Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Secret To Branding Your Board Games

Okay, let's keep this simple and to the point.

Branding is Positioning. Period.

Positioning is how consumers perceive and relate to your product or service.

BAYER aspirin is known as, The good for your heart medicine.
TYLENOL is known as, The strongest and safest pain medicine.
TIDE is known as, The most effective stain remover.

Each of these products is known for something they do specifically. Getting specific is the secret to strong branding because narrowing your market is far more effective than trying to be all things to all people. (Write that down.)

Book publishers have mastered the art of branding and the use of trade names with imprints. Imprints are segments of a publishing company that focus on a particular consumer demographic.

For example, Viking is an imprint of Penguin Group. Viking's brand focuses on consumer demographics for those who prefer good non-fiction such as biographies, historical, and contemporary stories.

Great! So how do you apply branding to board games?


If you plan on being a board game publisher, you must develop a mission statement of sorts for your games. For example, in my case (since I cannot speak for other publishers) when I started planning for Starship Games, I was focused on branding futuristic games or board games with space themes.

My reasoning behind this was that I wanted to put a positive spin on the future of Earth. I think most of us are cynical by nature and pessimistic by habit, so I wanted to turn that around and market games that focus on good and positive things as opposed to just war and destruction for the sake of sensationalizing events on a battlefield.

In fact my first space themed game was Warpd! This is a time-travel game with a positive twist. While this game is still in the development stages, I believe it will be more popular than Millennium, my second space or future-themed game.

While I love the Starship Brand (which happens to be the name of my graphic design business) I thought it was not specific enough and the word STAR reminds consumers of Star Wars, which is totally way too fictional and far-fetched for my taste so I changed it to Terra Nova Board Games.

What I like about Terra Nova, which literally means New Earth (Latin) is its inherent positive message. So there it is. You can't get more positive and more hopeful than a new Earth.

Of course, during the Apocalypse there is widespread destruction. That's the nature of the End of Days theme but the outcome, the end game (if you will) is the re-building of Earth into something new and better than before.

Let's keep in mind that the Apocalypse or Revelation (revealing a mystery) is historically Biblical. Obviously this is a heavy topic and should not be toyed with in my opinion. My goal then is to present these events as accurately as possible without going into detail. Why? because the details are too frightening and off-putting.

New logo (unfinished)

These are games, after all, so I must keep them historically relevant but relevant on the light and bright side.

Millennium is all about surviving a nuclear war. The details about nuclear war or how we got to that point are not relevant to this story. They are a part of the story (background information) that is left off screen because in this case, less is more.

Notice the tag line for this new logo. The dawn of a new age in gaming.

The purpose of your tag line is to sum up the mission of your brand. In this case, the tagline plays off the image, the dawn of, or something new in gaming.

If your branding does its job, it should convey to consumers that you have something different and something new to add to the gaming industry. Otherwise why would consumers bother looking into your games if they don't offer something they have not seen before.

So branding with the name Terra Nova, now serves a more specific purpose. It's all about a New Earth. That's the end game and Millennium is a good place, a good name to start with because we are not far from the start of the new Millennium (2000). Seventeen years into the 21st Century.

As you can see, your branding must encompass a wide spectrum of ideas but it must focus on a small segment of the population so it is distinctive enough to stand out, seem meaningful, and get noticed for the right reasons.

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I would love to write about your branding experiences here so if you have any questions about branding your games or other products, send me an email and I'll write a post about your branding idea and how to fine tune it for maximum effect.


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