Good branding is important for every industry, but the right branding can truly make companies in the gaming industry. People who love video games follow the industry closely and can identify their favorite brands in an instant.
In fact, the video gaming industry is an interesting one because much of the branding that takes place has two layers. First, there’s the brand of the company that makes and releases video games. And second – but just as important – is the brand of the game itself.
That means that companies in the gaming industry have to take branding and marketing very seriously.
Branding Considerations for the Gaming Industry
Let’s start by talking about the elements of branding gaming companies and games. This is an industry that encompasses video game developers as well as gaming establishments like arcades. Effective branding requires making an appeal to the people who are most likely to buy or play games.
Why You Need a Strong Brand
One reason that branding looms large for the gaming industry is that gamers often identify strongly with the games they play. A person who spends hours playing a single shooter game like Halo is most likely projecting himself into the game to some extent.
What does that mean? For one thing, it means that the game’s brand is something that players have to feel good about. They want to be able to identify with the brands of the games they play. A brand that is weak, forgettable, or doesn’t do a good job of representing a game is likely to fail the important test of player identification.
The issue of identification is equally as important when it comes to game developers. While some gamers own more than one gaming platform, many are restricted to playing games on the one platform they own.
In other words, Wii players probably identify strongly with the Wii brand, and so on. If you want to stand out in a competitive industry, having a strong brand is a must.
Elements of Branding
What are the elements that go into a strong gaming brand? Let’s take a look.
The logo design you choose is hugely important. It has to be memorable, striking, and representative of what you do. In the gaming industry, red is commonly used because it’s a color that conveys excitement and adrenaline. Other bright colors often join in and combine with strong graphic images that represent games.
This logo we designed for a video game is a good example. The concept behind the game is that information about the players’ lives is used within the game for a very personal gaming experience.
This design captures the essence of the game by turning a skull into a mouse and embedding the image of a game control into the skull. It tells potential players a lot about the game.
Slogans and Tag Lines
The next element of branding to consider is your slogan and tag line. You might have a striking logo but only the biggest companies have logos that are recognizable without a name and some kind of tag line. Nike is a good example.
What makes a good tagline? It should be short, memorable, and tie directly into the game it represents. One that we like comes from the game Dante’s Inferno. The tagline is perfect for the game: Sin to win.
It works because the word “sin” is a clear reference to Dante and his vision of hell. The rhyme with “win” is just about perfect for a video game. It’s very short, extremely memorable, and intriguing as well. That’s the standard you should try to match.
One thing you need to do if you want to create a memorable gaming brand is create a customer persona. The people who play your video games are your target audience, but what do you know about them?
Creating a customer persona requires looking at your customers’ demographics, including things like their average age, gender, income level, and marital status. There will inevitably be some outliers, but the majority of your customers will fall into certain categories.
The second thing you need to consider is something called psychographics. These are personal characteristics and preferences that fall outside of easily quantifiable information such as a person’s age. They include hobbies, likes and dislikes, and even pop culture preferences.
The combination of demographic and psychographic information will allow you to get a clear picture of your target audience, which you can then use in your marketing.
Brand Voice and Personality
The final element of branding is your brand’s voice and personality. Research shows that people attribute human characteristics and personality traits to their favorite brands. The voice you use when you blog or post on social media must reflect those characteristics.
If you are promoting a game that’s geared heavily toward young men, then your voice should be like theirs. Remember, you want them to identify with your brand and your game. Customers want to hear their thoughts and interests reflected back at them.
Marketing Strategy and Ideas to Grow Your Brand
Now that you have a basic understanding of branding – and some ideas about how to create a strong brand – let’s talk about your marketing strategy and how you can increase your brand recognition.
Tips for Writing a Marketing Plan
The first thing you should do before you do any marketing is to write a marketing plan. Your marketing plan is the road map you will use to direct your marketing activity. It helps identify what you want to do and how you plan to do it. It breaks down into three basic parts:
1) Your marketing goals state what you hope to accomplish with your marketing activities. For example, you might want to sell a certain number of games, get people to sign up for your mailing list, or simply increase brand awareness.
2) Your marketing strategy is a big picture marketing plan. You might decide that you want to use video marketing to get people to buy your game, for example.
3) Finally, marketing tactics are the specific actions you plan to take to carry out your marketing strategy and achieve your marketing goals. Continuing the above idea, you might make a video of a group of friends playing your game and wrap it into a story about their friendship to sell the social aspects of the game.
In other words, you want to start with a broad statement about what you want to achieve, and then winnow it down until you have a clearly defined set of actions – as well as a budget and timeline – to help you achieve it.
How to Choose the Best Social Media Sites to Use
Social media marketing is really a must for companies in the gaming industry. The key to doing it well is to pick the best social media sites to target. Sites like Pinterest and Snapchat have very different demographics so it’s important to understand the social media landscape.
This is where your customer persona will come in handy. If you know that the majority of your customers are teenage boys, then you might want to focus your marketing efforts on Snapchat. Their demographics skew very young. Instagram might be another good choice.
Facebook is probably a good place to start no matter what kind of game you’re marketing. It has by far the highest number of monthly users. Facebook users tend to be very engaged as well.
From there, use your demographics and other customer information to choose two or three sites to use. Leave the others alone unless you have a compelling reason to be there.
Connecting with Gamers Using Content Marketing
Finally, it’s time to come up with some ideas that will help you connect with gamers. Content marketing is one of the best ways to connect with customers because it gives you the opportunity to engage them using stories and visuals.
1) You can start marketing a new game long before it’s launched. For example, you might share early concept art with your social media followers. Another option might be to shoot a behind-the-scenes video with your developers.
2) Provide your followers with insider tips about your games. Things like game play shortcuts and Easter eggs can make your followers feel that they have a personal connection to your brand.
3) Video marketing is a very effective way of showing off your games and giving your followers a peek at what it’s like to play.
4) Encourage your followers to share ideas, stories, and other information in the comments, and to share your content with their friends.
These are just a few ideas. The marketing you do should be a direct reflection of the fans you hope to attract.
The key to marketing a gaming company effectively is to understand your target audience. Once you do that, you’ll be able to develop a brand voice and personality that speak directly to them. As long as you are consistent and take the time to create content that engages them, your brand will help you sell games and build loyalty among your customers.