How To Build A Brand Handbook (Brandbook)

The tweet that started it all. Thanks Meg!

Y’all this is a long one. Strap yourself in.

“I wish someone would write out a guide on how to pitch and how to write an email to press or influencers to actually get attention…”

The problem is, every single game requires a different approach. A different tone, a different strategy, a different look, feel, level of effort, level of engagement.

Name: Your Unique Game Identifier

Mmf. Pretty.

The Crucial Things

  • Check to see if another studio has the name, or similar
  • Check to see if another product has the name, or similar
  • Check to see what comes up when you google the name you’ve chosen
  • Check domain name options — you don’t want to pick a great name then find out your name is taken, or reads poorly as a URL. Consider alternative potential options, if you’ve got the perfect name but the website is taken — maybe you can be enterholovista.com instead of holovista.com, for example!
  • Assume that your ideal name is taken — and make sure that adding ‘games’ or ‘studios’ or whatever your end to it will be is enough to help it stand out.
  • Check social media options like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram — can you get the same handle across every platform? Plan for scale. If you’re somehow suddenly a global phenomenon, you don’t want to cough up 10K to someone on the other side of the world for a username on a platform down the track. Find them, reserve them, hold tight.

The Less Obvious

  • Consider your business structure before you pick a studio name, and your games structure before a game name. For example, in Australia, if your business is a company there are different registration requirements than if you’re a sole trader or partnership. This is less relevant for your game, but if your game is going to be ideally one of a series, how does that fit long term? You might need to do triple the do-diligence.
  • Don’t pick a simple word — calling your business “Dog Interactive” seems cute until you realise that your audience is getting results for interactive dog toys.
  • Say it out loud — can it be mistaken for something else really easily? Google the misspellings. See what comes up.
  • Consider cultural connotations of specific words. For example, gift means ‘poison’ in German. Double, triple, quadruple check.

Tagline:

When do I use it?

The Elevator Pitch:

Here’s an elevator pitch we could have gone with, and why it doesn’t work.

  • I have no idea what feeling this game will give me — awe, horror, excitement, frustration, curiosity. Are these good secrets? Bad secrets? Who am I? What position am I, the player in? Where do I fit in relation to the story?
  • Similarly — lush environment — what kind of environment? Am I outside amongst the trees? Inside with crystal chandeliers? I have no context to give me scope as a player in terms of the world I’m traversing, how modern it might be, whether it’s a dungeon or a city.
  • I could put almost a billion other games in that spot and it would be a pitch for them. The Witness. Myst. Firewatch. What Remains of Edith Finch. All games that have similarities, to some degree, with ours — but are not the same. You don’t want someone to be able to replace your games name with another game and for the pitch to still make sense. Victoria Tran gave a great talk about this some time ago, here if you want to see this exercise in practice.
I figured some images might help break up this mountain of text, and HoloVista is really pretty, so.
  • You are exploring a space that feels ‘other’, of which you’ll capture in photographs. This hints at both feeling (dreamlike) and gameplay (photograph).
  • You’ll confront personal secrets of some kind, with ‘confront’ giving weight to these moments. It’s not ‘fight’ or ‘defeat’, but confront. It hints at conflict, but of an emotional nature, not physical.
  • You’ll ‘confess’ — giving a personal or negative connotation to them — them online, presenting a potential “online” element to the game. We worried about this, in that would people assume there was a direct social media built in to the game, but by adding ‘as Carmen’, we remove the user personally from this.
  • You’re playing a role — someone named Carmen who is likely new to their career and stepping into their world.
  • You are a junior architect, therefore probably not responsible for the mansions creation, with the ‘new hire’ line confirming this.
Thankfully (depending on your personal aesthetic, I guess) this means you probably don’t own this skull.

When do I use it?

  1. What kind of literacy does this person have with playing video games?
  2. What kind of literacy does this person have with the intended platform of this game?
  3. What kind of understanding does this person have with the field of video games, and games similar to yours?

Narrative Pitch:

Even this image conveys “pew-pew.”

When do I use it?

Gameplay Pitch:

If you can get gifs to help convey your different pitches, these are ultra-handy.

As an indie, you have a very different journey towards trying to make your game and studio a known and trusted quantity to your audience comparatively.

There is nothing in here about the game being a team-based shooter. It’s only when you hit the “About” screen that you find the below. This is all teasing the feelings of the experience.
When you hit the About page, you finally see the only references to genre “team-based shooter”. The rest however, is about what you will do in the game — ‘travel the world, build a team, contest objectives, engage in combat.’
Beautiful, but not the kind of game that would instantly grab me usually.

Different audiences might need a different pitch, but you can’t divert too far from the actual value proposition of your game. You need to know where you can tweak it to say what you need.

Disco Elysiums numbers for their Launch Trailer are at 248k, compared to the 16k deep dive into the ‘inner voice’ mechanics and 123k release date trailer.

When do I use it?

Full ‘General’ Pitch:

When do I use it?

--

--

--

Living on caffeine and big dreams like everyone else. Production and marketing background with a degree in communications, working in the games industry.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Meredith Hall

Meredith Hall

Living on caffeine and big dreams like everyone else. Production and marketing background with a degree in communications, working in the games industry.

More from Medium

Progressive Web Apps’; Privacy-Friendly Apps

One Click Upsell Funnel For WooCommerce Pro

How cookies are handled by the Browser?

Nintendo Switch OLED Review