Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Branding: Why the Warcraft Movie Logo Makes Sense

img: Legendary
I had a three-year stint working for an ad agency that provided branding services for clients. A caveat: I was more of a wordsmith and an IA designer, so not an expert in all-things branding. Still, we launched several companies from the ground, one of which in particular is experiencing impressive success in their state and beyond. Granted, we thought they were selling a pretty sweet product, but still their message had to be tailored, packaged, and distributed through the smartest channels.

It has been over a year since I left the agency, but some of the mixed reactions to the logo from the upcoming Warcraft movie got me thinking about my old job. Re-branding---the act of updating, changing and retooling current brand assets---can be extremely risky. Generally, it's done to freshen up or give a face lift to a company or product aiming for greater appeal among a wider audience. Of course there's been a rich history of re-brandings that didn't go so well.

But Blizzard isn't re-branding. They have no need to. So why isn't the Warcraft movie logo the logo we fans have become accustomed to over the past twenty years? The answer is simple: audience. 

Warcraft: the Movie needs to make money, and in order to do that, it's going to need to be seen by a much wider audience than the one currently invested in the Warcraft franchise. While it's unclear just how much of a budget the Warcraft movie has, director Duncan Jones is surely working with more than the $5 million he had for Moon. If every current and former player saw the movie in theatres twice and then bought the DVD, it wouldn't guarantee a profit. Not even close. 

So how do you entice people to see your action-packed, drama-infused, visually stunning film that's based on a game universe when they have no interest in it (and in fact, may hold an unfavorable opinion towards video games in general)? You get them to forget it's based on a game and promote like it's just another action movie. I may eat a hat on this one, but I fully expect that most---if not all---of Legendary's promotional efforts once trailers are out will conveniently leave out the fact that the movie derives its plot from a video game. 

I think at this point, a good portion of the movie-going public have seen a Warcraft commercial; remember, the ads were pretty popular a few years back when they had all those celebrities sitting in. Heck, some aired during the Super Bowl! Chances are that tens, if not hundreds of millions of people who don't play the game have already formed an opinion about it. And as Legendary Pictures sees it, that just may not be the right opinion.

Maybe each and every trailer will include "Based on the #1 Best-Selling MMO of All-Time," but I highly doubt it. Blizzard and Legendary Pictures already have the majority of us---fans of the Warcraft franchise---in their pockets. We'd see the film even if the logo would've came to us in pastel-colored comic sans. It's the rest of the world that Legendary needs to capitalize on, those who've maybe seen a commercial once or twice, have a friend who plays, or know nothing altogether. They need to be convinced this is a movie proper, and not just some video game brought to screen, made just for the game's fans. The logo is part of that. 

What do you think? Agree, disagree, or request my address in the comments so you can send me a hat to chew on.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that they were wise to ditch the traditional Warcraft logo. I think what confused me about it was that it screams more 'Transformers' and less 'Lord of the Rings' -- meaning that I more imagined it as a fantasy movie and not an action-adventure. Perhaps that is why people are hating on it? Who knows. Either way I know I'll be heading to the cinema to catch a screening, the logo or genre won't change that :)