Written by Dan George

A number of Aspectites had awful commutes this morning, and it had nothing to do with the traffic. Rather more embarrassingly, there’s a sizeable contingent here that keeps wandering into the road in pursuit of Pokémon.

And it’s not just us. It seems the whole world’s gone Pokémad, if you’ll excuse the similarly embarrassing portmanteau. The app is so popular that it’s already overtaken Tinder for Android installations in the US and is now closing in on Twitter’s number of active daily users. All of which has led to a huge surge in Nintendo’s share price, with the firm’s value having risen by a staggering $9bn in a matter of days.

So, what can we learn from this (other than to stop, look, listen and think before we cross the road)?

The first lesson for brands is to loosen the reins a little. Nintendo didn’t make Pokémon Go. Those honours went to Niantic, a Google spin-off and creator of cult mobile game Ingress. But by recognising its own shortcomings and entrusting its IP to an augmented reality specialist, Nintendo was able to let fans live out their childhood fantasies in real life.

And these fantasies are key. The Pokémon brand is one of the world’s most lucrative video game franchises, second only to another Nintendo giant, Mario. By harnessing our nostalgia, Nintendo knew it’d have a hit on its hands – and be able to reap the rewards from in-app purchases and even a Bluetooth-enabled wearable Pokéball.

Consumer firms like Coke and Lego have long invoked nostalgia to sell their brands. But while it’s unlikely that Oracle will start a mainstream craze for simulating its world-first commercial SQL relational database management system from back in the day, that doesn’t mean B2B brands can’t join in.

Older brands with an interesting heritage can have a lot of fun creating content that lets people remember the good old days – even if the subject matter’s a little more complex and technical. GE has always been good at bringing techie content to life and uses clever web design to recall its greatest achievements on a ‘Transformation Timeline’.

And this can go even further. One of my favourite examples comes from BT, which displays more than half a million photos and documents online, dating back to the 19th Century. Even better, this information is physically housed at its public archives in Holborn Telephone Exchange, and people are free to visit and rummage through it.

This may be pretty niche stuff, but as the huge numbers of people ambling into traffic show, there’s plenty of value for brands to realise by helping us geek out in pursuit of the old magic.

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