Hello Kitty fans around the world received some shocking news today. According to Sanrio, Hello Kitty’s parent company, Hello Kitty is in fact not a cat, but a little girl. For individuals who have grown up loving the adorable little character, this announcement came as a bit of a shock.
Upon the horizon of the first ever Hello Kitty Con and the Hello Kitty retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum of Art in Los Angeles, Kitty fans don’t know what to believe. An anthropologist who has studied the Hello Kitty phenomenon for years was preparing texts for an exhibit when she was firmly corrected by Sanrio as to the cat status of Hello Kitty. Sanrio representatives stated that Hello Kitty is not a cat, she is a cartoon character depicting a cat, she is a little girl who is a friend. She is never depicted on all fours, and in fact, has a cat as a pet.
This species classification of a fictional cartoon character has opened the door to wondering what other popular characters are supposed to be. Is Mickey really a mouse? Is Daffy really a duck? Regardless of what species she belongs to, Hello Kitty has done a phenomenal job in capturing the hearts of cute-loving individuals around the world. Let’s take a deeper look into the phenomenon of Hello Kitty mania.
First of all, it is not a well-known fact that Hello Kitty’s name is actually Kitty White. She is a perpetual third grader and lives in London with her parents and twin sister, Yano. Hello Kitty first emerged on the Japanese market in the 1970s, and quickly crossed the pond to the U.S. a few years later. Hello Kitty especially resonated with Asian Americans who grew up in Chinatowns and Japantowns around the U.S. She represents the perfect childhood, the white picket fence, if you will.
Many believe that Hello Kitty’s success is largely in part to her simplicity and blankness of design. Because she lacks a mouth and eyebrows, people can see what they want to see in her expression. Her blankness helps her appeal to a wide variety of personality types, the only requirement that they appreciate cuteness. Her simple design also allows for a lot of flexibility in merchandising and implementation of design. Hello Kitty is such a recognizable character that her bow can stand alone as a branding element. From Chainsaws to bathroom sets, Hello Kitty has found her way onto any and all possible products. Click here to see the 23 Craziest Pieces Of Hello Kitty Merchandise.
Regardless of your personal feelings towards Hello Kitty (or should we say Kitty White), there is no denying that the brand is doing something right. Considering the fact that the brand is seeing their 40th birthday and still going strong is a monumental feat. Best lessons to be learned from Hello Kitty: 1. Keeping your cartoon character simplified allows for greater merchandising opportunities and leaves the character’s expression open to interpretation. 2. Cuteness sells. 3. A multi-cultural mascot will have greater international appeal.