Preetham Parvatam

Has over a decade of experience as a Business & Marketing Growth Consultant with leading global brands like Adobe, IBM and Oracle. He is a Co-Founder of Winnerbrands and actively consults B2B startups


What exactly is gamification? We hear it everywhere these days, and rightly so, because it has turned into a 2-billion-dollar industry! Gamification is the term used to describe game design principles like levels, points, social sharing, rewards, boards and so on to drive organic growth, awareness and community engagement for your brand.

How do brands play with gamification?

Here are a few global examples that can help sow the seeds of how to weave gamification into your own brand’s strategy:

1. Dominos has used gamification in their mobile ordering apps. Users can shake their Android or iPhones if they are confused about what to order and the app will automatically pick their toppings.

2. Starbucks used gamification tactics to enhance customer experience and boost their sales through a feature called My Starbucks Reward. Players register for My Reward through an application and every time they purchase a Starbucks product, they accumulate stars (which actually look like cups that are graphically filled in). There are also 3 levels depending on user loyalty, where more frequent Starbucks visits gets the user benefits such as a free coffee, a birthday gift or even customized offers!

3. McDonalds successfully increased their sales in the past with using an offline form of gamification derived from the famous Monopoly board game. Customers buying certain products from McD would get a ticket representing a space on the Monopoly game board. The goal was to collect all the tickets to be eligible for a prize.

Indian brands too are not lagging behind in the field of gamifying for customer engagement. After all, Indian gamers are the new enthusiastic demographic of customers that even global brands are eyeing at the moment!

Here are a few homegrown examples:

1. Zomato, the food delivery app, created the Zomato Premier League game which is built around the actual matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Customers place their order (getting a discount if they order from a partner restaurant) and while waiting, they get to predict who will be the winner of the upcoming IPL match. If their prediction comes true, they get a 30% cashback to use on their next order! This strategy encourages more people to order from the app and also makes the experience fun and risk-free since there are no cash prizes involved.

2. Make My Trip, the travel app, runs a live game called Knock Knock every Sunday that opens at 2 pm and asks fun questions related to several places from anyone who logs in to the app. They do this especially during the summer season when schools are closed and families engage in traveling. Some features of the game are –

  • Users can answer 5 travel-related questions in each episode and win points.
  • Users can bid to win flight, hotel and holiday package deals.
  • Users can watch travel stories of Bollywood stars and collect coins.
  • With the earned coins, users can participate in jackpot game and win holiday package, a flight ticket, or a hotel stay for free.

This kind of gamification is a great way to get sponsors and advertisers involved (via travel stories) and since prizes are in form of their own services, MMT also get to promote their brand.

How does gamification work as a branding strategy?

  • It introduces active elements of competition and fun, taking your marketing from a passive experience and turning it into an inclusive activity that lets anyone participate.
  • It enables you to create opportunities for interaction that can help you build trust and emotional connections with your community.
  • It lets your brand get involved in major trends such as World Cups, release of a new Netflix series or social causes like climate change so that it stays up to date.

How can you make brand games the right way?

While gamification has its advantages, it’s not magic. Make sure your brand gets its messaging out quickly and effectively, cutting through the noise created by your competitors. Remember, making your customers “work” for the information can be unnecessary.

A good brand game should focus on engagement, which needs buzz. Getting that takes time so you can’t put a hard end date to your strategy. Games, even ones meant for marketing, should be iterative. It’s not just about giving a game time to find a fan base; it’s about giving customers the chance to play and make suggestions so you can improve the experience.

Good marketing and gaming always has one thing in common – storytelling. It is important to start with a strong story that can elicit an emotional response from customers. Even simple games like Angry Birds tell a story, where players fight against green pigs that have stolen their eggs. Similarly, brand games that place good effort into their storylines will taste success.

A good game inspires loyalty. There are many ways to increase chances of people sticking around, like simple instructions & scoring, free-to-play models, multiple levels and social sharing. Traditional marketing often focuses on getting people’s attention and forgets about retaining it. Gamification can enable you to drive continued awareness by using in-game tools like power-ups, scoring boards and badges.

As technology and customer behavior evolve, make sure your fundamental goal of gamification is to create fun, engaging, and impactful gameplay which can foster brand affinity. If that happens, everyone ‘wins’!

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Preetham Parvatam


Has over a decade of experience as a Business & Marketing Growth Consultant with leading global brands like Adobe, IBM and Oracle. He is a Co-Founder of Winnerbrands and actively consults B2B startups

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