Marketing Lessons From The Nintendo Logo & Brand

What’s the first brand that comes to your mind when we talk about video games? We get it if you answered Nintendo! After all, this is one of the brands that has become synonymous with video games. And it’s a brand that has managed to impress gamers across generations. But did you know the Nintendo brand is more than a century old? And that it started out as a company selling playing cards? We’ll discuss many more interesting details about the Nintendo brand and the Nintendo logo in this blog. 

Brands like Nintendo had to try hard, fail several times, and spend millions of dollars in perfecting their marketing strategies and branding approach in order to get where they are today. So, what better source of inspiration than these? If you are a marketer looking for a different perspective or an entrepreneur wondering how to establish your brand and carve a niche for yourself, you are in the right place. Let’s discuss the strategies and campaigns that Nintendo got right. 

Shall we begin with a brief backstory of the Nintendo brand? 

Nintendo – the brand that redefined gaming 

Today we know Nintendo as the name behind iconic characters and games like Super Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong. But what was the company like when it started out more than a century ago? 

In 1889, Nintendo started making Hanafuda playing cards in Japan. This was a time when gambling except for the card game of Hanafuda was banned in Japan. There have been several speculations about the meaning behind the name “Nintendo” but a common conception is that it means “leave luck to heaven”. Something that sounds relevant to the game of cards that the brand originally was created for! 

It was only in the 1960s that Nintendo started making games. The home video game range that Nintendo introduced in 1977 marked the brand’s foray into the world of video games. A few years from there the brand went global and the rest is history. By 2021, the brand was valued at 16 billion U.S. dollars

The brand’s spectacular growth and its consistent success with pioneering new technology in gaming remain an inspiration for entrepreneurs. 

Before we discuss the Nintendo brand’s successful marketing strategies let’s talk about the Nintendo logo. After all, a logo is a cornerstone in branding and so understanding the evolution of the Nintendo logo is a good way to understand the brand’s growth. 

Nintendo logo – evolution in design and purpose 

The first ever Nintendo logo was the brand name in Japanese. The business originally catered to Japanese playing cards and it was meant to align with the locals at a deeper level. So, the logo in the native language was a relevant choice. 

The Nintendo logo then underwent a number of iterations with most of them featuring the brand name. From a combination mark logo to a lettermark and wordmark, the brand has explored a variety of logo styles and the final wordmark logo we see today has been in existence since 2016. This looks very much like the red wordmark version from 1975. 

If you look at the evolution of the Nintendo logo, you’ll notice that it has been red most of the time. Red is a color perceived to be an energetic color, one that symbolizes excitement making it perfect for a gaming company that’s known to bring thrill and excitement through its games. 

Kimp Tip: Your logo color tells a lot about your brand and greatly influences the first impression your logo makes on your customers. Hence, choose your logo color wisely. 

Choosing the best logo color does not have to be that difficult after all. Check out our blog here for some quick tips on this. 

5 Marketing lessons from the Nintendo brand 

1. Finesse in copywriting 

From the print to the digital era, a lot has changed in advertising formats. But there is one thing that has not changed – the need for a combination of catchy graphics and a memorable copy. And Nintendo has managed to nail this combination in its ads most of the time. 

Take the below print ad for example. This ad for the Nintendo Entertainment System is from 1984 and it uses simple visuals and a clear and catchy copy to convey the message. 

In the social media era, you get to tease the launch of a new product and create stunning videos for the big reveal. You can create short videos to highlight each feature of the product and detailed demonstrations of how the product works. But back when a print ad was the most popular option, displaying the actual product was a straightforward and effective approach and that’s exactly what you see in the ad above. 

Kimp Tip: When it comes to ad formats, what works for one brand might not always work for another. But at the same time, you cannot miss out on the trending ad formats and stick with a traditional approach. A mix of images and videos in the form of social media posts, emails, digital ads, infographics, Reels, TikTok videos, long-form YouTube videos, and a whole lot more can be used for advertising. Before you narrow down your focus, it’s a good idea to experiment with the various formats to see which brings the best conversions for your brand. 

2. A lesson on perspectives in advertising – “Wii would like to play” 

Ads when designed well, have the power to bring a paradigm shift. And the “Wii would like to play” campaign from Nintendo is a perfect example. Watch the ad to see what we mean. 

The ad looks simple and straightforward. But watch the ad again now focusing on the “ideal customer” featured using the product – playing on the Nintendo in this case. Notice the diversity the brand captures. 

Details like these make a huge difference. Because until this ad, why even today most video game ads we see feature a stereotypical “male gamer” glued to his game. But Nintendo, through the above ad promoted its gaming console as a product for the family. It achieved this by breaking all stereotypes based on age, race, and gender. It went on to secure the Grand Effie award at the 40th Annual Effie Awards. 

