Branding a Game Company

You can’t be everything to everyone. We are all uniquely different. Think of a close friend. What feelings come to mind? What words describe that friend? Now, think of another friend. What feelings come to mind? I bet you had distinctive feelings for both friends. That’s their brand.

Brands are like people. They take on personality traits and we like those traits or we don’t.

This means you are a brand. You evoke certain feelings when people think of you. The entirety of who you are, is your brand. Your beliefs, likes, dislikes, attitude, personality, style, etc. are all things that create you. These same things make up a company brand.

We all have distinct feelings about each of the top ten brands in 2009. Some brands you know better than others; some brands you like better than others. It’s no different than friends compared to acquaintances. Being everyone’s best friend is being no one’s best friend.

Building a brand for a game company is the same as for a car company, beverage company, restaurant, or any business. The major game companies don’t need a lesson in the importance of branding–they already spend millions a year doing it. That’s why their games sell so well. Consumers know their product. We know what to expect from a game with the EA logo on it.

When your target audience sees your game with your logo, do they know what to expect? They should. A company name should sell itself. That’s the power of a brand.

Your company needs to have a brand as much as you need to have a personality. It doesn’t matter how big or small: a one man show or a thousand man spectacle. You need a brand.

Your customers will develop feelings about your company based on points of contact. These experiences can be influenced or the chips can fall where they may. There are brands that people want to evangelize and tell their friends about. That brand makes a top ten list. That’s a brand you want. That brand didn’t happen by accident.

A strong brand allows for competition on more than price. Competing on price is the weakest competitive advantage. Anyone can lower prices until they go out of business. That’s not smart business. Smart businesses create their own market with few competitors. You can’t achieve this without a brand.

thatgamecompany, the makers of the popular flOw, has a distinct brand. Their games are truly unlike any others in the industry. Their games won’t be a fit for everyone and that’s okay. They call their games “core games”. They are in their own market with few competitors.

So how do you build a brand and benefit from it? First, your company needs to know Who am I?

You have an identity. The people who make up your company have an identity. What are they? What makes you tick? What makes your employees tick? Why are you in business? What do you do? Why do you wake up every day? What is your passion? What do you offer your customers?

Why Audio & Video is Critical to Your Brand

What is your brand?

In business, a brand is the identity that your business develops with the public, or its general consumer population, through marketing, promotion, and long-term dedication to high quality service and/or products. A brand is what people generally think of when they are introduced to a logo or a business name.

One of the most famous brands in business is Nike. Their ‘swoosh’ design has become synonymous with athletics and athletic shoes. Nike spent millions of dollars and decades developing and honing their brand through print, radio, and television marketing, as well as sponsoring professional athletes, the most famous being Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

Branding the iron

When you take your business to the public, you want to develop a brand. Of course, your goals may include one day becoming as big and popular as Nike, but you have to think smaller, and more realistic, unless, of course, you have tens of millions of dollars stashed away that you’re willing to spend on advertising and marketing. Most of us, however, have very limited resources for creating and developing our business’s brand.

Which means that we will have to use any and all available tools at our disposal. The Internet has become a more level playing field and while the massive businesses continue to reign supreme, the rest of us can compete with just about anyone out there if we use our imaginations, have the dedication, and are resourceful.

There are many ways to develop our brand along the Internet. The first is branding with audio. The second is branding with video.

Branding with audio

The Internet is still dominated by text. Better than 90% of all content found on the Internet today is generated through words. This is due, in large part, to the way that search engines rank websites based on particular keywords. But the tide is changing and branding with audio is becoming a popular tool for many young businesses and entrepreneurs.

Through social media sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, we can build networks of friends and followers who are interested in what we have to offer. Creating a logo identity will be important to establishing an instantaneous recognition with the products or services that you offer, but reaching out by branding with audio can help drive home the business’s identity.

More and more people are turning to sound bites for their source of information. The time it takes to read an article about a topic or product, an audio recording can deliver the same message, with some entertainment value, two or three times over.

