An Octalysis analysis of Red Cross Connection

Red Cross Connection app logo

Written by Bianca Gelli

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I was thrilled when Yu-kai invited me to publish my Level 1 Octalysis Certificate submission so it is with great pleasure that I share my analysis of the Red Cross Connection gamified campaign.

Red Cross Singapore built the campaign as a call to the youth of Singapore to eliminate blood shortages. The effort did a tremendous job with Discovery and Onboarding, but in my opinion, it needed some serious work on Scaffolding and End-game dynamics. Stick around and see if you agree with me. 

The analysis has remained mainly intact, only improved from the insights I got from Yu-kai’s review on it. Funny story, when I submitted it, I happened to be in the monthly top 10 on Yu-kai’s website leaderboard and I earned a review! Free Lunch mechanic! Whoohoo!

Now, to the analysis. I kept Yu-kai’s guidelines for the submission so it is easy to follow.

  1. Pick any product or gamified system in the market that you think does a very good job on engagement (ideally its successful, and you know about it already).
  2. Provide a brief intro of what it is. Even better, but optional, is if you come up with a full Strategy Dashboard.
  3. Analyze it with an Octalysis Chart with the Octalysis Tool ( or drawings/ppt through the 8 Core Drives.
  4. Identify not only what among the 8 Core Drives is already present (make sure you tie that into how that motivates people, instead of just dropping terms), and put in suggested ways that this can do even better by improving more of the 8 Core Drives.

Octalysis Strategy Dashboard for Red Cross Connection

The gamified system I picked is the app “Red Cross Connection” (Red Cross Singapore), part of the Red Cross Campaign, “Release the hero within you”.

The Red Cross Connection campaign is designed to inspire the youth of Singapore to donate blood.

I’ve provided a partial strategy dashboard on Red Cross Connection to show what compelled them to gamify their system and successfully accomplish their key objectives and goals (Click here to learn more about the strategy dashboard).

1. Business Metrics -> Game Objective

a) Eliminate shortage in Singapore’s blood banks

b) Get X amount of shares from the campaign website

c) Get X amount of App downloads & Sign Up

d) Raise X% the amount of Blood Donations

e) Get X amount of user shares from within the App

f) Get X amount of users inviting other users to the App

2. Users -> Players

Their users are young people, from 18-25 years old who own a smartphone and live in Singapore. They are part of the generation Y, they are digital natives, and pursue meaning and constant feedback behind all they invest time in:

Regular donors: The narrowest segment; these people go to blood centers to donate without significant external motivation. They donate because there is an epic calling when they hear about a shortage of blood, and there is purpose and gratification in knowing that they are acting upon it and saving lives.

Occasional donors: These donors are not active and don’t seek centers, they only donate in face of someone asking them to do so, like in a blood mobile scenario. They do it because of peer pressure, don’t like saying “no” in front of friends, secretly wishing they were not asked in the first place. For them the experience isn’t rewarding enough, there is a lot of effort asked and no sign of the benefit their donations caused, just the reward of looking good in the eyes of his/her friends.

Non-donors: These people don’t donate blood because of the anti-core drives. When they ask unconsciously “what’s in it for me”, there isn’t any answer coming from any of the core drives. The effort is perceived as bigger than the perceived outcome or reward. They will refuse peer pressure and will do anything not to donate. This is not because they are selfish, but because donating gets automatically pushed to the side when there isn’t a lot of emergent perceived value to it. No Epic meaning (They don’t get to see who their blood is helping), no Accomplishment (They don’t receive a card that counts your donations towards a prize), no Empowerment (There are no meaningful choices), no Ownership (Although time is invested in it, they won’t ever see or monitor the donation) no Curiosity (Pretty straight forward and dull process of blood collecting), no Social influence (Maybe a “thank you” by the center rep.), no Scarcity (There isn’t any encouragement for instant action) nor Avoidance (There is no external regulation and of course, some of them might be afraid of needles).

3. Desired Actions -> Win-States

a) Go to the campaign website

b) Share the campaign

c) Download the app & sign up with facebook

d) Click on “Find a center” to find a place to donate blood

e) Go to the center & donate

f) Redeem their points by scanning the QRCode provided by the center after they donate

g) Share their deed (metrics on lives saved, total donations, membership longevity, total shares) and blood type shortage alerts

h) Click on “invite friends”

My Core Drive Analysis of Red Cross Connection

Bianca's Red Cross Connection Octalysis Score

Core Drive #1 EPIC MEANING AND CALLING (10/10)

In the very campaign’s website, there are constant reminders that your participation will release the hero within you through blood donation. “Save lives” is the call to action. The word “hero” has somewhat of a universal connotation to be someone really looked up to. So people naturally want to be in that role, they like to have opportunities to be recognized as a hero, and even more when the required action is within their reach and ability (CD2 as well for they believe they can accomplish it).

