Tag Archives: Kiosks

Build-A-Bear’s Complete Brand Experience

I think many of my blog posts are too long.  In an effort to try to balance giving you complete thoughts and short(er) blog posts, I’m going to break this one up into two.  This is the first in a two-part series on Build-A-Bear’s Complete Brand Experience.

Leave it to a toy maker to get it right. 

Last month, I sat in on a session at Kioskcom and heard Brandon Elliott from Build-A-Bear speak.  I’ve been in Build-A-Bear before with my daughter, but didn’t recognize the superb job they do in creating a complete brand experience.  Yes, their sales associates are super friendly and use “bear” in as much of their vocabulary as they can – that’s not what I’m talking about.  What I’m talking about is extending the in-store experience (the offline experience) well beyond the store.  What I didn’t understand was how effectively they’ve created a cohesive, multi-channel brand experience.  Merging the offline with the online.  Using multiple “screens” as compliments to each other, not duplicates.  Creating brand evangelists, in part, by being channel agnostic.  So, after hearing Brandon speak, I had to go back into Build-A-Bear and experience it all for myself.

I was hypersensitive of my surroundings, so of course, the first thing I saw when I walked in was:

Score #1.  This company has a purpose.  They’re not in the business of making stuffed animals.  They’re in the business of making best friends.  Big distinction and one that is the foundation that enables them to create such a deep experience.  Relationships with stuffed animals end in time, for one reason or another.  Relationships with best friends are timeless.

So, here I was, faced with the joy of picking out my new best friend.  And although he wasn’t a bear, I knew him when I saw him. 

Score #1.5.  Every time one of these particular friends are chosen, Build-A-Bear donates $1 to the World Wildlife Fund.  Once I picked him out, the next step in the process was to bring him to life.  And here, in the store, you do that by picking out a heart, of course.  Before the heart goes in, you make a wish and give it a kiss.  Nice touch.

Score #2.  Details, details, details.  It’s not about picking out a non-stuffed animal and then getting it stuffed.  It’s about bringing this new best friend to life in a real & meaningful way.  This is part of the brand experience and there’s not a friend that gets made who doesn’t have a heart with a kiss and a wish.

Once I brought him to life, I was able to make him a legitimate member of the Cearley family by creating a birth certificate on the in-store kiosks.  While these kiosks are purely designed for utility, they are designed for a specific audience – kids (to be specific, 10 year old girls.)  All of the prompts on screen and buttons on keyboard are color & shape coded.  It’s a very easy process to go through – right in line with the rest of the experience.

And so my new best friend, Tex, was officially born.  With a heart, a kiss, a wish and a kiosk.

Score #3.  Personalization.  As you can see, Tex is a baseball fan.  I could have made him anything I wanted through all of the clothes and accessories available to me in-store.  Although not a huge deal for me, kids love this part of the experience because they get to personalize their new best friend from head to toe.  Socks, shoes, sunglasses, purses and everything in between. 

This is the point, in-store, where my experience ended.  I was handed Tex’s real birth certificate, Tex himself, and directed to Build-A-Bearville online.  Just as the purpose statement that I saw when entering, I was left leaving with this new promise:

Isn’t this experience great?  Even if you don’t care for making new best friends, you have to hand it to Build-A-Bear for creating such an immersive brand experience – the details – from what you see, to what you hear, to what you do, every step of the way.  And this isn’t even the complete picture, but it’s here, my friends, where we’ll pick up next time…

Great Mobile Engagement from Kioskcom

Yesterday, I wrote about Pongr, a new mobile technology that I experienced over the past week and found to be valuable and easy – two traits that should aim to be the bedrock of any campaign, certainly any mobile campaign.  Today, I’ll show you another example, but from the standpoint of a brand doing this, through the use of another valuable & easy technology.

Kioskcom/The Digital Signage Show – the brand in this case – did a commendable job of extending the experience through mobile last week during their conference, particularly with the use MS Tags and SMS.  I was delighted when I registered and picked up the guide/agenda/planner and saw a MS Tag at the bottom of the guide:

With instructions, no less.  Again, it’s such a small thing that is often overlooked, but I think you can never be too detailed on instructions with new technology.  They provided step-by-step instructions so anyone (literally, anyone) could follow:

Since I’ve done work with MS Tags, I already had the app installed on my phone, so I immediately took a picture of it.  I was directed to the Kioskcom home page where I could navigate wherever I wanted.  This wasn’t necessarily what I found to be the most valuable.  It was when I opened the guide and saw MS Tags on every page:

This was where the value to me came in.  First, this guide was the only reference material that I used throughout the conference and I actually liked it.  It fit in my bag, was easy to manage, included everything I needed about the show, to the succint detail that I needed, and then with the use of these tags, I was able to get the one-off details that I needed, when I needed them.  For instance, if I wanted to see one of the speakers’ bios, I could easily access it through the tag.  If I wanted to see details on exhibitors, I could easily access them through the tag.  I didn’t have to thumb through a big, hard-to-manage show guide that most often comes with any of these shows.

And if that weren’t enough, they set up a special short code to “opt-in” to receive regular show updates via SMS.  So, instead of relying on any of the kiosks or digital signs (ironically enough) or audio announcements, I was again able to get the information I wanted when I wanted it, through the channel I wanted it on.

This, really, is a perfect example of a brand utilizing many channels to engage with their audience in the most appropriate way – here, the intention was to extend utility.  Mission accomplished.

