Why a mobile game is a brilliant tool for city branding

Why a mobile game is a brilliant tool for city branding

Never before has the competition between cities been more intense as it is today. They strive to attract talent, investment, tourism and keep the locals happy too. It’s not only the cities, but regions and countries also see themselves as brands and, thus, adopt various marketing tools from the commercial world to create, communicate and deliver value for their customers and communities at large.

Cities often use slogans, logos, and symbols to create awareness and promote their brand. However, due to an increasing global competition, places are feeling the pressure to uplift their strategic brand management to break through the clutter. Urbanist Greg Clark claims a city logo, slogan, and iconic images are useful, but they aren’t solutions (WSJ, 2017). City branding activities should focus not only on attracting, but also engaging and retaining all stakeholders.

Thinking of an innovative and sustainable solution that can support the processes above? Look no further. A casual branded mobile game with an integrated voucher shop can be a solution. Let us explain the reasons why.

1. According to research conducted by Deloitte (2016), the majority of consumers worldwide are mobile-first, as 78% of them own a smartphone and check it at least 40 times per day. This adds up to a considerable amount of time in front of a mobile screen every day. One of the top 3 activities on a smartphone is casual gaming with over 2 billion consumers spending their time on mobile playing. Thus, there is no doubt that a branded mobile game attracts a wide global audience. Moreover, gamers are very likely to spread a word about games they love (FacebookIQ, 2016), thus making it easy to use (digital) word of mouth to make a great game go viral.

2. A mobile game enables a brand to easily communicate its image, or in other words, to portray its diverse districts, icons, and attractions. In-game graphics, soundtrack, and animations can recreate a unique look and feel of the city. On top of that, a branded game offers a deeper level of engagement than any print, TV, or radio ad medium does (Adweek). A game engages people for hours and, thus, can be used not only for information and entertainment purposes but also educational. For instance, while playing a game, tourists can get an idea of the city’s landscape and learn many fun and interesting facts about various attractions before stepping a foot in the city.

3. Perhaps most importantly, a mobile game used as a city’s branding activity can attract and involve all its stakeholders.

Government — Usually, there is a dedicated body in the government responsible for the marketing of a place for example, London & Partners, in London. City officials aim to optimize city branding activities and engage target groups to the fullest, hence, taking the lead of a project and becoming a co-creator of a mobile game is the way to go.

Business — Local businesses can drive traffic and increase brand awareness by becoming a game or sponsor (level, hub or area) partner. A great way to partner up with a city game is by having an ambassador or an iconic character to be the face of the game. For example, Mr Bean became the mascot of the London city game, Play London with Mr Bean. Moreover, retailers, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses can find new audiences through a voucher shop connected to the game as well as through virtual gift boxes dropped all over the city. Get to know more about voucher partner solution here.

Locals — A mobile game offers residents to see their city through a new perspective in a fun, playful and entertaining way. In addition, local people can be a great source for user-generated content. For example, residents can submit their ideas for new level names, new areas to be added to the game or local celebrities to be featured.

Visitors — As briefly discussed above, a branded city game lets people explore a place virtually and can inspire people to visit the city particularly if players earn voucher points in the game, which can be later exchanged for real products and experiences in the city. That is enabled by game partnerships with a variety of merchants who provide various types of vouchers to the game voucher shop.

Media — It is the most significant communication channel in terms of raising awareness among target groups, thus it acts as a partner, and not only as a stakeholder. Thus, a media agency can join in the project and get an extra channel to speak to city’s officials, business, locals, and visitors.

4. A city mobile game is a sustainable initiative that fosters a long-term commitment to the strategy, much more than ad hoc campaigns and other short-term marketing activities. A game is a platform of endless opportunities for development, since new areas, hubs, levels, info points, fun facts, missions can continuously be added and implemented. Moreover, a game can involve and support existing city branding activities by, for example, reusing a slogan, visual brand identity, or featuring events in the game, to maintain a coherent city brand image.

Mobile city game example — Play London with Mr Bean

In summary, a city brand, just as a brand in general, strives to identify its goods and services and differentiate from those of its competitors. A mobile game wrapped in a city brand identity can deliver a sustainable, innovative and engaging platform to shape the idea of a place, for the main groups of stakeholders. On top of that, the voucher shop solution on the Pointvoucher platform can drive traffic to places, as people will actually want to redeem their in-game earned points for real-life prizes and experiences.


In Pointvoucher’s Let’s play blog, we’ve dedicated our time and space to give our readers in-depth articles on using gamification as part of marketing strategy. On top of that, we’ll bring you insights on what is happening in casual gaming, the basics of building a brand universe in games, the psychology behind gaming in marketing, case stories on branded entertainment and much more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *