Pokemon Go: Branding, Marketing and a Hint” of Innovation”

Well… where the heck do we start with this? We could kick things off by talking about Nintendo’s insane surge in stock price. Or the hordes of people clamoring over the capture of fake creatures all across the country. Maybe even the boon this could mean to local businesses everywhere… and charities.

 

We are, of course, talking about the Pokemon Go craze. Love it or hate it, as a marketer, you simply cannot ignore what some are calling a fad and others are calling a cultural phenomenon. 
 

WTF is Pokemon Go?

 
Simply put, Pokemon Go is a gaming app that you can download on either Android or iOS to search for monsters from the Pokemon world. The unique thing about this game, though, is that you search for these creatures in the real world. As you walk around your city, these creatures will pop up from time to time — in a parking lot, on the grass, in the air around you, etc. — and when they do, you must capture them by throwing a Pokemon ball at them at just the right time. You get these balls by visiting marked spots on your GPS-enabled map. Oh… and did we mention the gyms? Wow… we totally almost forgot about the gyms! These are places, typically attached to larger structures, where the Pokemon creatures you’ve captured (and trained) can battle stronger creatures. If all of this sounds a little nutty, it is… but the technology behind it is amazing… and it’s the perfect example of branding and marketing being everything.
 

Marketing is Everything

 
What we’re going to say may sound counter-intuitive, but the brilliance of the Pokemon Go marketing campaign is that there was none. Yeah, yeah… we’re sure you’re scratching your head on that one, right? But ask yourself this… before the app became the only thing that millions of people wanted to talk about on Facebook, had you ever heard of it? Unless you’re a Pokemon and gaming fan, you probably had no idea that it was in development. So how did the release become so big, so quickly? It’s because Niantic (the company that actually created the game) and Nintendo relied solely on the brand (which we’ll get to) and word-of-mouth marketing. They created a product that people wanted to talk about… and holy crap, have people talked about it! This is a great lesson for all businesses out there — if you have a product or service that people like, and present it in such a way that fulfills a need or desire, they will talk about it on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else. Maybe not to the level of Pokemon Go, obviously, but enough to give your business a boost. And we’re not suggesting that you leave marketing out of the picture — just the opposite, in fact. Marketing your product or service through social media, blogging, and various other elements is how you’ll get to a point where your product or service itself will market itself, and your fans will market for you.
 

Branding is Everything Else

 
We’ve talked to you about the importance of branding so many times that we should have our own talk show about it by now. It’s true, though — branding is a way for people to instantly identify your business, product, service, etc., and that’s why it’s so important. How does this fit with Pokemon Go? Well, you’d think this was quite obvious, right? After all, Pokemon is a well-known, established brand that has games, cartoons, and much else under its belt. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the fact that the technology used for Pokemon Go has existed for years, and that the Pokemon brand has brought it to the forefront. Confused yet? Okay… we’ll explain further. What we’re referring to is a game called Ingress. This game was created by the same company (Niantic) years ago, and uses GPS and the real world to get gamers to come together and “battle” alien invaders. It relies on teams of players to get together for a common goal, and works on the same basic concept as Pokemon Go. However, in this game, players were/are able to designate certain places as hotspots for battle and whatnot. So, when Niantic was developing Pokemon Go, what they did was take many of these hotspots that players themselves had marked for Ingress, and transformed them into Pokestops and gyms. And wouldn’t you know it… thanks to the Pokemon brand, this new game has already reached heights that Ingress could never dream of. This just goes to show how important branding is for a business’ success, at every level of marketing.

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