Five Top Tips For Personal Branding

Personal branding is how you portray yourself to the world. It is how others actually see you, not necessarily how you may want to come across. One can create a positive brand image as a successful entrepreneur, but one can also come across as a criminal-a negative brand image. To make sure your personal brand efforts reflect what you desire, see the following five top tips on using it to succeed in your Internet marketing efforts.

Focus Your Personal Branding Efforts

Everyone is an expert on something. Put another way, no one is an expert on everything. Personal branding starts with finding those certain areas of knowledge and experience that you have accumulated that are significantly greater than the Average Joe. Find those one, two, or three things to focus on, and write and work on those. Establishing your area of expertise is the first step in building your own brand.

Find Your Voice

With personal branding, you are not an everyman – by definition, it means that you are a unique being with a completely fresh perspective on things. Make sure you sound like one in your blog posts and articles and on your site. Your personal branding should be compelling and strong. To define your brand, ask yourself these questions: What is it that makes me special? Why should anyone care? Why should my customers give me some of their precious time?

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

It’s not enough to show up on time for only one day. You have to do it again and again and again. Show consistency in building your own brand: You have to portray the same brand in everything you do, from your home page to your contact form, from your emails to your webinars. Everything communicates your personal branding message.

Personal branding may require an investment. Spend the money to have your website professionally done and even have your articles ghostwritten if necessary. If there is a chink in your brand armor, someone will find it, and that one chink can be your undoing. Misspellings, grammatical errors, typos… all of these detract from your own brand.

Get the Word Out

If you’ve taken the steps above, you’re ready to launch your own brand. Publicize it through Internet marketing.

See how far you come rise up in the Google rankings and take steps to improve your position. “Network” your own brand marketing by linking to other sites that portray the appropriate image and are related to your field. Comment on the work of others (only positive) to start. Make sure to identify yourself – people need to know who you are in order to become familiar with your own brand – and provide a link to your site.

Paid advertising opportunities such as pay-per-click can be helpful in your brand marketing strategies as well. If something works, consider increasing your spending on that venue to further amplify your personal branding message.

The World of Branding Never Stops – Ongoing Education is Required For Success

For those that wish to succeed in the branding and marketing business at any level, whether it is a small business chain or extremely large Corporation with outlets and sales in hundreds of countries – it is imperative to never stop thinking about your relationship and brand in the eyes of your customers. Perhaps it is for this reason that I attempt to read at least one branding and marketing book each and every month, and I have for years.

Some are good and some are not so good, and occasionally you read a great one. Nevertheless, you will always learn something in each and every one – a different insight from a different perspective from a different author. Many of these authors have decades of experience behind them in various industries, and it is wise to borrow their knowledge and apply it to other industries, even your own. One book I’d like to recommend to you about branding is;

“Married to the Brand – Why Consumers Bond With Some Brands for Life,” William J. McEwen, Gallup Press, Princeton, NJ, 2005. (135 pp) ISBN: 1-59562-005-2.

This book has hundreds of examples of great companies, great branding, and success stories – for instance, the greatest wine company in the world by Earnest and Julio Gallo. Speaking of which, I am not sure who is doing their current branding and marketing, but they are on fire and accelerating the value of that brand, perhaps they read this book as I have. I am especially impressed with their work in the Spanish Gallo Wine division and the other Spanish wines. Amazing how well branding works when it is practiced by the best in the business.

The author of “Married to the Brand” made examples of Southwest Airlines, Nike, DW, FedEx, Disney, Nordstrom, Singapore Airlines, Guinness beer, Ritz-Carlton MasterCard, Intel, British Petroleum, Apple Computers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart Morton Salt, Gallo, and even their own branded Gallup Polls. In fact, this book is filled with statistics as well as discussing the reality of “loyalty programs” and how well they actually work, or don’t. William makes light of the fact that there is a need for personal connection and that will determine how the consumers marry brands and make it part of their personal identity.

