Vocaloid, who hasn’t heard of it? Maybe many of you, but thats okay, as Vocaloid is a brilliant example of how a business can make one simple but clever design choice in order to rake in millions of dollars in revenue. Vocaloid itself is a voice synthesis software used for simulating a human voice in song making produced by Yamaha. It’s allowed millions of home-studio producers to add full vocal lines to their songs without having to hire a real singer, which is an amazing story in of itself. But today we’re going to talk about something much for vital to it’s success, it’s marketing angle.
Ever heard if Brand Mentions? They’re similar to backlinks in SEO, just without the link.
Now I can hear you saying, how’s that supposed to work?
Well, every time your brand gets mentioned on a website that’s known as a brand mention. It’s like word of mouth just across websites, blogs, social media and the like. In fact, google has even changed its algorithms to pick up on brand mentions in the form of implied links.
As you could imagine, this makes them quite powerful. It’s like bringing the viral word of mouth marketing from the post internet age back to the forefront, and that’s exactly what Yamaha took advantage of with Vocaloid.
At its core, Vocaloid is a story about two different marketing campaigns, one that didn’t work, and another that completely blew through the roof of success.
First we’ll start with what they did wrong, and that was, (and many other stories tend to follow this trend), that they were too safe. Two versions of the Vocaloid software were released in Europe at the same time, the debut copies “Lola” for female Vocals, and “Leon” for Male vocals. Both copies didn’t sell nearly as well, but what seperated them from the next wave of Vocaloids, dubbed Vocaloid 2 Pre-release, which ended up grossing $120 Million dollars over five years?
It’s all contained in one simple word: Personality.
Leon and Lola were sold as on the shelf boxed software products just like anything else related to music software in their day; they had sleek, neon pink and blue box art and carried that sci-fi feel of 80s future fiction. And whilst this box art is certainly very cool to look at, it wasn’t at all memorable. It may have stood out on the shelf, but a quick glance during sunday shopping is not enough to push sales through to the millions. Leon and Lola needed a face and they needed distinct personalities. They needed something that their small fanbase could mention in casual conversation, and that’s exactly what they were given.
Define your Brand with a memorable Personality
Yamaha, decided to try something different when the product finally released in Japan, something that would not only ensure national popularity of the software and turn it into a cultural phenomenon, but something that would also give it worldwide appeal.
Their solution was to inject their new series, Vocaloid 2, with a dose of personality. Whilst Leon and Lola only had names, the first product of the new series that lanched, named Hatsune Miku in Japan, came complete with a face, unique hairstyle and outfit. What this small change did for the company was remarkable, people now had a name and a face to refer to when discussing the software. Leon and Lola both had recognizable voices, but there was nothing to latch on to to seperate them from other auto-tuned vocals in music. Miku could now be featured on album art, in music videos, and producers writing a song using her extremely recognisable voice could now credit the song to her as the vocalist. Soon the companies brand mentions were skyrocketing as people asked “Who’s the singer?”
As we can see, after 4 years past it’s release, “Miku” became a much more searched term than the name of the software itself, and only continued to grow.
The biggest mistake for brand personality
So now that we’re all clear on the power of Personality in Brands, let’s take a step back and think about it a little more deeply.
When we think about it, we tend to imagine that the business owners take the role of their own brands personality. Apple has Steve Jobs, Virgin has Richard Branson, and the list goes on.
This way of thinking is a mistake.
Atlhough a lot of the time, being a business owner puts you in the prime position to inject your personality into a brand, however, the idea that your brand’s personality has to be you is a mistake. Vocaloid has shown us that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The directors at Yamaha are still faceless excecutives wearing suits in the background, but what they achieved with Miku is something inherintly very shareable. Something that drives brand mentions and can go viral on social media. What Miku did what Leon and Lola simply could not, and what Yamaha could not do without her, was to establish a following. Groups of fans continuously liking, sharing and consuming content that has to do with her means that every time she is mentioned as a character, implicitly their business carries on growing. The numbers speak for themselves.
Brand Mentions will increase your Rankings
Arranging backlinks to drive traffic back to your site is a very deliberate action. It takes constant searching, work and planning, and is definitely neserssary for any high ranking site to get traffic moving. But when it comes to SEO, or marketing in general, nothing beats classic word of mouth. If people are talking about your product then they’re getting invested in it, plain and simple. Now that Google has added brand mentions in the form of implied links to their search algorithms this is doublely important.
It could even be said that the difference between a solid business and a spectacular one is whether or not people are talking about it.
It might take some extra preliminary effort to get it all sorted, but putting the work in to get your brand spoken about and drive up those mentions can bring tremendous amounts of organic traffic to your business, all without the hassle of building backlinks or focusing on aggressive marketing campaigns or social media ads.
At the end of the day, brand mentions are just an indicator of how much people love what you’re giving them, it means you’ve created something that gets people talking.