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  • Posted by: Amanda Munilla on Monday, June 3 2013 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

    Repair the Rockaways

    Games are nothing new. Competition and the need for rewards and recognition are innate in humans. Mobile technologies and apps such as Foursquare, Yelp, Wii and Kinect have all tapped this need and made gaming relevant across demographics.

    In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in the US's northeast, Repair the Rockaways, a Zynga-produced game raised money for recovery efforts. More recently, the beta version of Google Glass demonstrated the potential to gamify nearly any task in real-time. Games can even be used to help tackle abstract, future-facing challenges like resource scarcity and talent recruitment, as Siemens pioneered with Plantville.

    Games spur action and participation. Gamification can include using badges to show merit (you’ll remember those from your scouting days), creating leaderboards, and using those impulses of competition to encourage desired behavior.

    Games can also test understanding, gain constituent feedback and help guide decision-making. In the business world, gaming has become a common way for organizations to reach customers. According to Mashable, more than 70% of Fortune 200 companies use games for customer retention and marketing.


    Companies are increasingly using games to motivate their workforces. Brands like Walmart have used gamification to improve customer service through employee engagement, a strategy presented at The Conference Board's Extending Your Brand to Employees conference in May.

    Interbrand was also there, presenting alongside BNY Mellon on the importance of influencing employee behavior to drive desired business outcomes. Customer relationships are the core product in the B2B space, and gaming is a great tool for driving employee engagement.

    For gaming to be a powerful tool, however, it has to be underpinned by a solid strategy — one that is set to move the needle and prompt workforce action. To derive value from gaming, company leaders should ask themselves: What are my objectives and desired behaviors? What kind of games will work in my organization's culture? What incentives will prove effective at driving change?

    BNY Mellon conducted a robust exercise to identify the key behaviors in employees that would unlock the business strategy, as well as structured a system of cues and rewards to incentivize employees. This case serves as a great example of how a company can get employees, dispersed across the world, to collaborate on developing the right behaviors to drive the business forward. In the coming years, B2B brands will have to increasingly employ these strategies in creating sustainable momentum across their organizations.

    Amanda Munilla is a Senior Consultant in Interbrand New York's Strategy Department.

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  • Posted by: Robert Pyrah on Tuesday, July 19 2011 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

    It’s a truism that the best brands move with the times, evolving to suit changing tastes and technologies all over the world. It’s why some great names past falter while others thrive: consider Nokia, once dominant, versus Apple and others. The latter have not just made their technology relevant, but evolved a whole brand offering that shapes our desires proactively.
    So when it comes to creative play, think of how far things have come since the analogue days of Meccano and board games. Wii, Xbox, and others have taken things up a gaming notch, incorporating the latest computing and interactive technologies. Those of us who remember the screechy cassettes it took to load a fairly basic and bug-ridden arcade game might even have preferred the tangibility of analogue. With some exceptions (including computer-shy families), it would be hard to imagine most kids reaching for more low-fi alternatives today.
    This is why LEGO’s continued grip on the imagination of kids is as impressive as it is salutary. Of course, brick-and-model-based toys still carve a different niche in the market, as well as in a young person’s mind and imagination, from screen-based play. But to keep their offering relevant, LEGO has stretched its brand well beyond its core strength: a superb, unique, and addictive product.
    In short, LEGO has moved with the times in quite dizzying fashion, especially for any adult who remembers the much more basic parallel world it embraced 20 years ago. You could go far with an imagination or instruction manuals alike, but these were still generic springboards for the imagination: a cityscape, space exploration… not into pre-defined, branded imaginary worlds.

    That’s quite a far cry from where you can end up today – inside Hogwarts, flying on a broomstick or casting spells with a LEGO Harry Potter; battling a LEGO Darth Vader on an ingenious brick-based Death Star… or else in a mixture of on- and offline environments, playing LEGO races on screen and on your carpet, or inhabiting the much bolder LEGO Universe gamescape.
    This is a brand that’s gone full-blown experiential, embracing the gamut of its tangible assets and turning them all shades of digital and analogue. It arguably began with its real-world theme parks, including those in Windsor (U.K.) and Denmark, via cobranded tie-ups (e.g. with Pixar, to create a Toy Story series), to hands-on store experiences with 3D product displays, and digital renderings you can generate by holding boxes up to special sensors.
    It helps, of course, that LEGO’s specialty has always been in generating parallel, imaginative worlds. Doing so in a branded way that speaks to a generation weaned as much on virtual as real gaming, this is an old-school brand that seems to be in pretty good brand health.

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  • Posted by: Lizzy Stallard on Friday, June 11 2010 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

    The face of gaming has changed drastically in recent years, and we all know that the Wii had a lot to do with that. It was the Wii that managed to entice teenage boys to step outside of their dingy bedrooms, and gave grandparents the confidence to hold a nunchuk. Well, not how to hold it exactly—but to at least have picked one up for the first time. Saying ‘nunchuk’, seems to be another yet-to-be tackled issue.

    But as of October, with the much-anticipated launch of the Microsoft Kinect (previously known as Project Natal until Interbrand named it for Microsoft), all that is changing again. Long gone are the days of firing up the Atari and spending 20 long minutes impatiently staring at the screen, only to find the all too frequent ‘error’ message flashing in front of disappointed eyes. The Kinect device doesn’t even have a power button. You just tell it what you want it to do—‘On!’ and there you go. Alternatively, there’s a virtual zip on the TV screen, which you slide sideways to start the experience.