Kimp Tip: When you have such outlook-altering ideas like these, videos are your best bet. They make the storytelling and fact-conveying processes so much more effective. 

Even if you cannot spend too much on video production, you can use animated ads for a similar effect. Wondering how to get them designed the easy way? Get Kimp

3. Leveraging FOMO – Nintendo 3DS – First Reactions 

FOMO is an invaluable tool in marketing and Nintendo has consistently used it in its campaigns. This is also the idea behind brands sharing customer testimonials. True, sharing customer reviews helps new customers know your brand better and understand what you are offering. But what it also does is tell new customers and potential leads what they are missing until they try your brand. 

Nintendo stepped into the world of YouTube with its Nintendo 3DS First Reactions. The video shows the launch of 3D gaming and the reactions of customers experiencing the action for the first time. 

Sharing customer reviews and showcasing the opinions of real customers work really well in product marketing. Particularly when you are launching a new product, these reactions from actual customers help create the much-needed anticipation for your product. 

4. When it comes to social media, prioritize engagement 

Nintendo regularly shares a lot of interactive content on its Stories on Instagram. From quizzes related to the games and popular game characters to fun challenges and discussions, there is a lot happening in the Stories. 

The fact that Story posts disappear in 24 hours does not invalidate the importance of these. To keep your existing followers engaged and to inspire them to keep coming back for more, you need to regularly post Story posts in addition to the regular posts on your Feed. Get creative and make use of Instagram Story stickers to create a 2-way communication channel. This way you also get to track engagement in a more effective manner. 

Cinemagraphs, simple animated GIFs – there are many formats that can make your Instagram Story the most happening place on your page. For all these content formats and more, choose a Kimp Video subscription! 

5. Focus on the experience 

Experiential marketing goes a long way in strengthening customer relationships. A well-crafted and carefully executed experiential marketing campaign gives your brand a competitive edge and convinces your customers to stay back with your brand even if your competitors come up with some alluring deals. Because people might forget what you sell but they don’t easily forget how you made them feel. 

Nintendo knows this well and executes the idea through its creative experiential campaigns for various products. One such was for the launch of Nintendo Switch where the brand hosted a roadshow in various malls across the UK to introduce the product to its audience. 

Conducted in 36 locations across the UK, this campaign created more than 210,000 brand experiences and had a 400% ROI

And to date, Nintendo Switch happens to be the most successfully running offering from the brand. 

One thing to infer from the success of the Nintendo Switch is that when you have a successful product launch and when you manage to create a strong first impression, you significantly improve your chance for success. 

The not-so-good ads from the Nintendo brand 

We spoke about all things Nintendo did right in establishing the Nintendo brand. But brand image is a mix of the brand’s achievements and setbacks. So. now let’s talk about the campaigns and ads from Nintendo that did not do so well. 

When is too much too much? 

Sometimes, the idea is good but the way you convey it can often distract people away from the core message. And that’s what happened with the above ad from Nintendo. The ad compares eating too much to adding too many features to Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island. 

While the concept sounds analogous they are meant to convey very different emotions. Eating too much is not the right habit to encourage and therefore it does not make the right reference to use when you want customers to feel good about adding plenty of extra features to a game. 

The takeaway here is that when you try to incorporate metaphorical references in your ad, try to keep the emotions in sync. Even the slightest misinterpretation of the ad might lead to negative virality which can be bad for a brand. Stay away from ideas that make people cringe. 

Diskun – the almost-forgotten Nintendo mascot from the past 

When it comes to branding you cannot be overly enthusiastic and create unrealistic campaigns. At the same time, you cannot lack foresight and create branding changes based on current trends. And this holds good particularly when you are looking for ideas for your mascot. 

If you create a mascot that represents your brand, what you offer, or something based on your ideal customer persona, it might not get outdated unless your brand pivots. But if you create a mascot based on a technology that you currently focus on or based on something that’s trending at the moment, you are taking a huge risk. 

Even big brands like Nintendo make such mistakes and learn from them. There was a time, long before the beloved Mario came into existence when a character named Diskun appeared on the Famicom Disk System from Nintendo. When the product itself did not live up to the mark, the mascot faded away too. 

Diskun’s decline is a clear example of the fact that going with the trends is not the best approach when it comes to core branding designs like mascots or even logos. 

Transform your marketing approach inspired by the Nintendo brand and Nintendo logo 

A few failed products, several game-changing products, and years of dedicated effort later, Nintendo still remains one of the most formidable players in the video game segment. This can be attributed to the brand’s diversity in its branding approach and its customer-focused marketing campaigns. 

Your ads need to be as creative and user-focused as your products and that’s when you make an impact. Having good ideas is a start but executing them in a way that they resonate with your brand is the real deal. And for that, an unlimited design service that helps you create unlimited designs every month makes a big difference. 

Want to explore Kimp’s unlimited design plans? Sign up for a free 7-day trial.