There were some very interesting statistics that most entrepreneurs would be interested in for instance 58% of the population believes that all banks are the same, 45% of the population believes that all airlines are the same, and 54% believe that all website marketers online are the same. There is a need for these companies to trigger an emotional attachment. Once they do that it behooves them to concentrate on a justification for the purchaser – in other words, first, they must concentrate on what the customer wants, and then what the customer needs allowing them justification for themselves, family, and friends.

One of the main rationales behind this book was customers need to be treated as if they are on first dates, and then work on building a relationship, and then prepare for the marriage – in that regard I would say the title of the book says it all. Branding is something that is pervasive in our everyday lives and the average grocery store has between 40,000 to 50,000 branded items on its shelves. Even the unknown name brands actually have a brand, such as; plain wrap, special store brand, no-frills brand.

Companies must make good on their brand promise and then provide a connection with the customer opening up the door for the brand experience and in engaging the customer in a brand relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is a normal brand such as a Ford Trucks, or a prestige brand like Rolls Royce Luxury Automobiles. There are many different categories for brands such as membership brands, personal identity brands, memory triggering brands, and self completion brands, as in “I have arrived,” by displaying the product, or using a service.

Global Branding is Here to Stay

In the 1980s and 90s, Korean companies were not known for their marketing prowess. They were manufacturing focused and their products were often seen as low quality, or “me-too” items. Further, their marketing efforts were not coordinated globally and often focused on sub-brands in overseas markets that were created with the goal of tailoring the product offering and positioning to local market needs.

Today, the major Korean companies – particularly Samsung, LG, and Hyundai – are marketing (and in many cases market) leaders. They have leading, high quality products and marketing programs that are consistent and compelling globally. And perhaps most importantly, they have made the case for the global brands more convincing than ever.

Korean companies are not the only ones to successfully implement global branding. Google, Nike, and McDonald’s are just a few examples of companies that have built global brands. However, starting with Samsung in the early 2000s, Korean companies showed clearly the benefits that can be reaped by consolidating marketing initiatives and spending towards one global or umbrella brand, as opposed to implementing fragmented local efforts.

Of course, the most important part of building a respected brand is offering compelling products, which Korean companies did through concerted efforts to improve the quality and innovation of the products they offered. Armed with these products, Korean companies then spent billions of dollars to build their brands – awareness and image – on a global basis.

As a result, today these companies are winning in a big way. Market share, revenues, and profits are at all time highs. The brands are household names well beyond the Korean borders.

It all makes sense of course. For years, I have worked with companies struggling with the global vs. local brand dilemma. In many cases, a local market leader had a sub-brand or even another brand that he or she believed should be used instead of the parent brand. The reasoning was always the same – there is some brand awareness of the local brand, or sub-brand, that would be lost should the focus go to the global brand and the local brand be eliminated, the local brand was more suited to the consumer needs in the target market, and it would be more effective to spend the small, local marketing budget on the local brand, as opposed to the unknown global brand. I have always had difficulty with this logic and believe Korean companies have clearly made the case as to why the global brand should instead be the priority.

At the core of the argument for the global brand is economics. Samsung spent billions of dollars building the Samsung brand over the last decade. Had Samsung instead broken up its brand portfolio and spent a portion of these billions on sub-brands in different markets, it is highly unlikely that this spending would have had the same impact – and it may have confused the consumer, who now travels globally and accesses TV, internet and other media content on a global basis. By focusing on building one brand name consistently, Samsung and the other Korean companies have been able to make tremendous progress in a short time in building their brands worldwide.

Using Your Brand in All the Right Places

Branding is one of the key underlying concepts behind the success of many businesses both large and small. You know a certain well-known soda pop by its distinctive red color, because of the tagline “It’s the real thing,” and behind the old-fashioned Santa they have used on many marketing pieces for dozens of years. This is that soda pop’s branding. Let’s look at what you ought to consider for your own branding and then to decide whether you’re using your branding in enough places.