    Creating your own customized avatar, aka the ‘Mii’ might be a thing of the past with Kinect too. Three unique lenses within the black box device together work to identify your gender and can also recognize faces, giving players an instant on-screen persona. The device can also anticipate your mood from the tonality of your voice. And, with the ability to detect motions of up to 1/10th of an inch, we’re promised the accuracy will be top notch.

    Soon this will all be a reality. What will be interesting is to see whether the experience lives up to the expectations.  We’re no longer interacting with the game—we are becoming the game. We’re on the screen, we’re in the TV.  It really is Mike Teavee stuff. And, we’re told that Kinect won’t just appeal to the casual gamers, but also promises to satisfy the more traditional, hard-core fighting and shooting types.  I can just see it now—‘female Mi5 detective diving under sofa to escape impending assassination’. Yes, please. Sign me up.

    In all seriousness, surely such innovative technology has scope to impact a variety of sectors beyond the world of gaming. Imagine the implications for possible partnerships with online retailers, for example. I’d love to see what those new Chloé sunglasses would look like on. Hold on a second: ‘On.’

    Yup, pretty good, I’ll take a pair. Oh, I guess I still have to do the order in the old fashioned way, but at least I won’t have to worry about the return policy.

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  • Posted by: Nora Kittie Geiss on Friday, April 9 2010 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

    Social media definitely has a place in the all-important communications media mix. But which social channel is the true game-changer? Here are a few reasons why brands should be seriously planning to invest in (and opt-in) local social gaming channels like Foursquare.

    Imagine when “Specials Nearby” leads you not to a pint, but to an exclusive discount on that pair of shoes you’ve been craving – at the shoe store right around the corner.

    What makes a channel like Foursquare so compelling?

    1. It’s social. Obvious. But that means that this channel comes with a built-in network of people who like each other, and who, by the nature of their joining a location-based social network, are guaranteed to like sharing things with each other while they’re out and about.

    2. It’s competitive. Unless you’ve been living in a cave (one that doesn’t have internet access, *shudder*), you’ve probably noticed that gaming incentives are the latest, “omg we should totally have some of those!” in the app development community. Remember back in the day when “zombies VS vampires” raged all over Facebook? Remember earlier today when your Facebook news feed was cluttered with “Inez is searching for something in Farmville” and “Joseph needs your help! Be a Hit Man in Mafia Wars,” both spawn of the fast-growing (see number 15) Zynga Game Network?

    Gaming gets people engaged. It feels like something fun to do. It encourages us to one-up each other – thereby nudging interaction that might otherwise not happen. It pings us with small, joyful bursts of accomplishment that make us smile, laugh, and get excited. Read: It’s an emotional, interactive experience.

    Foursquare has a unique edge in this competition space by building interaction and reward to be automatic – you get something for nothing, pretty much. If I’m going to a bar anyway, why not get some points? If I might get surprised with a deal or fun badge, why not? If I get ousted as Mayor of my favorite bar–I’m going to fight for it. Why not? Together, these are more powerful than they might seem. The low-barrier-to-entry “why not” factor + the emotionally charged, something-for-nothing incentive make it super easy to play—and super habit-forming.

    3. It’s opt-in. If I accept a friend on Foursquare, it means I want to know where that friend is—and I want them to know where I am. These are the people I’d love to bump into when I’m out and about and feeling social. Imagine the potential when I can “friend” my favorite brands—not unlike the fan pages that have had incredible traction on Facebook. I’ve just opted in to hearing about what that brand is up to, when, why, and WHERE. Which brings me to the fourth and most important factor…

    4. It’s location-based. This is the truly differentiating feature of a Foursquare over a Facebook. Sure, Facebook is with me everywhere—but it’s agnostic of exactly where I am. Foursquare knows, for example, where exactly I am and that I’m actively engaged when I check-in, so they can alert me to an exclusive Foursquare-user discount at my favorite shoe store when I’m just around the corner, nearby and likely to buy.

    Social + competitive + opt-in + location-based = a seriously winning competition

    And Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley is under no illusions that they’ve cornered the market on this recipe. Not only are close-in competitors like Gowalla, Loopt and Yelp already formidable opponents, but Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz – or any social network, for that matter – can turn on geo-savvy check-in features at any time. As Crowley himself puts it, “check-ins will become a commodity.” These brands will no doubt have multiple showdowns over usability, audience capturing campaigns (such as Foursquare Day), partnerships that extend utility (for example, mobile purchasing apps like the Google Shopper), and which one has the infrastructure sophisticated enough to deliver on these demands.

    All the more competitors in this space means that there’s all the more reason why brands should be salivating all over these services. People sharing, engaging, and discovering, all while they’re out and about near points of purchase? If that doesn’t get you excited… get back in that cave.

    This post is the ninth in a series called That’s Debatable: Social Media Edition – posts designed around oft-debated topics in our community, meant to spark conversation and gather different perspectives. Learn more about That’s Debatable, and take our social media survey, and join the debate on brandchannel.

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