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Gamification - Are you a player in the brand engagement game?


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Leveraging gamification in brand building strategies …

Leveraging gamification in brand building strategies
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  • 1. Are you a player in thebrand engagement game?Leveraging gamification in brand buildingstrategiesWhite paper | September 2011
  • 2. Shikatani Lacroix is a leading branding and design firm located inToronto, Canada. The company is commissioned assignments fromall around the world, across CPG, retail and service industries,helping clients achieve success within their operating markets. Itdoes this by enabling its clients’ brands to better connect withconsumers through a variety of core services including corporateidentity, naming and communication, brand experience, packaging,retail, wayfinding and product design.About the AuthorJean-Pierre Lacroix, R.G.D., President and Founder ofShikatani LacroixJean-Pierre (JP) Lacroix provides leadership and direction to hisfirm, which was founded in 1990. He has spent the last 30 yearshelping organizations better connect their brands with consumersin ways that impact the overall performance of their business. Mr.Lacroix was the first to coin and trademark the statement “TheBlink Factor” in 1990, which today is a cornerstone principle to howbrands succeed in the marketplace. JP has authored several papers,has been quoted in numerous branding and design articles and, in2001, he co-authored the book “The Business of Graphic Design,”which has sold over 10,000 copies. JP can be reached and you can follow his blog and Articles and BooksBelonging Experiences...Designing Engaged BrandsBusiness of Graphic DesignWhite paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 1
  • 3. Increasing your brand engagement through gamificationI recently presented to a group of researchers and marketers on theshift in research methodologies and approaches due to the rise ofsocial media. A key factor that I covered in my presentation was howgamification is playing an important role in ensuring respondents aretruly engaged in sharing their ideas. Today, marketers are challengedto gain stronger consumer engagement in their marketing programs.Experienced marketers have realized that to effectively connect withconsumers to build brand affinity, it’s important to leverage theircustomers inherent behaviours and rituals. In my book BelongingExperiences, Designing Engaged Brands, I identified the need forconsumers to connect and form communities as the doorway to self-actualization. Gamification is a strategy for brands and organizationsto ensure the action of belonging is enjoyable and driven by a needto contribute and be recognized.Gamification is an emerging marketing approach that capitalizes onhow today’s generation needs a sense of excitement, control, and,more importantly, a need for fun to complete their daily chores. Ithas evolved from the historical product placement approach foundin video games and movies to a new level that is far more engagingand provides greater results for marketers. This white paper willpresent recent research and insights on this new marketingapproach, namely:1. Defining the meaning of gamification2. Trends driving the need for change3. Examples of applications4. Guidelines and application approaches for marketersWhite paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 2"By handingout rewardslike badges,you arecreating anenvironmentfilled withpositivereinforcement"Gabe Zichermann, co-author ofGame-Based Marketing
  • 4. What is gamification?According to Wikipedia, Gamification is defined as the use of gamedesign techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engageaudiences. Typically, gamification applies to non-game applications(also known as "funware"), particularly consumer-oriented web andmobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications.It also strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviours inconnection with the applications.Gamification works by making technology more engaging, and byencouraging desired behaviours, thus taking advantage of humanspsychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The techniquecan encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarilyconsider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or readingweb sites.Types of gamification approaches?Early examples of gamification are based on rewarding points topeople who share experiences on location-based platforms such asFacebook’s "Place" feature, Foursquare (social network), andGowalla. However, the approach is evolving with the growing numberof smart phone users, allowing brands such as Nike, Starbucks andAdidas to create games that build strong engagement within a loyalbranded community. The techniques can be structured in three mainengagement strategies:1. Recognition: one of the surest ways to build brand loyalty is torecognize your loyal customers for their contribution to thegrowth of your organization’s business. Recognition by theorganization or the players’ peers is an effective tool to stimulateengagement, and support given marketing initiatives:• Achievement "badges" or levels• Leader boardsWhite paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 3“Games areunnecessaryobstacleswe volunteerto tackle.”Jane McGonigal, author ofBroken: Why Games Make UsBetter and How They CanChange the World
