For almost a year, a small team of enthusiastic people at Koukoi Games have been creating an AAA –rated mobile game in the northern parts of Finland. Now we are on the verge of the global launch of our first game Crashing Season. Before you get your hands on Crashing Season, we would like share you our story through our brand building process we just finished.
The mobile game market is one of the most competitive markets in the world. Current figures tell us that around 500 new games are released into the App Store and 250 into Google Play every single day. It makes almost 300 000 games per year and the number is probably growing till it hits the roof. As you can imagine there is a lot of noise when all games are talking at the same time.
In order to succeed, we believe the games we make need two things for starters: to be great to play and to find a special place in the hearts of gamers. To make this happen it is a tough job for every studio – be it small or big.
When you are small player in the market, you usually have to shout louder and clearer to get your message heard. We believe that when the message is clear, it’s easier to get through. While it is the coders’, the game developers’ and the graphic designers’ job to create games with a high production value and memorable gaming experience at Koukoi, in the marketing team we concentrate on getting recognition for the entire team’s work and give everyone a chance to see it – and at some point, play it. That’s why we have spent countless of hours answering the question: who are we, what we are doing, and why we are here?
For starters, let’s ask the following question: What is a brand?
Haddaway asks on his hit song: What is love? We doubt that you will find one right answer for it – neither you will find one for the question: “What is a brand?”.
The most common mistake is to think that a brand is just a company logo on the left corner of the company website. According to marketing scholar Jason Miletsky, a brand is “The sum of all users’ experiences with a particular product or service, building both reputation and future expectations.” We believe that the brand is the feeling or a thought what a person gets when he interacts with the company. Let’s ask this: How do you feel when you play one of your favourite games? Yeah.
Moving to pumping up our brand
Our brand has been built up for almost a year now. It’s been a long process while we have been answering questions like “who are we?” and “what do we want to offer for mobile gamers?” – Plenty of time was used to build up our identity. Luckily, we’ve had a pleasure to work with one of our beloved partners, a branding agency called Brandstein, located here in Oulu, Finland. With their help we got an extra pair of eyes to take a look into our business and succeed on building a visual identity for the company – for instance, they have done a great job with our websites.
With them, it all started in a very interesting way: at first meeting, we just sat down and they sketched a model of our company’s house and its property in the world on a blank paper. You can see the polished version of the house and its property below.
In this sketch (a model for building up a start-up company’s brand), in order to start building a brand, everything starts with an Idea of a Product (or service). These two stones are used to build a foundation for everything else in the start-up company’s business. Good ideas don’t weigh anything alone, but with good execution and foundation they are worth a fortune. For example, at Koukoi we spent lots of hours for prototyping different ideas until we came up with Crashing Season. It took 6 attempts to make a good prototype from different ideas before we were happy with one, and decided to develop it further. As the game industry is very competitive one, it’s important to use all the time you have for making sure you reduce at least some of the risks first through prototyping before going forward with a mad luster in your eyes.
For our business’ house, three pillars are used to create the base for our identity. To build up a fortress in time, the house’s pillars must be constructed from building blocks: Rational, Values and Emotional. The Rational pillar explains to us what we do, why we are doing this and how we must do this – for building up a sustainable business, you have to always be doing things in a rational way on some level. The Values pillar determines what is important to us and what we value in business and our company’s culture, and the Emotional pillar tells more about our dreams and what we want to achieve as a company and individuals working under same roof. At Koukoi we see that our purpose is to create games with inimitable experiences and surpass the increasing needs of ever more demanding players – in a rational way, we believe that we can stand out from the crowd with polished releases and this is what separates us from the other players in the mobile game market. Also, our dream has always been to create a dream game company together with talented and passionate people that value openness, freedom and flexibility in their work – with right people in your team sharing the same pillars you can accomplish anything you want.
When you’ve built the house’s foundations with strong pillars, you can start building its roof consisting of following building blocks: Slogan and Brand – both will be visible for outside world. From these two blocks, the purpose of a slogan is to sum up the company in one sentence that tells it all. Koukoi’s slogan, which you’ll start seeing more often soon, “Aim On Game” explains that we are here to develop outstanding products for gamers and we as a company will stand strong our feet on the ground while our heads are on the clouds. The brand part constructs the last piece of roof on the top of the building. It isn’t anything when taken out of context. As we have gone through the building blocks of our house, we have gone through building our brand – at the same time we’ve succeeded on building up a visual identity from everything else that shows the world what Koukoi Games is. As we determine who we are to ourselves, we hope it results our customers getting the same sense of us.
On top of the house is a shining sun. This is our Vision. For us, it leads all of our doings – in the form of a path it is what we want to aim at and go towards to. The vision is the reason behind why we do things like we do, and what we want to accomplish one day together as team.
Don’t build an empty house
It’s important to know that you can’t do anything with an empty house. It’s important to remember that a house needs people who take care of it and live in it. You must remember to have a team consisting of employees. The key for building up a dream team is to share the same pillars of your house with them.
Koukoi’s team started working together in early 2015. At first we were a small group of enthusiastic people who had one common factor: a love towards playing games. When things started moving forward, one of the core ideas behind Koukoi’s team was to start building a dream game company, and start making awesome games together. From those days, we’ve gone a long way ahead – even we’re still a young company. In the process, we’ve learned that the most important thing for us (and should be for others as well) has been always to build up an excellent team that motivates each other’s and which can accomplish great things together – the team creates the products from ideas and builds the house. It’s been great to see how our team has grown over a year, and how our members have advanced their skills to a whole new level. We believe that us all sharing the same dream, our “house’s” pillars and strong common vision is what makes us to go that extra mile needed to break into the mobile game market.
Go and take your place in the market!
As you saw above, our home stands on the two properties. The inner one is a property where our company stands strong, and from where we also found our current investors, partners and other stakeholders. The outer one is of course the place for our customers to jump onto. The people standing on these properties creates the ground for us that we can use to build up the foundation for a successful business – combined together with our constructed “house” consisting of the right people. For us to succeed in time, all people standing on these two properties have to believe in values, be interested in and share a few of same core things that we do. For example, during our first fundraising round we reached hundreds of individual investors, and after the first round we continued further with only 25 investors who believed in the same things that we do as a team. Not everyone agrees on same things you or your team does, but the ones who do will help you to accomplish great things. Same goes for your customers; the ones who find you and your products will help you achieve great things when taken care of in the right manner. And that’s all you need to reach your vision and dream – with higher potential.
The other houses seen in the sketch can be built up in the same way as the house of Koukoi – they can be built for products with their own brand identities following after your main brand and core values. For example, on the left (in the image) you can find the house we’ve built for Crashing Season. For our company and business, the other houses represent our current and upcoming product IPs.
To sum it up…
…So, when you are building up your brand, we hope that this post will help you in the process of figuring out the way you should build up your own house for your brand that in turn helps you to build up more houses for your products and achieve great things.
In the process, make sure to focus on following things:
- Make sure you have right and similar-minded people in your team
- Prototype ideas and continue only with the best ones for your products
- Emphasize rational thinking, have strong values and dream big – use that to build your company
- If possible, get an extra pair of eyes to help you out in the process
- …and make everyone know about you and your business, and get them involved!
- Take your time! For Koukoi, building our brand took a year, so yours will be formed too in time.
To find out more how we are finalizing Crashing Season and our business in general, stay tuned for more updates and remember to play the game when it comes out for iOS and Android devices globally! The game is currently available for Android devices only in CAN & AU.