Evolving Branding: The Pokemon Go Phenomena


The past few days, Pokemon Go has taken over the country. An unprecedented number of people from all ages, walks of life, and backgrounds have joined in on the phenomena -- going on walks, joining in groups, meeting up with others -- all in a quest to find and capture wild pokemon and dominate rival teams through "friendly" gym competition. Naturally, as with anything that enters and takes over the pop culture zeitgeist, a few nay-sayers exist bemoaning the popularity and countless memes. However, it seems the vast have leant in on the experience. Even those never fully a fan of the original Nintendo games or anime television series have found themselves joining in on the adventure.

It makes total sense. The game brings people together. While walking down the street, holding your phone in front of you and looking around as you wait for the nearby Growlithe to appear, you see someone walking toward you, phone in hand, stopping for a moment and swiping up with their finger. You meet eyes, smile, and deliver a "Gotta catch 'em all," before you both continue onward. The occurrence happens countless times all over the country. Just yesterday, I stood on the sidewalk attempting my first gym battle. I wasn't doing so well but suddenly two people walk up to me.

"You battling this gym?" one asks. "What team are you?"

"Valor," I respond. "But I'm not that high of a level."

"No problem. We got you."

Working together with two total strangers, I took down my first gym. Mere moments later, while we celebrated our victory, another group walks over. They're a rival team. After a few moments of jokingly trash-talking one another, we all battle, compare our catches, and talk about the neighborhood. When I left, I felt elated, filled with this leftover excitement from the fun of being a part of a group.

Honestly, it all felt very familiar -- because I was somewhat used to this occurrence. It happens all the time with Loot Crate members.

To paraphrase the old adage, working at Loot Crate, I'm not only an employee but I'm also a member of the Looter Community. Every month I get my own crate delivered to my door, filled with a bunch of collectibles and apparel. Whenever I wear a Loot Crate t-shirt, I inevitably run into someone wearing the same one -- where we both point at each other and shout, "Loot Crate!" with a big grin plastered on our faces.

About a month ago, I went into Jersey Mike's to order a sub wearing one of our tees. The guy making my sandwich saw the shirt and said, "Nice! Loot Crate! I get them, too!" The cashier then looked over and said, "Me, too!" We talked about the most recent crate then went on to talk about the latest Marvel Studios films, how they compared to Warner Bros., and how much we enjoyed The Flash television series. Afterward, I walked home with my sandwich with the same feeling I had leaving that gym battle.

What makes Pokemon Go so fun and what makes Loot Crate stand out from other similar services is the community they both create. It's not just playing the game alone or getting a crate of stuff. It's sharing the experience, whether of unboxing or catching; hanging out together, whether at Looter meet-ups or gym battles; and just enjoying being a part of something filled with passionate fans.

In times when there's so much that can pull us all apart, things like Pokemon Go bring people together. These fans have evolved in the way they interact with brands, and smart brands evolve with them. Don't just create a product. Create a community -- and be a part of it. As a company, that's an important concept to understand if your goal is exponential growth. The customer experience can't just end when the game is over or when the crate is unboxed- it has to live on and keep the customer engaged. Successful customer experiences are rooted in building a community, cultivating it and letting it evolve with your customer.