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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 143 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Building Brand  (Read 1613 times)

Posts: 24

« on: September 30, 2005, 01:32:36 PM »


I would like to open this thread to ask people to share their thoughts, experiences and ideas for advertising campaigns aimed at building a 'brand'.

I would like to ask some of the more experienced publishers to help the rest of us learn more about building our brands.

Some things that I have learned from other discussions:

1. Message Consistency. This is very familiar from politics (we call it "message composition", but basically in politics that means a simple, short message repeated over and over again... it bleeds into the consciousness that way). With things like banner ads, is color consistency an important part of that? Do you include your logo on all your banners?

2. Product Tie-in: We have three product lines that have fairly strong followings (Kevin and Kell from the popular comic strip, Eldoria from the AD&D modules set in the same world, and the upcoming Star Empires). I assume it is a good idea to have some advertising that ties these products to the company. With other ads that are not for these products, would you suggest focussing on company ads (ads that are about the company, give an overview of what kinds of games the company does, and links to the company website rather than a particular product), or is it best to focus these other ads on smaller sales products (to get both the company and those smaller selling products some exposure)? In other words: How important/valuable is it to have a large number of ads that are "company specific" (focus on the company as a whole) instead of "product specific" (focus on an individual product, and then just tie in the company)?

3. Saturation. How good of an idea is it to buy as many advertisements on all the major sites as possible, and do the best job you can at saturating the market with your message (I know that no small publisher is going to actually obtain full market saturation, but is there a point where a wariness sets in of seeing the same message over and over again... thus causing the viewer to tune it out)?

4. How often do you change banners? I know that running the exact same banner constantly for a year is going to yield a rather steep diminishing return as the year goes on. Do you have a set time that you leave it up, or is it more based upon when you notice a decrease in hits?

5. Related to number 4, how many banners do you generally put into rotation at any one time?

6. Colors: Is there a color (or colors) that you avoid? I can understand this based upon things like the common background color of black on some gaming sites... it would possibly make black banners less noticeable.

7. Finally, what experiences have people had from banner ad purchases from various sites?

I am sure others will have more questions. If anyone with comments on any or all of these questions could respond, that would be very appreciated.

I also ask that we try to avoid sidetracking this discussion, as this could serve as a huge help to small publishers and the industry as a whole.

Director of Games,
ComStar Media, LLC

Josh Roby

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite

« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2005, 02:12:00 PM »

First off, are you asking about building a brand, or are you asking about banner ads?  I'd hazard to guess that banner ads are not the best way to go for building a brand.  Banner ads can get you some traffic on your website, but even then their effectiveness is not very high.

This is also a difficult market to get brand-recognition in.  Game titles are far more recognized than the companies that make them.  White Wolf is a prominent exception, but it's important to remember that it started off as White Wolf magazine.  The title was the brand.  They built from there.  But really, even look at TSR -- D&D had leagues more recognition than TSR ever did, and still has more than Wizards of the Coast does.  Whether D&D or Hasbro is the heavier-weight name is a good question.

Also consider that the primary motive for creating brand-recognition is to instill brand-loyalty, which doesn't really work much in the games market.  Even White Wolf secured its cross-line sales by creating tenuous links between their different games.  Do you want brand recognition so that people who have bought Kevin&Kell will buy Star Empires?  If so, I think you're making some assumptions about how your customers think about their games and the people who make them -- in my experience gamers don't ascribe competence or quality to game brands, nor do gamers really look for quality, per se, when making their purchasing decisions.  They look for products that match their interests.  (Tangentially, this is why so many one-product indie game designers can make a game that actually gives them a monetary return -- you don't need a reputation, just a good product.)

I'm not trying to shoot you down, but I am curious what you're after.  Why do you want brand recognition?  Why do you think spending money on creating a brand identity will be a better investment than spending money on product recognition?