                                Figure 1 Campaign website

 “One blood donation helps save 3 lives”: Here you have a clear instruction on how you’ll save lives. For most people, blood donation is within their ability.

“You can make a big difference”: Here the campaign adds meaning and the feeling that you’re unique and the only one that can make the difference. 

Red Cross Connection Menu Screen

                   Figure 2 Campaign website

An animated video shows how the app works, to whom the donation can go to, and that if only 1% more people in Singapore donated, there would be no blood shortage in their banks. It’s an epic calling- a tiny bit of effort can change the situation. This also brings in Core Drive #5, as there is social relatedness when involving a local problem that asks for the help of the community. Also Core Drive #4 (Ownership & Possession)- you naturally want to improve the city you live in.

The video finishes off with “there’s nothing ordinary about someone who saves lives”, again enhancing the Hero theme and triggering the motivation in the potential user to kick off this movement and start sharing and participating.

Make a Difference Red Cross Connection

                  Figure 3 Campaign website

The real time blood meters (that you see in the above image) show the potential user what type of blood is currently being needed the most. This exposes the users to instant feedback on the urgency of the necessity and its change as the days go by. There is something about seeing real time feedback that makes this matter gain another level of trust and sense of urgency that will drive action. Especially for the ones that see that their blood type is the one needed the most.

The campaign website does an exceptional job at Discovery phase, guiding the potential user to share the campaign, download the App and start his/her journey to be a life saver, share deeds and invite friends.


In the onboarding phase, there is an element of Core Drive #2 reinforced by their local statistics which state that with only a 1% increase in donations, they can eliminate shortages. This makes potential users believe again that they can accomplish it.

Red Cross Connection Metrics Page

When in the app, the user is presented with metrics to look at, such as Membership Longevity, Total donations, Lives Saved, number of Shares and also a History tab.

Those metrics help the user see he/she is making progress. If the metrics can be exchanged with some good/virtual good, eventually it will evolve into Core Drive #4, where the user creates ownership over those numbers.

The metrics are fixed ratio rewards derived from cause and effect. They are directly correlated with the action of donating (adds to history, total donations and lives saved) and the act of sharing (adds to the “Shares” counter).

The history tab does a great job in the Onboarding phase by emphasizing Core Drive #1 again with a call to action present: “Start donating today, every donation can save three lives”, and “Head to your nearest blood donation center”.

Red Cross Connection User Metrics PageThey could add another layer of player segmentation by granting them different tiers to be achieved every 10 lives saved for example, which would give them milestones to strive for and see accomplishment from another angle. Making it a victory to reach every 10 lives saved increases the feeling of Mastery and makes the users eager to see that next tier title by their name. This is also tied to Core Drive #4, Ownership and Possession.

Because this is supposed to be a long-term participation to keep the blood shortage down, the app needs to have more goals for users to strive for and more ways to develop and accomplish, having the simple text “save 6 more lives to be in Tier X” will act like a progress bar and will drive users to want to achieve it faster.

Core Drive #3 Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback (0/10)

This Core Drive is not touched by this app, it does lack Mid and End-game techniques to keep it interesting.

A couple of ways to take advantage of this Core Drive might be:

Red Cross Connection Blood TrackerBecause the theme is “hero”, the users could be free to express themselves in an avatar that can be customized. Just like in an MMO where we choose a basic race and then tweak it until we make the most of our expression, this app could provide basic starting heroes and allow users to use the available outfit combinations for the “tier” they are in. Tiers, beyond being a great way to show Status in the network, are a form of granting Access, things that only the invested users can enjoy.

I think this can be enhanced also by adding freedom for users to actually create and upload their own hero designs that most represent them. This will also create a lot of Core Drive #4 in which people will feel attached and invested in the campaign.

The way feedback can be tied to this is having a voting system for the best hero designs in the network. This system also brings about Core Drive #5- people like to influence each other.

Core Drive  #4 Ownership and Possession (4/10)

Red Cross Connection find a blood centerIn this app you feel ownership over your profile, it’s like your hero’s bio. Because you want to improve your profile, you naturally want to raise the numbers of “lives saved”, “total donations” and “shares”.

This app does use this Core Drive also in the sense that this activity is requiring a lot of effort and labor from the participants. Donating blood is not an easy process, it requires time and patience. People have to be willing to deal with the aftermath of donations (like drinking plenty of water afterwards for a couple of days while the blood level normalizes). So after giving all this labor to the app, the user has got to feel very invested in it.