  • 5. 1. Belonging: Meeting new people, forming a group of like-mindedpeople, and contributing to the purpose of this group areimportant factors that lead to brand engagement. Marketers arelearning that their “target groups” consistent not only ofdemographics and psychographics, but also “communities”whose common values are not derived from age or gender butfrom needs and beliefs. Gamification allows brands to createdeeper relationships within communities by creating a platformfor its members to interact with each other in playful venues.Examples of such initiatives are:• Challenges between users• Ability to create new games that solicit participation by thecommunity• Embedding small casual games within other activities.2. Status: Beyond the need for recognition from an organization isthe need for recognition by our peers based on ourdemonstrated gaming abilities or the level of experience we havegained. Examples of such status-driven initiatives are:• A progress bar or other visual meter to indicate how closepeople are to completing a task a company is trying toencourage, such as completing a social networking profile orearning a frequent shopper loyalty award.• Virtual currency• Systems for awarding, redeeming, trading, gifting, orexchanging pointsWhite paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 4“One way tomotivatethose workersis byincorporatinggamemechanicsinto theworkplace,especiallywhen it comesto rewardingworkerperformance.” Chief Scientist JPRangaswami
  • 6. 3. Escape: A new dimension of gamification that is emerging in theConsumer Packaged Goods (CPG) sector is the introduction ofvirtual gaming platforms that allow easy access to gamingtechnology. These new platforms allow consumers to overcomemundane tasks by converting the actual product into a virtualgaming platform. Examples of these initiatives are:• Packaging that converts to a virtual game through theinteraction of a computer• Packaging becomes the trigger to a virtual game that can beplayed on a smart phone• Proximity-based games that reward players by having themscavenger hunt for virtual objectsExamples of gamification initiativesFacebook ups its gameFacebook’s new look is not just a change in social media but moreimportantly, a new link to gamification. In addition to Facebook’sintroduction of Timeline and an updated version of Open Graph, thecompany has also introduced Facebook subscriptions and anupdated news feed. The upgraded news feed is confirmation thatFacebook sees gamification as a critical evolution of how consumersuse social media. The news feed offers an option to receive gameupdates through a ticker, in real time, located in the top right-handcorner of the screen. Now organizations such as Spotify and Netflixare allowing their members to watch or join someone’s social gameexperience right from the ticker, making it easier for players toparticipate in a greater number of popular social games. The newversion of Facebook’s Open Graph has also helped game makerstake advantage of this new platform.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 5Gartner Groupestimates that by2015, 70% of theForbes Global2000 will beusing gamifiedapps, and M2Researchforecasts thatU.S. companiesalone will spend$1.6 billion ongamificationproducts andservices by thatsame year.
  • 7. Foursquare rewards Starbucks fansLocation-based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and FacebookPlaces have redefined game mechanics in non-gaming products.Foursquare stands out with 10 million users on a platform that wasbuilt around solid game mechanics in addition to web and mobileapplications. The system allows registered users to connect withfriends and update their location. Points are awarded for "checking-in" at venues and users can choose to have their check-ins posted ontheir accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or both. Users can claimmayorships, unlock badges, receive special offers and rewards, suchas discounts to specific retailers, while tracking against friends via aleaderboard. Foursquare also provides free tools made specificallyfor businesses, such as statistics dashboards that reflect customerbehaviour. Starbucks launched a Foursquare strategy to reward loyalcustomers. Users can earn the barista badge after checking in to fiveseparate locations. They also offer a special for Foursquare mayors.Mayors got $1 off a Frappuccino beverage.Salesforce gets its gaming mojoSalesforce, an enterprise cloud computing company headquarteredin San Francisco that distributes business software on a subscriptionbasis, has taken gamification to another level. The organization hascreated a platform to raise the engagement level of its two-million-plus subscribers by leveraging the inherent need drivers of salespeople. Salesforce converted users’ activities within the system intovarious game mechanics that increase the user’s drive to not onlymake better use of their system, but also stimulate greater sales forthe user’s organization. The new gamified system offers directcompetition with other users within the same organization. The newsystem leverages the pre-existing competitive behaviours of gamingparticipants while linking these to drive engagement and usage ofthe CRM platform.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 6
  • 8. Putting real currency behind relevancyHallmark is the leading purveyor of greeting cards and calendar-driven activities. The organization has leveraged the gamification ofFacebook credits to entice users to interact with specific contentwithin Hallmark’s Social Calendar.Taking control of the gameAdidas, the world’s second largest sporting goods manufacturer, haslaunched a virtual game where a pair of their sneakers can be usedto control a digital world on customer screens. All participants haveto do is show their shoe to their webcam and the virtual world willopen. Adidas took it one step further and teamed up with Dutchgame developers, Xform, who created no less than three games.Taking a bite out of gamingMcDonald’s Europe operation has gamified an old medium to make itmore engaging. McDonald’s billboard campaign invited passersby toplay Pong on a large interactive billboard. Not only did the billboardgrab people’s attention, the game provided successful players withdigital coupons that were used in nearby stores. The couponssignificantly increased the likelihood of new business for theseMcDonald’s locations, while also ensuring the brand was relevantwith a younger generation of consumers.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 7