I think the true power of “out of home” as an advertising and communications platform is that it can bridge the gap in the story – the story that you can get from your TV, then all of the different stories you can find on your computer, and now even more on your mobile phone.  Marketers utilize these channels on a daily basis and they’re engrained in the ecosystem.  I think traditional out of home is in this mix, too, but I think we have such a unique opportunity in front of us with all of the new technologies at our disposal that the true value is extending the story through interactivity outside of the home.  And “out of home” to me is not necessarily billboards or kiosks or “digital” signs.  It can really be anything that we interact with outside of our homes – tables, floors, cars, magazines – whatever.  Pretty soon, everything will probably be considered a “sign,” so I like to think of the space as extremely broad.  (Tangent – in fact, “digital signage” is still immature right now and I don’t know that we’ll see it become mature.  I think we have a great chance of leapfrogging its maturity and welcoming something entirely different to the mix.  This would be everything around us.  For another post, I know….)

Valuable and easy.  Two traits personified again through the use of mobile technology, thanks to Kioskcom/The Digital Signage Show – or should I say the new, appropriately named brand, Customer Engagement Technology World.

Shout if you have other examples of valuable and easy through mobile.  I’d love to hear them.

My Floor Observations at Kioskcom

Walking the convention floor at these things is just sensory overload.  Or in this case, kiosk overload.  Kiosks everywhere.  Every kind of kiosk you could want, you could find it here.  (It’s funny, I was talking to someone and they said they specifically came to look for a kiosk to replace their old one and they didn’t find one here.  I couldn’t believe it.)  There were also lots of touch screens.  Lots of really slick looking applications.  But when you boil it down, it’s basically the same thing.  Here’s what I observed – most everyone wants to be in the everything business.  They want to be hardware providers.  They want to be software providers.  They want to be content providers.  They want to be advertising providers.  They want to be the data house.  Enough already.  Please.  The best solutions I saw were ones that were focused  and were trying to solve 1 problem.  Three good companies made my short, I-commend-you-for-knowing-your-business-well-enough-to-focus-on-one-thing-list:

Nanonation – these guys are big time.  Software providers.  They developed the software that runs the Greenopolis (Best of Show, Self Service Excellence Awards) kiosk (more on this solution later).  They have software to serve the enterprise level and they just developed software to serve the “lite” level.

DigiKomp – These guys are in the hardware business.  But instead of showing up with kiosks or large digital screens like veryone else, they stole the show (in my mind) with these small (320×240) LCD screens that they call “the last nametag that you’ll ever have to get.”  They’re sweet.  Basically, really small, really sharp looking digital frames.  They play .jps, .avis, .mp3s.  Battery life of 12 hours.  I bought one.  But didn’t take it with me because I didn’t have the cash.  The ATM was far from the convention center and I never made it back.  I’m going to follow through with my purchase.  Just to have it.

RFIDeas – I got a little bit of an education on RFID from these guys.  My biggest takeaway – there are 3 “levels” of RFID (I really don’t know the right nomenclature): proximity, HF (High Frequency), and UHF (Ultra High Frequency).  The Mini key fob/billboards used UHF.  These guys deal primarily with proximity – think of the security cards that allow you to go in/out of your workplace/parking garages/etc..  My 2nd biggest takeaway – they don’t think of anything for marketing/engagement purposes.  When I told him why I was interested, he looked at me like I had 3 eyes.  All good.  He gave me knowledge, which is all I want.

There were others that I heard were good, but really of no interest to me. 

I think it would be cool to get creative, developers, software providers, hardware providers at one of these things and over the course of 1 or 2 days, get them to actually make something right in front of our eyes so we can see the true capabilities and something worthwhile come to life.  Then, we would really find out the strengths of all of these companies.  And to me, that’s the whole point.

Getting Back to my OOH Basics

I’ve been on vacation the last two days.  To say it’s a vacation is an overstatement, but nonetheless, it has given me an opportunity to step back from work a little bit, recharge and regain my focus.  So it is with this blog, too.  I’ve been going heavy for a short three months and I feel like I need to take a step back and level my focus.  Remember the basics.

This diagram is the foundation for the way that I look at OOH.  DOOH & IOOH are just additions onto this model.  But to me, this is the most basic representation of how I view this world. 

There are  3 buckets that all OOH initiatives fall into:  Billboards, Posters, and Kiosks

They are separated by 3 differentiating factors:  amount of Information, length of Engagement, and potential for human Interaction

I believe that you can bucket any OOH initiative into one of these 3 buckets by using this guide.  Let’s give it a try:

Advertisement on top of a taxi (or the side of a bus):  I would say that this is a billboard.  These usually have very little information, no potential for human interaction and the length of engagement is very low due to the environment (transit) that they are viewed in.

Advertisement behind home plate in a baseball stadium:  Again, I would say that this is a billboard.  Little information.  No potential for human interaction and while the length of engagement is longer in this setting, the other two factors handicap any “real” engagement.

Movie poster:  Easy enough – poster, but posters are interesting.  By design, they’re effective at including more information than billboards (and less than kiosks).  And because they have more information, people can actually walk up to them, touch them, and “engage”, even if it means absorbing information. 

Mall directory:  I would say that this is a kiosk.  Lots of information.  Designed for human interaction and as a result, enable longer interaction.

All of this becomes clearer when you start adding technology to the mix.  I believe that there are technologies that simply make them “digital” and then other technologies that make them “interactive.”  But we’ll get into those later.

This is important because as a marketer, I feel like this helps hone in what one should be doing in this arena.  I’ve got some marketing-specific additions to the model, too.  But we’ll take it one step at a time.  We’ll get to it.

What examples do you want to put to the test?