Recently, the Morgan family dinner conversation has found itself turning to the topic of engines. It is not that we are petrolheads, you understand , but that my boys are avid gamers. And two much-awaited games have this year been building their word of mouth and appetite appeal through seeding conversation about the gaming engines that will make them special. Modern Warfare 3, one of my sons told me breathlessly before launch, is going to be much better than its predecessor because it has the Frostbite 2 Engine. Exactly how this will make the game more immersive or realistic is unclear to him or me, but because he believes in it, the game was clearly already a significantly higher altitude than the well played best seller that is MW2.
FIFA 12 is a returning classic that has also trumpeted an engine: the Impact Engine. This doesn’t improve the realism of the whole game, just a part of it: the part when one player collides with another. And if you like your striker somersaulting realistically over your opponent’s outstretched leg, it is very good indeed.
As we look to renovate our brand or service, I wonder whether we can learn a lot from how the great Gaming brands are using the concept of engines – both the reality and perception they create. An engine is essentially a piece of proprietary code that creates superiority in some key area of the gaming experience. But by framing it not as code but as an engine, the gaming community has managed to take something that might sound geeky and peripheral (a coding breakthrough), and give it instead the aura of something vibrant and vital, that seems to – and genuinely does – propel the user experience to a new level.
So here’s my question: what’s our ‘engine’ for 2012? As a brand or an agency that wishes to refresh our customer perception as an ‘essential’ every year, what aspect of service or usability are we developing a new ‘engine’ to drive? And how do you we brand that new dimension so that our customers are as intrigued by its connotations as my sons were about the ‘engines’ powering the latest iteration of their favourite games? And if we are doing neither of those, how do we expect to remain a best-seller?
This article first appeared in Campaign Asia Pacific