5 ways games increase brand awareness

Herman Tulleken

Written by Herman Tulleken

 On 4/4/19 3:10 PM

A cartoon person playing a video game on their phone showing how games increase brand awareness

Games can do more for raising your brand awareness than traditional media ever could.  Advertising games, also known as advergames, are the cutting edge way to engage current and potential customers.  In this post, we explain how games tailored to your brand can outperform plainer forms of marketing to help customers understand what your brand is about. 

Advergames innovate and optimize your marketing strategy like you never imagined — providing an eye-catching CTA, captivating your consumers’ attention through play, and increasing brand engagement like never before!  When you create a game for your brand, you’re providing a unique experience your customers can’t find anywhere else.

This post is part of our 100 days of games for growth series! 

Without further ado, here are the 5 ways games increase brand awareness!

1. Make brand elements prominent and immersive

The creative possibilities with games are incredible — you can create a brand new world with unique music, colors, and game features to gear the entire game around your brand.  A custom-made advergame incorporates your brand and products directly into the design, with product placement, logo, brand colors, and even brand values (such as speed).  There are, of course, different levels of advergames available, with varying effectiveness. With a custom game specific to your brand, you create a unique experience to offer your customers.  

Just take a look at Redbull’s mountain biking advergame, Bike Unchained 2, which connects the speed and energy associated with energy drinks with intense racing sports.  Monster Energy drinks had a similar idea in their motorbiking game, Monster Energy Supercross.  These games subconsciously connect speed with their product.  

On Redbull’s official game website, they promoted the “adrenaline rush of riding” without any mention of the drink- it wasn’t necessary to reference the beverage since the product’s elements are woven right into the premise of the game itself.  The site “reads” like a cool experience they’re offering for customers, not overt or awkward product placement.    

Players riding motor bikes in Monster Energy video game showing how games increase brand awareness

Both games are very realistic, fun (don’t forget the importance of this in games!), and they include racing against real competitors.  They also incorporate their brand’s logo into the players’ gear and on the racetracks - as happens at real races. These product placements are cleverly added in a socially-normalized way, increasing their subconscious influence. 

A game will allow you to communicate your brand’s personality uniquely and effectively.  If the general population thinks your brand is just like the rest, show them they’re wrong!  In the same way that you use tone and style in your writing, the tone and style of your game will increase your brand awareness and differentiate you from your competition.

Besides, your advergame will feature — what else? — your product and services!  You don’t have to compete against any other brands for your customers’ attention in your world. 

2. Display your products and services

Games are the perfect media for highlighting your products and services in an interesting way.  Rather than pushing your products at customers, advergames allow players to interact with your products in an unexpected and interactive way — through play.

In some games, the products can be discovered or used as clues.  In Skittles’ game, Darkened Skye, the candy can be used to perform magic!  Featuring your product in this manner creates a positive association for the customer-player.

An advergame displays your products and services, without doing so in an overwhelming or unappealing way. 


For racing shows of Ford cars

Advertising your products in an enjoyable way is more important now than ever — ad blocking in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2014.  A game effectively promotes specific products or displays the great variety of products and services you have to offer. It's a playful and sophisticated solution to typical advertising practices.

3. Integrate brand values and promises into your game

Be the hero in your own game! Games provide a unique opportunity to represent your brand values and involve your customer in your mission.  You can make your brand’s mission the player's mission inside the game. Connecting the mission not only conveys it to your customer, it also includes them in working towards it.  

Aligning the consumer with your mission attaches them to the final result. You go from fighting alone to having your customer-base right there, fighting alongside you.  Take Chipotle’s popular game, Scarecrow - you save produce and animals from mass-food production, joining Chipotle in the battle against industrial food corporations. 

Just making a game shows that your brand cares about your consumers and wants to give them an enjoyable experience. But along with that, you can make people aware of your other brand values through features of your game.

Games give you the chance to express your brand values, such as sustainability or efficiency, through the game mechanics themselves.  Dairy Queen, for instance, created an advergame, DQTycoon, where players can practice running DQ stores.  Clearly demonstrating how brand values can be included in an advergame, it was one of the first time management games to have a strong brand behind it.  Speed and efficiency is necessary in the game, subconsciously affirming the brand’s commitment to these values. 

