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Sprinkle some magic on to your brand

5 things we can all learn from the marketing wizardry behind the Harry Potter franchise

No-one can deny that the Harry Potter franchise is a successful brand, whether you’re a fan or not. So what better than to take a trip to the Warner Bros Studio Tour to discover their secrets and see what can inspire our own marketing magic...

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen”

The exhibition starts with this quote from J.K Rowling inscribed on the wall as you queue to enter the tour. The subtext: make your content interesting. Sounds obvious, right? But only until you think about who it is that finds it interesting, and more importantly who you want to find your content interesting.

An understanding of your customer and their world – what motivates them? What worries them? How can you fit meaningfully into their world? – helps to create a targeted brand story that will resonate and inspire action.

Whatever you do, do it thoroughly

Over 17,000 wand boxes were handmade and designed to adorn the wall of Ollivander’s wand shop on Diagon Ally. They appear on-screen for a grand total of 230 seconds in the first film, only to be blown up in the fifth. But was the work and attention to detail worth it? Absolutely. 

You may not have thought you paid much attention to them – or any at all – whilst watching the film, but would the shop have looked the same without it? Would your perception of the film’s commitment to bringing the story to life (and its budget) be the same if the walls were bare?

The devil really is in the detail! 

Prepare to WOW!

People are designed to crave the unexpected. And surprise changes behaviour. Surprise introduces us to new stimuli, which then forces us to respond to change by making shifts in our current beliefs and behaviours. For a film all about magic, that’s a pretty easy thing to achieve. But how do you surprise in a highly-regulated and serious world of healthcare? A large-scale exhibition in the centre of a “standard” booth, or an advertising campaign or content that escapes the ordinary would be sure to attract the attention of customers over and above the rest.  

Get a big reaction from your target audience and they’ll not only remember what you said, they’ll want to learn more.

Use every opportunity to engage

No opportunity to communicate information goes amiss at the Studio Tour – everywhere you look there is something to read, listen to or interact with. Each “station” is strategically positioned so you can move seamlessly between sets like Nearly Headless Nick (sorry, fan joke), with no sound interference. Throughout the studio you can read information boards, watch short podcasts, interact with large touchscreens, and all at your own leisure, creating a non-pressurised media renaissance. There are passionate, knowledgeable staff on hand to supplement the detail or answer any questions you may have, and digital guides available in eight languages to personalise the experience even more.  

The queues presented a fantastic opportunity to engage that shouldn’t be wasted in similar scenarios – customers have already chosen to invest time in you so why not make the most of it and keep them entertained, or even teach them something, while they wait.   

Your brand is more than your product

My mother (neither a marketing expert nor a die-hard Harry Potter fan) came along to the tour with me and when asked what she thought made the place so magical, she immediately responded with: “it just has this special atmosphere”. Good answer – not only because it’s true – but because at its core, branding is an emotional experience.  

Where facts, data and functional messages are essential for satisfying the rational side of the decision-making process, it is the emotional response elicited by a brand (created by its fonts, colours, packaging, wording, images and direct experiences) that persists far longer in the minds of customers and drives commitment. 

Warner Bros clearly succeeded in making the magical world real. It’s up to us marketeers to make the real world magical.



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