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Let the games begin!

July 21st 2005 | Mike Sorrenti



Let the games begin!

Online branding is changing at a rapid speed. In this article, Michael Sorrenti will review some incarnations of online branding, look at ways that marketing is changing and examine the relationship between brands and their customers. And also consider what this means for the average Flash developer and designer.

The change is imminent
Online branding is changing. Companies are slowly moving from the traditional web site that used to consist only of essential information and ways to buy a product or service. The model seems to be progressing to include more interactive sites that include contests, coupons, animations and interactive games that allow users to interact with the brand. Companies are learning that interaction is now necessary in order to compete. I have taken the liberty to include two sites that have most recently caught my attention, both of which should be experienced by anyone who is involved in the rapidly evolving field of web and traditional marketing and design:

This site immediately engages the user. It describes the product. You feel it or you don't. The company has a clear identity. You can interact with the brand by playing an online game, and you can invite others to compete. You can join the community by signing onto the mailing list. You are immersed into the culture of the product. You know what the company represents when you leave and can decide whether or not you like what they represent.

Play this game. It is fun and is extremely addictive. It sells the idea of owning a beetle and for some reason I want to buy some HP inkjet cartridges as well (and my printer is fully loaded). This high quality game is entertaining and does not oversell the product. I spent ten minutes playing myself. The “user” interacts with the Volkswagen brand by driving the car and the backgrounds work in an indirect way selling the many HP products in their line subconsciously.

Marketing is no longer about the biggest budgets and has changed to reflect the guerrilla. I am a guerrilla. I do not mean the big hairy type, I mean a guerrilla marketer. My company specializes in Guerrilla marketing techniques such as those listed above. Guerrilla marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it serves to reflect your company's identity in creative ways. It also tends to work best for those with limited budgets. A guerrilla marketer such as myself needs to use different marketing strategies in order to compete with larger companies with more money. These strategies help to level the playing field for small and medium sized businesses. If you want people to notice your company, do something different, think, and be creative.
Example: Your mom wants to sell her apple pie. Nobody knows that these great apple pies exist. One suggestion would be to dress up like characters from little house on the prairie. Another would be to show up at Church on a Sunday with your wsweet smelling apple pie's (bribe the pastor).
If you lack all of these skills hire someone that has them.

Where is this relationship going?
Marketing is increasingly dependent on a brands relationship with its customer. Customers are looking for a relationship with a brand. I want to go to Flash and want to see great articles. I want to learn. I want to see something I have never seen. I want news. I am dedicated to our relationship. If I type in the URL one day and see “Mullet mania” or “zoo porn” our relationship will be in jeopardy. This is because I have come to expect certain things from our relationship.

What this means to you, the “above average” reader of Flash Magazine
This type of branding will lead to more creative and competitive work for the Flash developer and designer. Flash designers are usually creative people. For the most part Flash designers do not enjoy programming. Tough. We all will need to learn the basics to be competitive in this saturated market. Either that, or team up with a great programme who is lacking on the creative side. I say this because interactivity in your creations (be it a game, an interactive presentation, or a moving picture) is dependent on scripts that tabulate data, allow for high scores, allow you to play against others, etc.
Online branding is changing at a rapid speed and we must ride the change to help further develop and promote our industry. Interaction is fun, and it works!

Oh yeah, be sure to send me examples of Guerrilla marketing that you have seen (from online games to public displays)!


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