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Building A Brand With Games

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Games can be a great way for a company to enhance its brand and presence. Fun, interactive, immersive, who wouldn’t love some free entertainment? That said it’s not as easy as it seems! We’ve already done an article on the pitfalls of marketing games, but lets look more at the upsides here – there are plenty!

Custom made games are a great way that companies can reach out to people in a fun, no pressure way to simply build up recognition and positive opinion. By engaging with the public as a source of fun, companies can create important positive emotional connections and memories unlike any other advertising option. Sure, a well made TV ad might get remembered (if you are lucky!), but it’s not going to have the associated context of fun and friendship that a game will! Not only can games create stronger, more positive associations, but people will even seek them out, how often does that happen for your other advertising campaigns?

Brands Are Vibes

Branding is the key to marketing in the 20th and 21st centuries. We don’t simply sell a product, we sell brands. They’re the name you trust. The familiar colour schemes you reach for. We’ve used symbol, loyalty, identity, and the cult of personality to transform sales. People now associate with a brand. They identify with them. But what is a brand? They’re hardly deep with ideology or meaning, unlike the other usual associations people have beyond their family circle like religion or politics. Ultimately brands are really just vibes. The products can be the same under the label, the brand is really just the air of personality, a feeling, a sense, a vague concept of values that people can identify and identify with. Brand is powerful, but also incredibly fickle, hard to define, and very hard to create, or at least successfully.

Template Games – The Easy Answer?

Brands are vibes. They’re the feel they give through whatever associations and emotions the marketing has tried to establish. Games can be an amazingly deep, exciting, fun and memorable way to create this vibe. They can also go wrong. The easiest choice companies can make when considering game marketing is the plethora of companies offering template games. Super quick, easy and cheap – just choose the basic type of game, sen them your logo and they slap together your branded game experience! This is an almost guaranteed way to fail. Ask yourself is the association you want for your brand bland, generic and lazy? That’s what you’re signing up for. And trust me gamers will notice. Do you really think that you can talk to a target audience based on a hobby and phone it in when it comes to the basis of that hobby? You’re best hope in this situation is the game is so bad that it becomes famously mocked. Maybe you’re the type that believes there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but that’s sure not an association I’d want to entangle with my brand. Avoid template games, and the hacks that offer them like the plague, they’re just looking for a fast buck, so unless you want to be a sucker, you can do better.

Know & Target Your Audience

The key to success is to know and target your audience for a game-based marketing campaign. A brand often has a strong association with a particular crowd to hit the right vibe. Is your product trying to go for a new generation angle aimed at 12-21 year olds? Aiming for key consumers like college and young adults 18-30? Going for more of a stable, reliable, familiar type vibe for 30-50 year olds? Maybe you’re aiming as a blue chip, prestige and long term are the key for 45+ markets.

You need to know who you are talking to. The more you can define this the better you can suit their needs and capture the thoughts, feelings, moments and associations that will work for your audience. You can’t speak authentically to too large a market unless you generalize your message, which makes it less authentic. Know who you’re talking to and you can speak directly to them and their interests and values. Games may have traditionally tracked to a young audience, but the average gamer is in their 30s now, and there’s never been so many gamers over age 40. You really can target any demographic with games now, but you do need to know who you are talking to.

Mascots, Logos and Slogans

Whenever making a marketing game the need to promote the brand is a key consideration. This can be done in both bold and subtle manners. A lot of poorly made games just end up being a fairly meaningless game with the logo of the brand slapped everywhere. It’s a crass and dull approach that consumers are never impressed with. Slogans, vision statements, and key words can be a useful way to help guide the game development process, helping highlight key emotional goals and triggers to focus on. Slogans and catch phrases can easily be incorporated into games and used in relatively natural ways to offer encouragement, congratulations, or inspiration to players. Most importantly if you have a mascot, avatar, or other icon, especially if they are anthropomorphic (a human-like character) they can make excellent focal characters for games. This allows one of your key identifying symbols to be integrated deeply into the story and gameplay. By making a mascot playable the character can learn about their persona, helping to form it, they will associated with agency and importantly can project onto it, creating a personal connection to your deep brand identity.

Build an Experience

A promotional game is about providing an experience. It isn’t just a matter of slapping logos and slogans in front of people. Its about a deep experience, you’re providing an immersive moment, a story, a goal, a feeling, a look, a sound, that will resonate with the audience. Building a brand isn’t about transactional I-show-this-and-then-they-buy-that marketing, its about long term results an audience that wants to associate with the brand and will thereby support it over a lifetime, not a single impulse purchase. To build an experience think about the tone you’re trying to set and explore that vibe, how can you capture the feeling you want to convey through a game experience? This will help set the theme, genre and mechanics of the game design. Within that you can determine a story or narrative, consider what meaning and values you want to represent. Find ways to create attachment for the player, what are they doing that makes them love the game, and most importantly have FUN!

The Bottom Line

Creating positive fun experiences through games is an amazing opportunity for brands to deepen their presence and associations. A thoughtful game can convey more meaning, provide more attachment, achieve more eyeball time, and create more positive opinion than any other kind of advertising. Investing in games is worth it, you end up with a marketing asset that can last for a decade that helps build a cult of personality and experience for consumers to attach to. This permanent commercial, that you don’t have to pay to air, and can even be it’s own income generator (if done right), are an underappreciated form of marketing. This make it an even more lucrative area to invest in – you can still get in before the medium becomes over-saturated! If you want to tap into this amazing opportunity to build a depth to your brand and long term success, drop us a line! Massive Corporation is here to help, we understand gaming inside and out so you don’t have to. We’ll work with you to help build a deep and authentic experience for your market and help build your future success. We offer free consultations, so drop us a line today and lets get started!

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