Weeks ago, when we talked internally about writing an analysis of what we can learn about personal branding from Pokemon Go, we weren’t sure if the trend would last for weeks or only days. Long behold: Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game based on Niantic’s engine has grown even more. While you might think that only businesses can learn from Pokemon Go’s massive success, there’s also a lot that you as a trainer of your personal brand can learn as well!
1. A (Personal Branded) Trend Lifts All Other ‘Ships’
Has a brand you like or even love had a Pokemon Go campaign? I’m sure they have, at least buying lures in order to attract both Pokemon and you as a customer to their store.
When a trend grows like Pokemon Go, others see an opportunity to attach themselves to a topic that everybody is talking, writing and tweeting about. And while some sports events might limit how brands can attach themselves to their hashtags, others – like the very commercial Pokemon Go – let brands – both personal and corporate – use their platform to ‘talk’ to their customers.
If you think about it, Pokemon Go as a platform that is trending isn’t that different from Facebook Ads, the social network’s advertising offering. It’s still a way of offering ways to attach yourself on the platform in a specific way, just using lures instead of ads. Although Niantic has hinted at launching Pokemon Ads later this year!
Life Design = Pokemon?
From a personal branding standpoint, we’ve seen this with ‘Life design’ as blogged about and written about in numerous ‘4 Week…’ books by the ‘life designer’ Tim Ferriss. While Ferriss focused on specific topics for his books, his blog posts dealt with a whole slew of topics about improving your life that he just re-branded as ‘Life design’. While the topics weren’t that different than the usual self-improvement trends, Ferris managed to pivot them with data based on his personal experiences; building a personal brand that others would be very eager to be a part of.
What happened was that brands jumped on the opportunity to be part of a brand (in this case Ferris’ personal one) that was becoming a trend in itself.
What does this mean for your personal brand?
Personal brands are very sensitive because being based on a single person makes them – well – more personal. You might not want brands or companies or even people associating themselves without your explicit approval. While approving collaborations might work on small scale projects, if you want your personal brand to grow and also include others fast – you need to open yourselves up.
Brands that want to be part of the Pokemon Go world don’t need to register as advertisers, they don’t need permission. They just need to buy a lure, promote the game – and create even more buzz for Niantic’s project – just like you should ‘open source’ your personal brand in order to see it evolve like a Charmeleon evolves into a Charizard!
2. Even A Great Personal Brand Needs a Team, Doesn’t Matter If You’re Instinct
I’m not talking about the emotion.
If you didn’t know, there are three Pokemon ‘teams’ in the game, akin to factions such as in other games like World of Warcraft, but instead of Orcs and Humans you have teams Valor, Mystic and Instinct, the later being the most unpopular one.
Within the Pokemon Go fandom, it’s well known that Valor and Mystic (red and blue) make up most of the game’s fanbase. There are even video theories showcasing why so many players don’t choose the yellow colors of team Instinct, such as the one by popular YouTuber MatPat:
One key mistake that we make when creating our personal brands is to limit ourselves just to us, myself and I. It’s not just egotistical but it’s also bad for the brand. People like to be parts of teams just as they like competing with fellow Pokemon Go teams. It drives them to action and creates a (somewhat artificial) competitive environment.
But if you think of some of world’s largest personal brands, all of them had an entourage. I’m not talking about the show, although even that mess of a TV series showcases how important a team of people is for a star’s personal brand.
Strong internet personal brands, such as TWIT’s Leo Laporte, have their teams promoted alongside their very, very strong personal brands. With Leo Laporte’s personal brand being stronger than his company’s, it’s logical that one of their descriptions is “With Leo Laporte and friends”.
What does this mean for your personal brand?
For some, it might look like a personal brand and a team don’t really go hand in and hand. The moniker “and friends” might even sound a bit harsh as it doesn’t really include everyone as equals. However, from a personal brand building standpoint, it makes sense to create a team that will accompany your personal brand.
In the case of Pokemon Go, as players create their personal brands as trainers, being part of something bigger (a team such as Instinct) inside the Pokemon Go world creates a side that they can be a part of. A lonely Pokemon Go trainer sounds as sad a Jigglypuff without his microphone.
3. You Might Want To Be Charmander or ||Bulbasaur||| but Pikachu Is The Star
At the start of any Pokemon game, you get three Pokemon to choose from just like Ash did in the TV show. Unfortunately, as you remember, Ash was late so he had to settle for a third option: Pikachu!
Players of Pokemon Go, unlike Ash, don’t always want Charmander of Squirtel. In fact, an easter egg in the game, lets you choose Pikachu if you walk away from your initial starting point in the game. Ignore the three choices three times and what appears for the fourth time is a little yellow mouse.
What does this mean for your personal brand
I know this will sound a bit weird (get used to it – Pokemon are part of a weird world), but what you need to take away from the 4th, nontypical, different and secret option in Pokemon Go is that you also sometimes need to take the path that is less traveled (alongside your friend Pikachu). Creating a unique personal brand isn’t an exact science and any tip (even on the .Me blog) needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
So even after reading all these tips, you still might want to choose the 4th option – your Pikachu!
Do you think trainers in the Pokemon Go universe will become big personal brands by themselves. What do you think we will learn besides these tips about personal branding? What would you recommend to others trainers who want to – catch all the opportunities of their personal brands?