How To Use Brand Positioning To Stand Out

by Justin Carroll

A guy sitting at a computer thinking about what to do.

How are your games different from all the other games out there? If you can’t answer that question you could benefit from brand positioning.

The video game industry is booming. It’s easier than ever to make a game, triple-A studios have now entered the mobile space and marketplaces are seeing unprecedented saturation.

Standing out is harder than ever.

What Is Brand Positioning?

One of the things I believe will be crucial to the success of game developers and publishers in the future will be their ability to position their brand in the marketplace, to differentiate themselves from every other game company in the world.

Brand positioning is how you and your games are different from all your competitors.

Infinity Ward is known for their wartime first person shooters (FPS), King is known for casual, colorful puzzle games and Blizzard Entertainment is primarily known for high fantasy, strategy games.

What types of games are you known for?

Instead of fighting to be every game to every player, I believe success lies in serving only a certain niche or player segment.

Here’s 3 easy steps to differentiate your company and its games from all the others out there:

1. Draft A Brand Positioning Statement

For a high view of this process we’re starting with the end in mind. The result of brand positioning is a statement, or a positioning statement.

And I think the best formula for writing a positioning statement was devised by Dan Janal. Dan calls his formula “The Fool Proof Positioning Statement” or FPPS, and it goes like this:

[Company] is a [category] that/who helps [primary audience] reach [primary benefits]. Unlike other [category, company (or product or person)], [primary difference].

Filling in the above statement is no easy task.

When I started Monastery filling in my positioning statement all but had me in tears. Aside from all the fears that come along with making such a bold business move, I thought I’d never be able to come up with the words. But I knew I had to try if I wanted any success.

Open a blank document and using this formula try drafting however many versions of a brand positioning statement you can possibly come up with.

Don’t freak out if you’re having trouble. It’s not you, everyone struggles with this exercise.

2. Evaluate Your Passion And Success

First, what type of games do you genuinely enjoy making? And second, what type of games have you experienced the most success with?

In the cross-section of those two questions lies a big part of your brand positioning. Where two types of game line up more often than not, that’s your differentiation.

Take King for example, here’s what their brand positioning statement might look like. I’ve no idea if this lines up with their actual positioning, but if I had to guess this would be close:

King is a mobile video game developer and publisher that helps casual game players reach high levels of leisure and achievement in short game sessions. Unlike other game developers and publishers, we specialize in free-to-play, very colorful, puzzle games.

However, this might not come so easy for everyone.

Again, don’t freak out.

It doesn’t mean you can’t position your company, it just means you’ll have to take a leap of faith. Meaning, you either have to move forward with no experience making your favorite type of games, or no success selling them.

That’s ok.

Even for companies like King, who might appear to have it all figured out, businesses evolve. And you might find that what you set out to do changes along the way.

Look at Nintendo and other triple-A game companies, there was probably a time when they never thought they’d launch games on non-proprietary hardware, yet here we are.

For those of you who struggle, take the leap of faith and worry about the rest later.

3. Reflect Brand Positioning In Marketing

Now that you’ve got at least a draft of your brand positioning statement you’ll want to begin infusing that language in everything you do, from your websites to social profiles to marketplace descriptions.

The goal of your brand positioning is to tell your audience who you are, what you do for them and why they should choose you over anyone else.

It’s marketing 101, you want to be known as the go-to game company for the type of games you specialize in. If you want intense, action-packed wartime first person shooters, you know you can rely on Infinity Ward to provide that.

What can an entire world of game players rely on you to provide for them?

Don’t Be Afraid

One of the most common objections to brand positioning is fear – fear that you won’t make as much money, fear you’ll become bored making only one type of game for the rest of your life and fear you’ve picked the wrong type of game to make or audience to serve.

Business consultant and positioning expert, Philip Morgan, collectively calls these things “The Fear”.

And they’re understandable. But ask yourself if the CEO of Riot Games, King or Infinity Ward fears these things when they go to bed at night.

Probably not.

Can you imagine if King tried to make the next great FPS?

I’m not saying they couldn’t. I’m just saying they’d be much better off with a new game that served their existing audience. Fans of the King brand anticipate the types of games they can expect from them.

Conclusion

There will always be those big, undifferentiated game developers and publishers who seem to be able to snag some semblance of success with any game they put out.

But you’re not them. And chances are you won’t be. You might be, but in the same way I’ll likely never be an astronaut, you probably won’t be.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about video games or other saturated markets, part of success is standing out by differentiating your businesses.

You don’t have to finish this process in a day. It took me weeks to finalize the first official version of my positioning statement. And I’m even one of those people that had to make a leap of faith.

Sure, I’d helped triple-A video games with online marketing projects before, but could I focus on helping all of them? I had no idea. As it turns out, I could. My customers appreciate that I’m spending all my time in this great industry, just like they are.

Take the challenge.

Open up a document and start drafting several versions of your positioning statement right now. And if you’re struggling or need help, please let me know.