Brains on Fire report that hidden treasures really do add to the customer experience.
So many brands keep their communities (or their illusion of one) at arms length – especially the “crazy fans.” But what would happen if it was the opposite? What would happen if you left those secret Easter Eggs out there especially for those highly passionate fans to find?
This works very well in a B2C space, and what makes it most effective is the hidden “treasure’s” ability to help in creating a persona for the brand. Linda Scott (Fresh Lipstick 2005, p. 220) calls this personification “fetishization”. In addition to explaining how an inanimate object is “imbued with animate properties”, Scott conveys that a fetish “is not arbitrarily magical or religious, but helps to accomplish a variety of cultural tasks”. Compare this to when Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton (1981, The Meaning of Things) explained that “things contribute to the cultivation of the self when they help create order in consciousness at the levels of the person, community, and patterns of natural order”.
The objects that we use frame our experiences and shape our selves; objects are signs of status, of belonging, of social integration, and are essential part of socialization and the relationship between people and things is fundamental. This is why this personifying of a product or service (specifically, the brand since the actually offering cannot easily be made animate) is essential to success. In many objects, it creates an easier space for adaptation into a cultural exchange.
Apple and Google add these hidden touches well, such as with Apple’s famous “Do Not Eat iPod Shuffle” in its terms and conditions (thanks to firewheeldesign.com for the image)
and Google’s map routing from, say, Kentucky to Germany (thanks to ghacks.net).
Both removed them after it became public knowledge and you would hope that they would continue to add to little Easter Eggs to enhance the brand experience. Think about your brand; what touches can you add to better tell the brand story and enhance the customer’s interaction with your offering?
Google may have stopped you from swimming across the Atlantic, but I guess they are fine with you kayaking across the Pacific. My co-worker found this today when he accidentally put in the wrong information when trying to get directions.
Update 2 (2008 June 12)
Seth Godin seems to agree with me.