We can probably assume you know what Pokemon Go is by now. With over 25 million people walking around the country with their heads buried in their phones, yelling “woo!” every time they catch a mythical creature… there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been witness to the phenomenon. There will be roughly twice the number of Pokemon Go players today than people on Facebook. To say that the augmented reality-based game is a spectacular success is putting it mildly.
Really, it’s a screaming 200-decibel wake-up call for marketers and brand managers everywhere.
Think about it. We’re talking about a brand that’s over 20 years old. In their day, the original Pokemon cartoons spawned a rabid following of little kids who collected playing cards and Picachu dolls. It limped along on tv and in video game form for years and years.
Suddenly, someone has the brilliant idea to bring a decades-old cartoon franchise together with an existing location-based mobile game called Ingress (a sort of capture the flag for the digital world) and bam! We’re talking millions and millions of users around the world all interacting and participating in a brand that until recently existed mostly for young children and nerdy millennials.
Within days, this bit of digital genius has not only breathed new life into the brand, it’s creating an entirely new Pokemon universe that continues to move and grow as we speak. For anyone who doubts the tremendous power of the digital-social medium, imagine what 25 million new customers every day could do for your bottom line.
And all of it for the price of producing a moderately expensive 30-second tv commercial. For those marketers who are paying attention, Pokemon Go has offered some valuable lessons:
Branding is more important than ever. The platform that Pokemon Go is built on has been around for quite some time. The mobile game Ingress received scant attention when it was unveiled. Only after the Pokemon brand was added did it become a successful formula. Millions of people continue to connect with the game because it’s a story they know and are eager to re-experience. Even in the digital realm, cool games can only get you so far – an authentic brand story is still the heart and soul of any successful effort.
You don’t need a huge ad campaign. Pokemon Go didn’t use a single television ad to promote its introduction. The overnight success was built on the strength of its concept. The simple fun and nostalgia players experienced turned into millions of tweets and posts and endless word-of-mouth on social media. The simple fact is, you don’t need gobs of money to be an effective marketer. There are endless ways to connect with your customers nowadays.
Literally any brand can reinvent itself. Over the years Pokemon has constantly reimagined itself – from cartoons to toys to card games and video games. But connecting with the mobile platform finally gave fans an opportunity to live the Pokemon experience like never before. They could actually participate in the story of the brand.
The most obvious lesson of course, is that if you’re not already dedicating serious time and resources to the digital-social world, you’re very late to the party and it’s time to jump in head first. This new marketing universe offers unparalleled opportunity for igniting a groundswell of interest and excitement in your brand.
So start the conversation. Begin exploring your brand story. 25 million new customers are waiting.