Recently, AYTM released an Angry Birds Addiction infographic that shows just how popular Rovio's Angry Birds game has become (follow the preceding link to check it out). As a new Forbes interview with Rovio Entertainment's General Manager of North America, Andrew Stalbow, reveals, that popularity is the result of strategic brand building.
First here's some perspective. There have been over 500 million downloads of the various Angry Birds games since it debuted in 2009. During that time, the brand has extended into merchandising and a movie is in the works. Rovio has partnered with Google, Wonderful Pistachios, and 20th Century Fox (the studio behind the hit movie, Rio) to develop products and ads that extend the brand's reach even further.
There appears to be no stopping the Angry Birds brand. However, it's important to point out that this is a brand that followed (intentionally or not) many of the fundamental theories and practices of brand building, including the 3 core steps of branding building -- consistency, persistence, and restraint.
The Angry Birds brand is very consistent in its messaging, experiences, image, and promise. This is a brand that was built at the hands of consumers who loved it, talked about it, and made it their own with the help of the social web. As explained in the video filmed at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show below, Angry Birds has, "a fanatical fan base and Rovio tries to listen to fans. The amount of user generated content around Angry Birds is phenomenal."
Rovio understands that it's consumers who build brands, not companies, and the company continually tries to allow consumers to make the brand their own and experience it in their own ways while still protecting the brand as a piece of intellectual property. The goal is to protect the brand without stopping the conversation and user experiences that evolve around the brand. This is a branding model that hasn't been implemented as well since Harry Potter.
Rovio continually looks for new ways to keep the Angry Birds brand top of mind and to deliver branded experiences that allow existing customers to enjoy continued game play while also making the brand enticing to new customers. Merchandising is a perfect way to do exactly that. It doesn't matter if you own a smartphone or play games. People can learn about Angry Birds from a strangers' T-shirts, children's plush toys, and more as they're out and about each day.
While the Angry Birds brand has extended to new games, merchandise, and more, Rovio does exercise restraint. As mentioned in the video above, "Rovio doesn't want to dilute the experience." You can bet this is a brand that (again, like the Harry Potter brand) has probably heard pitches from thousands of merchandisers and companies with different opportunities to extend the brand. However, Rovio picks and chooses those extensions that are best for the brand and user experience. Doing so ensure that the brand is consistent, consumers' expectations for the brand are continually met, and there is no confusion in consumers' perceptions of the brand.
To date, Rovio has made excellent decisions related to the strategic growth of the Angry Birds brand. Demand still far exceeds supply, and the end isn't close to being in sight yet. The question is whether or not Rovio can maintain the excitement around the brand for years to come. We'll have to wait and see what happens to Angry Birds in the future.
What do you predict? Will the next big thing come along soon to replace Angry Birds or will Angry Birds continue to dominate well into the future? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.