Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last week, chances are you’ve heard about the world encompassing phenomenon called Pokemon Go. What you may not know is what Pokemon Go can teach the average business owner about branding. I’ll get to that in a moment. The Pokemon Go app is an “augmented reality” game that let’s players “catch” Pokemon characters on their smartphones while also helping them explore their neighborhoods. If you’re the one person that hasn’t heard about it, here’s a brief rundown.
Pokemon Go has spawned a seemingly endless string of news stories and social media conversations invoking topics ranging from trespassing (i.e. sneaking on to your neighbor’s property to catch a Pikachu) to the maturity level of the grown adults that play the game. I happen to be one of those grown adults. Now, earlier today, while thinking of my engagement with the game, it hit me: The instant popularity of Pokemon Go is a result of the personal story that it represents for those who play it.
To illustrate, I’ll share a bit of my story. At the time of publication, I’m 27 years old. However, back in 1998-1999, when the Pokemon franchise initially burst on the scene, I was 11 years old, and Pokemon GAVE ME LIFE. It was the thing to do. I lived it and breathed it and so did all of my friends. We played Pokemon on our Gameboys, we watched it on our local tv channel, and we played the trading card game in our schoolyards during recess. Basically, between 1999 and the early 2000s, Pokemon became a central part of the millennial generation’s childhood.
The story that many of my generation (and those to come after us) associates with the Pokemon brand represents an intangible connection that has immeasurable emotional value. As business owners, whether you are aware of it or not, the experience of the people you serve is what matters the most and that experience is being developed (negatively or positively) every single day. You have the power to create experiences for people that become a permanent part of their story. In fact, one of my marketing role models, Bernadette Jiwa says, “Marketing is not a department—it’s the story of how you create difference for your customers.”
Viral and trending topics like Pokemon teach us that the difference we make is controlled by the customer as much as it’s controlled by us. In other words, the experiences that we create for our customers are not static and they ultimately become a relationship. The relationship that stems from a customer’s experience is then communicated socially and continues long after any interaction with us (case in point: it’s been well over a decade since I was last engaged with the Pokemon franchise).
The conversation that a woman has with her best friend after eating at a restaurant is just as important as the words the restaurant puts on its menu. The confidence that a man feels when walking into an interview the day after his barber gave him a fresh haircut is part of that barber’s brand.
When you think of the brands/products/services that matter most to you, I bet you remember how you felt, how it helped you connect with the people you love, or the problems it helped you solve. We must strive in everything we do to earn our place in the story of our customers. When you become an invaluable part of their story, they will tell yours for the rest of their life.
Gotta catch em all!
P.S. What are you doing to create the stories that will be told about your brand? What are your overall digital marketing challenges? Let me know in the comments below!