THE word ‘mascot’ comes from the French word ‘mascotte’, which means lucky charm.
The word became a part of the English Language in the 19th century with the word over time becoming a label for just about anything that can bring good luck. Today, it is used mostly in reference to any fictional character representing a company, product or service.
Why the need for a mascot?
“Creating a mascot is never easy. If you choose the wrong image or symbol, your organization will not benefit at all.”
“It takes a lot of reflection on who you are and translating this into the image you want to represent to the market,” said UOW Malaysia KDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Associate Professor Dr Brian Imrie.
“If you get it right, your mascot will stick in the minds of consumers, with the appearance of your mascot triggering a strong emotional connection with your brand. Mascots introduce simplicity to the interaction between the consumer and the brand, making the company more approachable” said Assoc Prof Imrie.
So who or what is UOW Malaysia KDU’s new mascot?
To assist in building an Australian identity amongst members of the UOW Malaysia KDU campus community, UOW Malaysia KDU has sought the assistance of an adorable creature from Australia. “UOW Malaysia KDU is part of the global network of campuses of the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia. So, it’s a natural consequence that we have introduced an ‘Australian’ element,” Assoc Prof Imrie said.
Meet Willis the Wallaby.
Wallabies are the little, endearing cousins of the kangaroo, which are so similar to their bigger brethren that some people think wallabies are no more than little kangaroos. But the wallaby is a much more adaptive creature that still shares the main marsupial characteristics of a kangaroo.
There are brush wallabies, rock wallabies, scrub wallabies and quite a few more variants. All of them adapted themselves to the specific geographies of the region that they live in on the Australian continent. “They are a diverse species that are famed in Australia for their adaptability, which makes the wallaby similar in many respects to the global UOW student population,” said Assoc Prof Imrie.
Being ranked in the TOP 1% of universities worldwide makes UOW a popular choice for students from a myriad of cultures, which fortifies UOW’s embrace of diversity and inclusiveness. “That’s what Willis the Wallaby is all about. From the casual, dark blue bandana around his neck down to his playful countenance, Willis is all about celebrating the diversity of life, adapting to and embracing difference as a strength,” said Assoc Prof Imrie.
Who’s the creator behind Willis the Wallaby?
The creator of Willis adds another layer to UOW Malaysia KDU’s embrace of diversity.
Selina Ooi, the campus’ graphic artist, is hearing impaired but rises above her personal challenges, with her strokes of the pen making her an indispensable member of the campus community.
“I’m thrilled that Willis, the first mascot of UOW Malaysia KDU has been created! I believe this is an excellent move. Besides being a mascot, Willis will also be able to make some sign language awareness to the public as Willis will be using some sign language in the animated social media postings and stickers that I will be making! This can be fun for the public to be exposed to sign language! For example, Willis will say “thank you” in sign language,” said Selina Ooi.
She not only is a talented graphic designer, but is a strong advocate for the hearing impaired community regularly composing blogs to share the challenges, and celebrate the achievements, of those in the community. “We are proud having Selina in the team and even happier that her artistic abilities gave birth to Willis,” said Assoc Prof Imrie.
Willis the wallaby is portrayed as cheeky, but nerdy, with a love for books, new friends and fun events.
He is not alone. Willis’ friends at other UOW global campuses include Baxter the Duck in UOW Australia and Woolly the Kangaroo in UOW Dubai. “You’ll soon be seeing a lot more of Willis and his antics, as he embarks on his many adventures across Malaysia,” said Assoc Prof Imrie.
Are you excited to see Willis come to life? We know we are!
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