  • 9. Steps to brand gamificationWe have identified five stages of planning for the implementation ofan effective gamification program, based on the white paper“Winning with Gamification, Tips from the Expert’s Playbook,”published by Bunchball (, and a wide range ofrelated articles:Step One: Setting your goalsBefore you gain any value in launching a gamification initiative, it’simportant that you clearly define your business goals and strategies.Defining both financial, sales, behaviour and engagement metricswill allow the organization to determine the level of investment anddesired activities. A key part of the first step is to understand yourusers: who they are, what they do, why and how they do it. Sincegamification is linked to leveraging the inherent behaviours of yourcustomers, it is important to clearly understand what drives theirneeds and wants. Clearly defining your user’s need states will helpalign the types of incentives or rewards that will have the mostimpact on engagement.Step 2: Identify the action you want the users to doGamification is a platform to motivate and stimulate users toparticipate in an action that they would not have otherwisecompleted. To that end, it’s very important that you clearly definethe action you want your users to accomplish.It could be to register for an event or service, connect with theorganization, watch a video, share ideas or suggestions, watch aslideshow on the company or product, complete a profile that wouldallow you to segment future messaging, allow them to upload avideo on a brand relevant subject (i.e., cooking steps on how to usethe branded product), or to allow for comments on the organization,a campaign, or idea.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 8
  • 10. In essence, gamification should be leveraged to stimulate on-goingdialogue between the organization and consumers, while ensuringthat at each level of engagement, the user-evolving need states arebeing met.Step 3: What is the right incentive?Building on the insights established by understanding whatmotivates your customers, it is important to establish a rewardsystem that is flexible, and rewards deeper relationships with thebrand, while ensuring the program is cost effective. A great way todetermine the ideal approach is to explore the reward structure ofother brands that may share the same customers. Since consumerstypically compare offerings based on past experiences,understanding how other organizations establish their rewardsystems will minimize the risk that your offering is not relevant.Another factor to consider when establishing your reward program isthe type of levels you will be offering and the desired outcome youare wanting to achieve. Ultimately, the goal of any reward system isto support ongoing relationships that become deeper and moremeaningful. Creating tiers for your reward system will ensure thatyour gamification program has legs and can grow as your user baseand level of engagement evolves.Step 4: Make it visually exciting and easy to useWeb development and social media platforms have demonstratedthat less is more, simple is better, and visually exciting versus word-centric are the keys to user engagement. The same principles applyto gamification approaches. In developing your gamificationstrategy, it is important that the gaming mechanism, rewardstructure and overall user experience are simple yet exciting.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 9
  • 11. Ideally the visuals and naming convention for both the rewards andinteraction should leverage core equities of the brand while alsoensuring the images are stunning and inviting to view. Since thereference point for most gamification programs are the best in classelectronic games, it is from this perspective that the visuals andexperiences should be established.Step 5: Make it a virtual communitySince the fundamental premise of gamification is to build a loyalcommunity of consumers that are advocates for your brand, it’simportant that the users are allowed to build their online profile andrecognition from peers and friends. A key tenant of gamificationprograms is to make users’ accomplishments and achievementshighly visible, fueling a sense of competitiveness and pride.Allowing users to share success stories, accomplishments, or evenideas on how to make the overall game better will lead to highersocial awareness and grassroots participation, well beyond theoutbound marketing initiatives of the organization.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 10
  • 12. ConclusionGamification is truly the next wave of brand engagement thatcreates a platform that leverages the inherent behaviours ofconsumers and encourages them to participate in brand buildinginitiatives.As new approaches to gamification emerge through thecommoditization of technology and the accessibility of smart phonetechnologies, branding strategies will need to be modified andenhanced to remain relevant. Although these nuances will beimportant, the foundation of the approach – a holistic and integratedgamification strategy that is focused on engaging consumers andbuilding brand loyalty communities – will become easier andhopefully more fun for both organizations and consumers.It will be interesting to note how the approach will evolve and whichof the leading brands will embrace change.White paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 11
  • 13. For more information, contact:Jean-Pierre Lacroix, PresidentShikatani Lacroix387 Richmond Street EastToronto, OntarioM5A 1P6Telephone: 416-367-1999Email: jplacroix@sld.comWhite paper | September 2011 | Gamification | 12