How To Create & Build Brands In The Toy & Game Business
There can be no doubt that the big money in the toy and games business comes from building and selling brands. Growing by acquisition is a proven formula for successful growth in this industry. Brands which get into retail each and every year also provide stability and security in a turbulent marketplace with massive annual product churn. It isn’t easy though to build a blockbuster toy or game brand, but here’s some thoughts on how to do it:
Focus on building your own brands – this seems painfully obvious, but often companies get distracted by chasing easy win sales on licensed products or on jumping on saturated trends which will come and go leaving no ongoing legacy for the company. We need to do some of these things no doubt, because we need to generate revenue and pay our overhead, but while doing all this we also need to think about and ensure organisational focus on creating something ownable with longevity.
Take a longer perspective – so often companies focus on the next annual selling cycle or even next quarter, but brand building takes tenacity and above all time. Some brands are flyaway successes from the start, but most take time to build. A good solid brand may take 5 years to build to maturity, so we might need to avoid heaping massive year 1 sales pressure on our own I.P. products. By focusing more on organic growth we can build brands and branded products with an upwards sales trajectory which will stick in market. If we follow the standard toy launch model of dump and run i.e. ship in as much stock as possible to retail and hope it sells through, then we are far more likely to kill our brands.
Create compelling products with timeless appeal – there is a reason why certain things keep making a comeback i.e. Yo-Yos, fidget toys, slime/goo. That’s because the reasons why those toys were appealing in the past still apply. There are very few major brands in toys and games which don’t have really good products with proven play patterns.
Create a clear, distinctive and ownable visual identity – to make brands ownable, you need distinctive visual identifiers i.e. logo, design style, fonts and all that good stuff. There are plenty of brands in the toy & game business which you would recognise just from a logo, design pattern or font.
Use partnerships to level up your brands – for those trying to bootstrap their way up, partnerships can be really effective. A successful cross-promotional partnership benefits both sides and works best where there is an obvious fit between the products. For example, you can find Monopoly branded scratch cards in retail, which is an obvious fit with the classic Monopoly game brand being all about accumulating money. Needless to say, if you have a small hardly established brand you may not get a massive global deal, but with some ingenuity and persuasiveness you may be surprised what kind of partnerships you can create.
Help your retailers build a point of differentiation – there are many retailers who hate having to sell the same products as the major mass market retailers who trash the price on everything and make it hard to maintain profitability. Can you find some exclusive iterations or brand extensions of your core products to help ensure retail support with smaller retailers who will better nurture your up and coming brand versus the mass market box shifters?
We run a Consultancy business helping toy & games companies get ahead. For more information, check out www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services
We also run a Strategic Sourcing Consultancy advising toy & game companies around the world on their Sourcing strategies, reviewing their vendor base & suggesting improvements. To date our Sourcing services have saved our clients $tens of millions. For more information on how we can help, just go to: www.ToyTeamAsia.com