It was a Saturday morning when I made the discovery that a game I used to play as a kid, got a brand new re-make.
Thanks to digital magic, I spent the whole weekend watching every single minute of the gameplay online. It was amazing! Everybody else seemed to love it too.
Usually, long-time fans don’t like big changes. The rebranding of something that people already love can often be tricky. So what is it about the game that made it all work? What should companies think about when they decide to change their branding strategy?
I am a huge game lover, and it’s my gaming enthusiasm that has driven me to write this post. I know that you might not be one, so I will try and keep a balance between game vs. marketing.
The game sold over 3 million copies in the first week, and it is going on 4+ million copies right now, just a month later. That means that there is a lot to learn from it, so let’s start at the beginning.
1. Timing is key when it comes to rebranding
The original game was released in 1998, that is some good 20 years ago. Between the time of the original and the new remake, there are significant improvements in technology, and the gameplay possibilities can’t even compare.
A lot of companies re-make movies, games, and products just because they think it will increase their profits.
If fans still love the old one, and it doesn’t feel outdated yet, why would they want a new version? There needs to be room for them to outlive the first one, to bring them on board with the new one.
2. The new version needs to stay true to it’s original
The game was announced sometime last year, to get the hype train going. Once it became available, the fans were eager to start playing, and of course, the game didn’t disappoint.
It turns out that the story stayed true to the original game, and people are loving it. They get to play a story they already like, infused with super cool graphics.
The developers didn’t go crazy out of line. The rebrand made sense to the old fans, and it got their support in return.
When companies are rebranding a product or their brand identity, they need to pay careful attention to this. Consumers already have things that they love about the product, so they need to make sure not to stray too far from the original idea.
3. The rebranding should improve the quality
As it made sense to the old fans, it also brought new fans in with the high value and quality of the content.
For those people who were too unborn in 1998, or didn’t even know about the game until now, this provided a chance to play an amazing story.
For the new version of the product to work, there needs to be an improvement of quality from the previous versions. Don’t make the mistake of rebranding a product just for the sake of it.
If the product lacks in quality or the value it provides, there is no style change that will fix the issue. Companies need to look deeper into the purpose of the change.
4. The rebranded product needs a bonus stack
Not only was the game true to its spirit, but there are also new additions to complement the story now. This brings us to the fourth lesson.
New extra modes, new rewards, free downloadable content and other bonuses that were never there before are now available for fans to enjoy.
They don’t change the original story, instead, they add onto it. This is something that might push people who are not sure that they want to replay the game, rethink their decision.
5. The rebranding is done with the fans needs first
All of this proved that the company brought their A game when they worked on this project and that they obviously care about the fans and the story of the game.
People can feel that the main reason for the new release is not a money grabbing scheme. The game was not created just so the company can use the loyal fan base for profits. Which is not uncommon in the gaming market these days.
Companies that care about the connection to their audience, and it is in tune with their needs, will succeed with keeping their customers for a long time.
If consumers already have the old version of a product, and they are not inspired enough to upgrade, the bonus stack offer might be the nudge that they need towards changing their mind.
Sometimes we don’t have to search far for marketing lessons. Just take a look at a product that you love, and ask yourself — Why?