Gamification’ is one of those buzz-terms being bandied around by marketers, keen to jump onto the latest digital bandwagon. Today, it seems that customer engagement is all about gold stars and virtual badges.

But without the journey, these rewards are worthless – like winning a football trophy without playing a game. Without the satisfaction of taking part and progressing, gamification is worthless. So many misunderstand this and that is why gamification is so often done badly.

However, at a very simple level, gamification does revolve around the distribution of rewards – such as these virtual levels and badges- to engage a customer. By incorporating game-centric design, brands can keep their audience participating and engaged, making the user feel happy with rewards and the fun had along the way.

Fun is the key here – gamification is about incorporating play to make an experience more exciting. Gamification is not just about the reward, but about the experience that gives users the reward.

When the process has been carefully thought out, and the brand has considered its aims and audience, gamification can work really well. You only need to look at the huge success that Foursquare has had over the past year to see that people love to engage with brands and ‘gamify’ their day.

It is when companies oversimplify their ideas, without giving thought to experiences and the ‘fun’ aspect, that it can go wrong. When done well, gamification techniques can mean that word spreads quickly over the internet and social networking sites, and can even change a brand’s reputation. Equally, it can seem badly thought out and patronising.

Many brands will try to emulate other companies’ game-centric design, which can be repetitive and unsuited to the brand. Pure gamification revolves around creating an experience with seamless, transient consistency and this is where Global Dawn is revolutionary.

We strive to learn more about users as individuals, gathering data to understand and group that person. By examining user’s preferences, reactions and what they have responded to, brands can target them and tailor their experience accordingly.

In short, although gamification seems like a simple process, it requires a lot of planning. As the web becomes saturated with brands employing game-centric techniques, we will certainly see a rise in badly put-together gamified websites.

The benefits for brands, when gamification is done well, include getting a lot of data about users, particularly when a platform is linked to a social network, as well as a deep level of engagement. But when done badly, a brand’s reputation can be tarnished forever.