What are the first things that come to mind when you hear eFootball 2022 or Cyberpunk 2077?
That’s what Brand is; the convergence of factors such as sentiment and quality that can make or break a product. Brand sits in a unique position, arguably more so than any other positions within a traditional company. It usually sits within Marketing and Community because Brand, at its core, is the convergence of people and product. It’s because of this wide remit of responsibilities that means Brand can sometimes be branded (see what I did there) as ‘fluffy’; a bit of a luxury...
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
What’s Brand within games publishing?
To be perfectly honest: Brand in games publishing is not much different from Brand in any other industry.
It sits between player and game to build and grow positive sentiment, which is usually conveyed through a combination of marketing, community and PR activities, both paid and organic.
Brand teams can vary depending on the size of the team and the resources available. Small publishers may not have Brand specialists, but if they do, they would usually be few in numbers and possibly sit within other departments, such as Marketing or Community. On the opposite end of the scale, medium to large publishers will likely have a dedicated Brand team, as we do here at Square Enix London Mobile. We have a Brand Director and two Brand Managers: one assigned to Tomb Raider Reloaded, our upcoming Tomb Raider title, and one assigned to our untitled Avatar: The Last Airbender project.
As Brand Manager on Tomb Raider Reloaded, I ensure that game-related and growth decisions align with the core values of the Tomb Raider IP as it relates to the two timelines of the ‘Classic Lara Croft’ eras: The Original and Legend timelines (jump into the Wiki’s if you’re curious about what those are!)
Lara is a globetrotting, badass treasure hunter in a world full of traps and enemies all wanting to thwart her, and as such, I need to work with different teams, including Art and Product, to help define the identity and tone of our game to ensure it feels quintessentially Tomb Raider-y. This means I’m writing Brand guides and other documentation to steer enemies, narrative facets, treasures and other key elements, or syncing with different teams to ensure we stay on track with these game-related details.
Away from the game itself, Brand is heavily involved in Marketing, UA, and Community-centric activities to ensure we’re putting our best foot forward to bring as many players into the game as possible. On one day this can be supporting UA with store copy and UA assets, or working with Community to ensure we have a compelling roadmap of social content in place.
How small and large publishers can benefit from Brand teams
It’s strange to think that as recently as 10 years ago, Brand roles were few and far between (if they existed at all!)
Small publishers can take immense satisfaction in building a Brand from scratch, which could include shaping a new IP, or studio-specific branding to help grow and shape the publisher or partner developer(s).
Big studios with existing IPs can look at pivoting the brand in new and unique directions to achieve growth. Here at Square Enix London Mobile, we’re not only reimagining Classic Lara, but we’re doing so in the context of a casual mobile game. So, we are looking to work with non-gaming influencers in the lifestyle space to create compelling campaigns on TikTok and Instagram ahead of the games worldwide launch later this year. As our game flows across different stakeholders, from ourselves to influencer partners for instance, it’s down to brand to ensure that the core values set out at the start of the project remain intact, which is as difficult as it sounds!
Paths to Brand and possible pivots from Brand
Academically, there’s no heavy emphasis to study any one degree or course to help prepare for a position in Brand, but studying in Marketing or similar fields will certainly help get you through the door.
If you’re already in the world of work (in the games industry or otherwise), traditional routes into Brand include Marketing or player-centric positions, such as Player Experience, Community or PR roles. Equally, a pivotal shift can be made from Brand into those positions as well.
The key takeaway is that Brand tends to play a bigger role in games publishing than you might expect, providing immense long-term value to any publisher that aims to leave a mark in the industry with the IP they are building or growing.