Brand experts Mondo Studio have worked with leading companies, such as Purina, Honda and Kellogg’s, on casual game projects.
Mondo’s executive creative director Phill Simon has some professional advice for companies who want to make successful branded games.
He says, it’s about doing the hard work before you begin development:
THINGS TO DO WHEN ASSESSING A BRAND INTEGRATED GAME PROJECT
“The first things to have in mind when developing brand integrated games are who are the stakeholders, and how will your game be authentic to the brand/brand mission. Our clients can be from the brand, agency, or portal, and sometimes all three. Often they can have subtly different agendas, needs and goals. To be successful you have to address and meet all of their needs. As for the brand itself, without authentic brand understanding your title is likely to just feel like a brand name slapped onto an otherwise unrelated game.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE MOVING ON TO GAME DEVELOPMENT
“Establish what the purpose of the specific game is before moving forward on a project. Often there’s not enough thought upstream on a project and it then becomes easy to go off track from what the client needs. Have answers to basic questions: Is this an awareness campaign? Are there specific calls to action (sign up, click through, etc)? What is the brand hoping to do with the game? It’s almost always about engagement, but at the end of that experience there is an opportunity to carry on a further dialogue with the player/consumer. You need to know what that should be.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
“Next, set up a good media plan early. Where is the game going to live? Sure, online or mobile, but where? Facebook? Casual gaming sites? On a portal like MindJolt, or Yahoo? Is it going to be in an app store? Each platform has challenges and opportunities both in development and in the marketing of the game. Set up a plan you can map to and address things like PR, broadcast, paid media online. There is cross over between platforms but you can’t just assume this, or that you’ll just ‘re-skin’ a game. In addition to the development challenges, each platform often has different user demographics and psychographics. Do your homework ahead and your opportunity for success doubles.
HAVE A CLEAR GOAL FOR MEASURING SUCCESS
“The next thing you have to know before you get to the development stage is how are you, and the brand, going to measure success? Clients want clearly articulated goals, but don’t always know what to ask for. Your success will be measured in one way or another so lead that conversation. Whether it’s number of plays, time spent playing, 100,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, or getting 10,000 folks to sign-up for an email program, figure it out early and work toward that goal.
“In a recent project with Purina our goal was positive brand impact. Even though that’s harder to measure than minutes played, there is usually a way. In the Purina case, Dynamic Logic conducted post-game surveys to measure the game’s positive brand impact. It’s also important to be exacting in your measurement. Rather than measure 100 things all with variables, pick a few things and be specific.
“Lastly, and this speaks to measurement but also to the development process overall, don’t manage expectations, set expectations, and set them early on. If you’re disciplined this will help you aspire to great work and more often than not you’ll beat your client’s own goals.”