Toca Boca, Sago Sago… Kids Branding Is Great Gibberish.

I’ve finally gotten some time to look at my personal project for next semester. I should’ve had a proper gander at it long before now but it’s been a busy summer, with 2 fortnight-long placements with working full-time in the gaps where I’m out of Glasgow. But enough of my excuses!

My project is to create an online channel for children which encourages and inspires them to be creative. Often creative subjects are given a low priority, particularly in schools, where maths and english are compulsory subjects whereas art, music and drama are sometimes missed from the curriculum entirely. My aim is to create a prototype of an online channel which nurtures children’s interest in every one of these areas, and most of all encourages them to play and experiment. The whole thing will then be hosted on Vimeo and YouTube, to allow an easy platform for children to reply and participate with.

I’m starting with the branding for my channel and I’ve been looking at recent Swedish children’s app developer and success-story Toca Boca as a good starting point, looking at a recent interview with The Guardian.

Toca kitchen was a break-through title for the studio.

Toca kitchen was a break-through title for the studio.

Toca Boca describe their apps as “digital toys” and focus very much on a sense of play. It’s not overbearingly education focused, as some children’s brands are. This is fantastic attitude for a brand as otherwise companies can alienate children, making the children feel like they are talking to adults cocky enough to feel like they have everything to teach. Instead Toca just want to play.

It’s difficult to think who a children’s brand should apply to. In previous decades branding had to actually be suited more to parents who solely governed what their children were bought and, to a degree, what products they consumed. Now, thanks to the app store, children decide on purchases more independently, thus we see brand which are perhaps more aimed to please kid.

Toca Boca are lucky enough to have struck a balance between pleasing parents and children. Once again, the focus isn’t on education, but it has a bright optimism which feels universal. A brand like Moshi Monsters has left some parents scratching their heads with how to approach it or what is even is. Toca is unbridled simplicity.

Recently they acquired Canadian firm Zinc Roe, rebranding them to be Sago Sago. They saw the talent the Canadian team had and invested in them as an extension of Toca Boca aimed at a younger demographic, a studio for very young children. The branding takes a similar approach to its audience though.

Sago Sago are also sub-branded to Sago mini for an even younger audience.

However Toca Boca’s success would suggest that parents still have power in whether the company can function. A large portion of their advertising is through word of mouth, not from the children using the apps but from the parents impressed by their positive impact.

The companies don’t ever come across as preaching or condescending, and parents don’t need to be told bluntly that these apps are teaching their kids more than their ABCs. In fact that in itself feels more like a brand simply stating what the company does. Toca and Sago’s branding describes why they do it. It has a personality, and it’s a personality both kids and parents want to get to know.

You can find more interesting articles on Toca Boca here and here. Lovely. As for the names Toca Boca and Sago Sago? They might sound like gibberish, but apparently Toca Boca is wordplay in Spanish for the words touch and mouth. Even their name is all about play, all in a way that couldn’t roll off the tongue easier. Interesting…

Listening to: Pleasure Palaces by Errors



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