Justin D. Jacobson

Posts: 186

« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2005, 10:15:57 AM »

Agree to a large extent. Given the limited resources we all have, you need to focus in on exactly what "brand" it is you're trying to get recognition for. Linking three distinct game lines into your company is a much taller task. More likely, you need to create strong brand recognition for each game line independently. For my own part, I went so far as to create a separate website for my Dawning Star line.

Banner ads certainly have a place in the program. On the other hand, I don't think there are any magic answers. I don't think any colors are great to use or verboten, but you should be consistent. We use a bluish-green for all of our DS stuff. Rotating banner ads is a good idea. I wouldn't look to them as a way to increase sales or event traffic. They're not a particularly efficient way of achieving either. Rather, they're best at increasing the visiblity of your product. Repetition of brand identity is key in gaining awareness in the market.

Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!

Posts: 582

« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2005, 08:35:46 AM »

There is a Brand Building thread on RPGnow. The thread started with a question on how to build a brand. My reply was meant to show how to do it as well as to say how to do it.


Have you heard of Matrix Games? Anymore, I find people have. Type Matrix Game, Hamster Press or Chris Engle into a search engine and my web page pops up either on top or on the first page. Search for Sherlock Holmes games and I'm there to. My stuff shows up by the third page on a search for Cthulhu games.

Has that translated into a brand - not yet but I will keep working on it.

When building a brand you have to ask yourself what your building. Say you're a RPG publisher (Mongoose for instance) they have a recognizable name that people associate with D20 books and other stuff. Their products are well made and deliver a solid game. I don't work for them but their brand building has delevered that message to me. So brand is a reputation but also a message. They are not THE RPG company - WoTC has that locked - a brand they bought from TSR. But Mongoose has build a reputation of their own.

Matrix Games have had a much harder time because, when I started writing about them in 1988, there was NOTHING like them. Heaven help the person who truly is "original". No one knows what to do with you. The number of blank stares I've gotten over the years is amazing but I felt the project was worthy of dedicating years (almost decades) to so I plod along.

If you have no money for marketing (as was my case until the last year or so) then you have to go the no cost route. My solution was to write many many articles for game magazines. I had a Matrix Game article in Shadis 6, as well as in a dozen or so wargame newsletters. I put out a newsletter from 89 to 94 (Experimental Game Group newsletter is now available on line at Magweb http://www.magweb.com/ ). Of course I ran games at Conventions. Matrix Games have appeared at every Gen Con since 1991. I published a small press game in 1992 which sold a 100 copies in three years. I did a commercial game release in 1998 which flopped and since then have worked on improving the quality of my products and building up a backlog of games that I can release over the next few years.

I talk to people all the time. Now this is happening on line (like I'm doing right now - Brand name brand name brand name Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games - note the capital letters and the hammered message) Branding is a repeated message delivered consistently over the space of years.

All that being said - have you heard of Matrix Games...? There are still a lot of blank stares out there...But I'll not give up.

For a brand to appear it has to have something solid that people associate the name with. A well made - interesting product that passes the "smell test" of consumers is not easy to make but has to be made for a brand to happen. If you don't have that yet then maybe the timing is not right to build the brand. A bad reputation is just as powerful as a good one.

If you do not have a solid product then maybe it is best to write articles, network with people on forums and at cons, learn business skills (I have to say learning accounting has helped me a lot), and run your game at cons.

The Forge has created a brand by a repeated message. You may not understand or appreciate "GNS" discussions but I bet you've heard of them. They had the advantage of starting this branding campaign after the advent of the internet. Matrix Games suffered by emerging before this communications revolution. Also the cost of getting a product out is much cheaper with PDFs. Personally this format does not pass the smell test for me but it is getting better all the time. So you can do this. It will time time but you can do this.

So that's my two cents. Have a message about something that is solid and keep on talking about it until someone asks you why you're saying the obvious.

Chris Engle
HAMSTER PRESS = ENGLE MATRIX GAMES!!! brand name brand name brand name

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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