No, it’s not my aim to paint pastel stripes or tie chiffon ribbons on your company logo. Not the kind of Easter eggs we’re talking about here. The Easter egg I’m referring to is “an intentional hidden message, inside joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, movie, book, or crossword.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

The concept of the Easter egg is typically attributed to Warren Robinett, a video game designer at Atari, in one of the first action-adventure video games ever made, “Adventure” (1979). Robinett designed a secret method for unlocking a room during game play that displayed his name, something that had never been done before.

How Easter Eggs Can Help Build Your Brand

So how does this actually translate into brand-reinforcing content? Well, building your brand is all about creating a personal connection with your audience. Whether you have a B2B or B2C brand, your audience wants to feel like you actually get them on some level. There are a number of ways to do this. You can “market” your company culture, interact with your fans on social media, develop a great blog strategy, etc.

Easter eggs are different. Easter eggs are totally fabricated and engineered “in-jokes” for your “in-crowd.” They create a sense of unity and camaraderie with the people who really get what you do and appreciate it. (We like to call these people “customers” and “potential customers.”)

Plus, everyone knows Easter eggs are fabricated, which helps give your brand a sense of transparency that your audience will appreciate.

Examples of Brand-Reinforcing Easter Eggs

Okay, so you want some examples of what this actually looks like? Here are a few…

  • Go to YouTube and type in “do the harlem shake,” and then watch YouTube do the Harlem Shake.
  • Siri, of course, is loaded with Easter eggs. Take these A.I.-self-conscious Easter eggs about movie plot synopses.
  • The NBC show Parks and Recreation recently released an episode stuffed full of references (18 of them) to David Foster Wallace’s epic novel, Infinite Jest.
  • Try looking up walking directions between ‘The Shire’ and ‘Mordor’ on Google Maps.
  • Did you know that you can use the camera on your Mac to input the numbers on your iTunes gift cards?

You get the idea. Easter Eggs aren’t just for games and movies. You can integrate them into your own website, blog, and company apps. All it takes is a little creativity (followed by some winking and nudging at your loyal brand followers).

When an Easter Egg Cracks

Of course, whenever you have an in-joke, there are outsiders. Be careful that your Easter eggs aren’t abstruse and/or isolating. Also, be careful of Easter eggs that require understanding in order for your audience to be your customer.

With the above Easter egg examples, you don’t have to “get” the joke in order to enjoy using Google Maps or YouTube, which is why they’re good Easter eggs. As long as the enjoyable use of your product/service isn’t contingent upon getting the joke, there’s no reason why your Easter egg shouldn’t be successful with your target audience!

Any Easter egg/business-branding ideas jumping to mind? Have some favorite examples of your own? Share them in the comments section.