There could be more ownership generated by the avatar customization like mentioned earlier, with all the virtual goods that players can unlock as they move up in the tiers.

Also, every hero has an epic name, this should be encouraged in the profile creation, this would enhance the “hero” theme and people would also develop attachment over it.

Core Drive #5 Social Influence & Relatedness (4/10)

There is relatedness right in the discovery and onboarding phase, the app is local to Singapore citizens.

The only type of social influence is the sharing and inviting friends. I’d suggest having more statistics like “How many donations were made through this campaign so far”, “how many donations were made this month” as they will get the user feeling proud of being part of it.

There is no leaderboard in the app, which could help with monitoring the performance in the network as well. Seeing who the donors are directly ahead of you and directly behind you will keep people accountable and help make sure they up with their donations. It helps with feeling how “alive” this campaign is and encourages people to participate.

There isn’t any activity monitoring like a live feed in the app, so it does feel like a lonely experience. The notifications displayed in the activity feed would be something like “Hero X just earned a medal for donating in all 3 centers” or “Hero Y just donated for center X, his 1st donation” or “Hero W just completed his 10th donation”. This will create the wish to be recognized also.

To respond to the feed, users could send a “Pat in the back”, the minimum amount of social interaction. This would make the network of donors more connected.

This campaign is targeted to young users, who like to do things in groups and be among friends. There could be a badge for “the advocates”, people who get their friends to sign up and make their first donation. Another badge idea is one for taking a group to the center to donate. This will add to the pool of things to be accomplished and also increase the social aspect of the campaign, making users feel related to each other in the sharing of the experience. Also, “the advocate” badge, like mentioned earlier, can get people strategizing and being creative on how to get more people to become donors for the app, so that they can get the badge (Core Drive #2 and #4).

Groups that donate together could form their “League of Heroes” guild, doing things together is always more fun and adds to the relatedness.

Core Drive #6 Scarcity and Impatience (0/10)

This CD is not touched by this app. If such an avatar customization feature like mentioned were added, maybe the user could see a very nice piece of clothing for his/her hero but that is only available for a higher tier user. That would make them a little impatient and in a situation where they can’t wait to get to that tier.

There could also be a mechanic like, for example, January is the official blood donor month, so the first 100 users that donate in this month will receive special virtual clothing themed for the particular year. This would encourage users to donate early in every January, because that cool piece of clothing is scarce. This also makes users feel Core Drive #8 and try to avoid losing this opportunity.

Core Drive #7 Curiosity and Unpredictability (2/10)

The unpredictability drive is not used in the campaign. But this app could take this to the next level by adding in a variable of luck. Every time you scan a code from your donation, you have a chance to receive a virtual “Lucky token”. Then two times a year, there will be a raffle to win a shirt with your customized hero printed on it, the more “lucky tokens” you have, the more chance to win. Introducing then a random kind of reward as well as a lottery type of reward. The collection aspect of the lucky tokens will also bring Core Drive #4.

Core Drive #8 Loss & Avoidance (2/10)

Loss and avoidance can definitely have an impact if the user ever considers adopting another app of similar purpose and abandoning this one. That is because all the effort given to this campaign that was tracked by the metrics will not be transferable to the other app, and the user will feel a loss if he moves. He/she might choose to stay in fear of the loss of investment. (Sunk cost prison)

The app doesn’t imply any FOMO (Fear of missing out) where you feel like you need to take instant action or you’ll lose the chance to get better or be recognized. This app can take advantage of this Core Drive by having losable badges. For example, the user earns a badge for donating once every month, but if he breaks the streak and doesn’t donate for 2 months, the badge will be lost. So making those losable will get players to try to avoid that loss.

There will be milestones in the streaking, like once you reach 5 once-a-month donations, the badge solidifies and is not losable anymore. But a new badge pops up counting from 5-10, and if you don’t keep consistency you’ll lose this new one, that will only solidify when you reach 10. And so on.

My Conclusion on the Red Cross Connection app

Overall, because the main business metric is to eliminate blood shortage in the banks – and it does require long-term participation – I’d suggest that they spend more time designing mechanics to support Scaffolding and End-game phases to ultimately keep the users engaged and coming back.

Now that I look back at this submission, I believe the Octalysis framework allows us to collect deep findings about the motivational qualities of any effort towards engagement. I highly recommend doing this exercise and sending it over to Yu-kai so we can unlock Level 2 certification! Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to your comments.

Thanks Yu-kai & Co for making this possible!

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