You can not be everything to everyone. We are all quite 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 distinct feelings for both friends. That's their brand.
Brands are like people. They take on personality traits and we like those hits or we do not.
This means you are a brand. You evoke certain feelings when people think of you. The entire range 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 acquaints. 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 do not 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 does not 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 did not 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 not achieve this without a brand.
thatgamecompany, the makers of the popular flOw, has a distinct brand. Their games are really unlike any others in the industry. Their games will not 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?
Do not try to hide your identity. It is a fools errand to pretent being someone else. Take the example of Superman and Clark Kent in their quest for Lois Lane's affection.
Clark Kent hides his identity. He pretends to be someone else. He is not a run-of-the-mill small town boy looking to make it in the big city. Clark fails miserably to court Lois. On the other hand, Superman knows who he is. He does not hide his otherworldly origin or his super powers. He saves people from danger because he believes he should. It's not an act, it's who he is. Superman wins.
Clark Kent and Superman are exactly the same person. One is true to himself and the other is not. A brand that attracts people is like Superman.
A small game company with a few employees should not be accused of being small. That is who you are. Do not pretend to be bigger. You can not build a brand on a foundation of lies.
A large game company should not pretend to be an indie shop. It is not you. People will see right through it. No one likes a liar. No one wants to do business with a liar.
The goal of a brand is not to be a fit to everyone. Not a single successful brand does that. Successful brands are like successful people. They know who they are and believe in their work. People are attracted to them because they are real. Not everyone will like them but, those who do will make a real connection. That's a fan for life. Lifetime profitability is the lifeblood of long term success.
Every point of contact with customers need to be congruent with your brand. The only way to do that is to be able to communicate who you are to your employees. Your brand starts with your employees. You can not communicate that you are a friendly, loving, smile-flashing company and have employees who are rude to customers.
The people responsible for direct interaction with customers should exemplify your brand. If your brand is fun, social, helpful, and out-going then you need people who have those qualities. Best Buy's Geek Squad needs technology and gadget lovers working for them or there will be a brand disconnect.
The quickest way to communicate your brand to employees and customers is with a tagline.
A good tagline is essential. Potential customers should know what you do and who you are in a blink of an eye. Your tagline needs to tell them everything they need to know in a few words. A tagline is like a signature, it should beÂ distinctive. Once you come up with a good tagline, use it on everything. There is no point in having a tagline if you are not going to use it.
Take the time and effort to come up with a great tagline. It may seem useless to put so much effort on a few words but, you need those magical words that eloquently consolidates everything you are. It'll help keep everyone in the company focused and on the same page. That is priceless .
Everything about your company needs to be congruent with your brand: company logo, mission, employee attributions, website, advertising, story, etc. All of it. Every inch of your company needs to reflect your brand.
Building a brand takes time and effort. Two people can not become great friends in one sitting. It takes a series of meetings, activities, conversations, cups of coffee, pints of beer, etc. Every contact builds the relationship. Every contact provides more information about each other. Showing up as a different person at each contact will never create a strong relationship. Building a brand is like building a friendship.
Brands are like people.