The Key Elements Behind Great Branding

Branding is a strategy that can give you an edge in these highly competitive times. Your brand tells people who you are, what you do, how you do it, and what concepts drives your business. Think of Nike’s simple swish logo and the words “Just do it!” Your brand, like theirs, is a promise to your customer about what they can expect from you, so it’s important you touch on the key elements when you create your brand.

1. Have you developed a Mission Statement for your company? It can really stretch you out and refine your concepts down to get your grandiose plans and schemes into one paragraph. Unless you can communicate these concepts to your graphic designer, she cannot create an appearance for them.

2. Can you succinctly describe the features and benefits your clients will be receiving from your products and services? Again, a designer cannot create some graphical element about these benefits unless you can articulate them.

3. Have you surveyed your many (or few) clients to get their appraisal of your products and services? They can provide many keen insights into what your company is making or doing, and they can provide many things they wish you would do that would serve them better more specifically. Then, these additional benefits can be explained to your graphic designer to be incorporated into your brand.

4. Have you decided which one or two qualities your company will stand for? Is it fast service? Is it going beyond what is expected? Is it integrity? What is it? don’t you want your branding to represent this? Wouldn’t you like all of your clients to know this about you via your branding?

Where To Use Your Branding.
Once your graphic designer creates a branding look for you, and once you begin to use the branding in many of your marketing pieces, let’s look at some examples of where this branding can then be used.

1. Is your logo just everywhere? Is it on your website, your business cards, your brochures, your PowerPoint template, your newsletter, your employment ads? Is it on the license plate holders of all your employees? Is it on the van your folks use for car pooling? Is there a flag in front of your locations with your logo on it? Do you have a ring made from it? A lapel pin? Name tags for your employees? Wouldn’t it be an interesting project for your Marketing Manager to stroll through your facility and discover places where your logo could be instituted?

5 Ways to Leverage Your Personal Brand For Greater Career Success

How to differentiate yourself from peers and competitors is the question, and personal branding is the answer. Here are five key insights into why individual executives need to discover and market their own personal brands – just as large organizations must market their corporate brands.

#1 Success Today Demands a Magnetic Brand

The global economy has drastically altered our employment landscape and new rules apply. Even top professional jobs are unstable, so high achievers have to stay on the innovative edge of career opportunities. Today it is common for executives to change jobs every several years – not every few decades – because of lay-offs, downsizing, or the desire to work in a different and more exciting and rewarding environment.

Highly successful leaders and high achievers are now managing their own careers by discovering and leveraging a personal brand to attract greater business opportunities and career progress. Those who understand how to use this innovative business tool become the hunted – not the hunter – as they are actively sought out and courted for prized positions and leadership roles.

#2 Why Personal Branding Works

Large corporations like Starbucks spend millions of dollars to instill and nurture strong brand loyalty by communicating clear, concise, consistent advertising messages about their unique promise of value. Otherwise why do we spend top dollar on a cup of coffee at Starbucks when we could stop by McDonalds and pick up a caffeine boost at a bargain price?

It’s because we will pay a premium to identify with their brand – which encompasses a great store ambiance, specialty coffees, and that inviting and innovative cultural and social place where we can meet and mingle. We spend more in order to get more – which means we expect to be served not just a cup of java but also the emotional feeling and experience conveyed through their carefully crafted brand.

Personal branding utilizes the same principles of brand marketing to help professionals discover their authenticity and unique promise of value. As a personal branding strategist I tell my clients it’s like discovering your true self and then communicating it to a selective group of people so that you become the highly sought after celebrity within your area of expertise. Professionals typically only need to market their unique brand to a very selective and influential group of superiors, human resource professionals, or competitors in order to get “A-listed” on the “fast-track” to greater success. The rest happens automatically as people beat a path to your door.

#3 The Mirror Principle: Discover and Know Thyself

One of the most innovative business tools I utilize with my clients to help them discover their personal brand is the 360 Reach Assessment tool. Unlike other corporate 360 assessments, this particular branding tool allows you to receive an