Building a Grumpy Cat Empire: Design & Fan Engagement

The internet’s most famous cat, Tardar Sauce (popularly known as Grumpy Cat) was known for her permanent frown and small stature. Her cuteness became a global empire, including books, licensed merchandise, and a Christmas special starring Aubrey Plaza.








Grumpy Cat, or the internet meme featuring a disgruntled-looking cat named Tardar Sauce, successfully drives 6x marketing sales on appearances, merchandise, and books by on-demand custom illustration in first 3 months

Bryan from Grumpy Cat

Adding Illustration to Brand

Continued relevance for the Grumpy Cat brand requires expansion beyond the life of one cat. How can Tardar Sauce’s likeness and personality be carried over into different illustration styles?.

Leveraging Social Success

Grumpy Cat is one of the most successful memes in history, but converting viral meme enthusiasts into loyal customers poses a uniquely modern challenge.

Expanding Brand Potential

Rowing the Grumpy Cat brand and mascot into new media spaces has proven a challenge.


Grumpy Cat utilized Penji’s versatile design services to incorporate different illustration styles into their brand.

Penji designers leveraged the iconic cat as a brand mascot, creating a strong brand identity built around her grumpy face through social posts and digital ad engagement.

Highly targeted marketing content helps Grumpy Cat reach audiences most likely to engage with the brand, including pet owners and longtime meme lovers.

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Grumpy Cat increased sales by 600% in 3 months thanks to a broader catalog of marketing materials including illustrations and social media content.

Brand presence on Instagram and Facebook increased threefold with an average 10x engagement boost on social posts.

60% of survey respondents said they would “likely” or “very likely” purchase a Grumpy Cat-branded product in the next year.


Grumpy Cat increased sales


engagement boost on social post


positive survey response

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