Advergames don’t have to be replicas of your business in order to communicate your brand promise.  Burger King’s Sneak King incorporated its promise to “feed your hunger” by having you feed hungry people Burger King burgers in the game (all while sneaking around, for added suspense).  Porsche confirmed its commitment to fast cars through their racing game, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed.  How do you convey that you’re the classical option and that all the newcomers are invaders in your territory?  Pepsi did so in their shooter game, Pepsi Invaders.

Chipotle game Scarecrow promotes sustainability

An advergame provides a unique opportunity to communicate your brand values intuitively by building them straight into the game mechanics themselves.  Whether you protect teeth or inspire athletes with quality sneakers, a game can be created to represent your brand values.

 

Brand

Brand Value

Game Mechanic

Game

Burger King

Feeds your hunger

Feed hungry characters 

Sneak King

Porsche

Speed

Race 

Need for Speed

Red Bull

Energy

Reflex sports 

Bike Unchained

Budweiser

Quick service 

Speed Management

Tapper

Pepsi

Classical option

Shooting invaders

Pepsi Invaders

Colgate

Protect teeth

Stop sweets from reaching teeth

Tooth Protectors

Domino’s Pizza

Speedy delivery

Fight all obstacles to deliver quickly 

Avoid the Noid

Chipotle

Ethically produced

Saving animals from big industry

The Scarecrow

 

4. Games capture players' attention longer and more effectively 

A game is an intriguing CTA (call to action) for your customers.  By using a game as a channel of communication, you capture the attention of the player and maintain it for longer.  After all, the attention span of the average human is now only 8 seconds. Yet customers interact with your brand more in a game than they would in any other type of media. In the US, the average mobile game player spends 23 minutes a day playing mobile games. If you can get them to spend a portion of that time in your game, then you’ll hit a marketing home run. 

When people are bombarded with a bunch of different brands, like on many marketing channels, it’s easy for yours to get lost in the crowd. But when a player is in your game, your brand is the only one they’ll see.  Take advantage of the opportunity to propel your brand ahead of the competition. 

Repeated exposure is important - brands that present themselves consistently are 3 to 4 more times more likely to achieve brand visibility. The more your customer interacts with your brand, the better. 

When customers are playing your game, they’re experiencing first-hand the world you created for them.  Instead of just watching someone else do something, like in videos, they’re actually the ones making the choices and experiencing the emotions.  While we’re playing, we get taken to another world, and our mission soon becomes more real to us than anything going on in the real world. Use this tactic to connect with your customers!

We asked our marketing specialist to play the three games we recommend every executive play so that she could experience how effective games are at creating an emotional response.  From fear in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, to wonder in the underwater game, Abzu, the experiment was telling. 

Games give you the perfect opportunity to delight your customers, all while suspending them in a unique land centered around your brand.  If you delight them with an entertaining experience, you cultivate a positive emotional experience with your brand. And since emotion is a crucial factor in learning, your brand will become much more memorable to the consumer. 

 

Keep in mind, it takes, on average, 5 to 7 brand impressions for a consumer to remember your brand. You typically need to use several marketing tactics to achieve that number, yet a player will get those 5 to 7 impressions just by playing a few sessions of your game.  All sessions after that further strengthen your cause.

5. Turn your customers into promoters

Turning customers into promoters is the most useful feature games can offer when it comes to increasing your brand awareness. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing tool because consumers are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.

Word of mouth is also the hardest to achieve because no matter how much influencing you do, all the power lies in the hands of the consumers. But with a game, your chances of increasing positive word of mouth increase tremendously, because of two reasons: likability and share-ability.

Likability. Games increase likability, and likability is an important factor when it comes to customer loyalty.

When your customers like you and are loyal to you, they’re going to promote you to their friends and family because they want the best experience for them as well.

Chex quests was an advergame so loved by players it had two sequels

Share-ability. The second reason is that many mobile games have features that allow players to share their scores through messages or social media. When a player reaches a score on your game that they’re proud of and post it on their Twitter, your brand is exposed to their network.  These posts are a free CTA for your game (and brand).

Sharing game screenshots on social media is compelling because of the unique content.  If three of your friends share the same video, it’s repetitive, but three different players will have three different scores and even personalized images from their gaming that they can share.  If those friends post three different images from an eye-catching game, it’s more alluring than repeated posts of the same content. 

Advergames are the secret tool just waiting to turn your marketing upside down (in the best sense).  From incorporating your brand values directly into your game mechanics, to using play and emotion to engage customers, games are a marketing powerhouse.  Differentiate yourself from your competition and maximize your brand awareness by turning your brand into a game.