Sensory Branding For The Win: Learn from Anime and Video Gaming Events

Sensory branding is the key success factor in any events, including business events. Done right, your event – or event booth if you’re a participant – is deemed as successful. But what is sensory branding, and why is it important? Let’s discuss sensory branding using what I think the most prominent examples of all: Anime and video gaming events.

Nintendo Floor at E3 2015
Nintendo Floor, E3 2015 – photo credit: – EMR – / Flickr

Anime and video gaming events: Sensory branding at its best

Are you familiar with anime, manga or any other Japanese-style events? Or, are you familiar with gaming events? If you’re familiar with either, there is one that characterized both types of event: Cosplay.

Appleseed cosplayers
Appleseed cosplayers – photo credit: Jeriaska / Flickr

Before we explain what cosplay is, let’s get familiar with the events first. Anime and video gaming are among the most popular events among die-hard fans and enthusiasts. Events are almost-guaranteed packed with visitors. Just like any other events, those niche events feature products of world-famous brands. In video game events, game developers launch new games and technology. In anime events, production houses feature popular characters, new movies, new series, new products, and merchandises.

Anime – Japanese-style animation – and video games typically focused on unique characters that become the ‘starring’ or subjects of the end products. Are you familiar with Pokemon Go? Then the subjects are the monsters (gotta catch ’em all!)

Now let’s go back to where we started: So, what is cosplay? Cosplay is costume play – you dress up as a character from an anime serial or video game. It’s considered as a performance art, which cosplayers dress up as their favorite characters, act like them and even speak like them. To complete your cosplay look, here are swords for sale to find the ideal sword for you, one that not only cuts with the accuracy of a scalpel but also enables you to claim, “This represents me.”

Cosplayers, even those who aren’t directly related to particular brands, add value to the events. They engage with event visitors – talk with them, act with them and take selfies – or wefies – with them.

I view cosplayers’ role in such events as important, if not critical. Without them, I’m not sure the events will be as successful.

What gives?

Brands forge emotional associations with visitors through cosplayers

Cosplayers relate with event visitors on an emotional level. Personally see your favorite childhood character comes to live is an amazing experience for kids and adults. That’s why brands collaborate with cosplayers to do brand storytelling. I don’t know about you, but I think cosplayers are exceptional artists. Anyone can dress like any anime characters, but actually pulling it off (read: turning heads, getting visitors swarm around the cosplayers, etc.) requires much talent.

Maridah does Mirai cosplay
Maridah does Mirai cosplay – photo credit: Danny Choo / Flickr

That’s what sensory branding is all about: Definition-wise, it’s a type of marketing that appeals to the five senses of the audience, in such a way that a brand can engage the audience on an emotional level.

If brands can engage their potential customers emotionally, they win. It’s that simple.

So, what are the secrets?

Brand sensory secrets - infographic by Marler Haley

As you can see from Marler Haley‘s infographic, the secrets to your event success lie in the activities that stimulate all five senses simultaneously. What are they?

  • In-person marketing
  • Exhibitions
  • Conferences

Essentially, all activities that involve one-to-one interaction offer great opportunities to ‘convert’ visitors into enthusiasts – and eventually, buyers. And in anime events, video gaming events, cosplay events and everything else in between, cosplayers do just that: They play a major role in stimulating all the five senses by engaging visitors on an in-person basis, face-to-face – representing their respective brands.

Remember, 74 percent say that they will likely to buy from you when you engage them with branded event marketing experience. No question: Just do it.

Pokemon Go cosplayers
Pokemon Go cosplayers – photo credit: Nathan Rupert / Flickr


So, the next time you’re participating in any business events or expos, not only setting up an eye-catching booth, but you should also consider hiring a cosplayer – or at least have an employee or two to wear a costume and engage visitors.