If you’ve ever pulled the slingshot back and sent a furious fowl down range, you know how addicting the game Angry Birds can be. You’re also not alone. By far the most downloaded app ever, it’s been #1 in the app store for over 300 days.
Earlier this week I heard Peter Vesterbacka, Mighty Eagle (Chief Marketing Officer) at Rovio talk about the attitude and culture of the company that created such a worldwide phenomenon. I collected a few eggs of wisdom:
1. Aim Higher. When Angry Birds debuted they set their sights on 100 million downloads…and everyone thought they were crazy. For perspective, Tetris—at the time, the most popular game ever—was the only game with 100 million downloads. Angry Birds passed that coveted mark in just 15 months. This year they’re on track to pass 1 billion downloads. What does Vesterbacka have to say about that? “It’s a good start.”
2. Narrow your focus. At Rovio, they care about two things and two things only: Their fans & Their brand. That’s it.
3. Keep Connected. Unlike traditional entertainment channels (e.g. movies, TV, music, etc.), Rovio keeps their fans close. “We know our fans and communicate with them everyday.” At Rovio, they have three goals, in this order: #1 Get Fans. #2 Keep Fans. #3 (and it’s a distant third) Try to monetize. So far the model is working incredibly well.
4. Don’t settle. Rovio has translated a video game brand into in T-shirts, toys, books, snacks, drinks, TV shows, movies, even activity parks. They launched a game from the international space station. They took over Times Square for their latest launch. Anything is possible. Knock down the walls you think are holding you in.
5. Stay Humble. Whether they’re launching a new game, entering the toy industry, or developing an animation studio, the folks at Rovio don’t shrink away from foreign fields—and they don’t storm in assuming they’re experts. Their attitude? “We don’t know everything, but we can learn.”
6. Be patient. Rovio developed 51 games over six years—mostly for other companies—before they completed and launched Angry Birds.
7. Enjoy Yourself. Vesterbacka recalls that during the 8 months it took to develop Angry Birds most of the developers were playing the game nonstop; they were having a great time doing their work. This was the first hint that they were onto something big.
8. Don’t coast. Angry Birds isn’t like other games that you download once and that’s it. Rovio updates its games every few weeks, adding more levels and new challenges. Four to five times a year they launch a new version of the game.
9. Respond creatively. While China is Rovio’s second largest market after the US, Angry Birds is also the most copied brand in the country. What’s Vesterbacka’s response? “It’s a good start…now we can start selling our licensed products.” Instead of sending in an army of lawyers (which they don’t have), Rovio is combating piracy by opening its own retail stores in China and providing customers with a better experience.
10. Think big. Rovio isn’t just about short-term successes or even astronomical download numbers. They see themselves as “building the future of entertainment.”
11. Have Purpose. Ultimately, Rovio’s endgame isn’t just about video games. They want to do something meaningful. They want to give the world education. They want to make learning fun, because we all learn better when we’re having fun!
Which of these principles speak to you the most? Which can you apply as a leader today?