Branding Spotlight: League of Legends

Branding Spotlight: League of Legends

Posted by on April 22nd, 2014

LoL

A launch campaign can make or break a new product or feature, even for a well-established brand. When you release something new, you are targeting two main groups: your preexisting audience, whose attention you need to regain; and potential newcomers, who will be using this product as their first impression of your entire brand.

Audience Connections: League of Legends and New Champions

League of Legends is a free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), consisting of combat between two teams of five players each. Players select a pre-existing champion to use during a fight; each champion has unique abilities, a backstory, and a role on the battlefield.

Why are we bringing this up? Because in addition to creating a pretty fun game, Riot Games (the company behind League of Legends) also has a stellar marketing department. The game itself is free to play; but in order to get champions, you either need to earn in-game points – which can take an excruciatingly long time – or purchase them with real money. This business model relies on the consistent, successful release of new content. If the players aren’t interested in a new champion, they won’t buy it.

Riot generally introduces a new champion through a post on their blog, alongside a spotlight video that showcases the character’s abilities. But recently, they’ve also started releasing a teaser video, focused entirely on the flavor of the champion – that is, the story and personality.

Through this focus, Riot is treating their brand as a story, with a plot and exciting new reveals. And it works; their latest teaser video already has over four million views on Youtube, and judging from the comments, the community can’t wait to play the newest character.

Before we go any further, take a moment to watch three of the most recent champion teasers. (If you’re at work, you should probably put your headphones in.)

(Unfortunately, the little fluffy guy isn’t the new champion. It’s the big strong barbarian, but you probably guessed that.)

You wouldn’t want to come up against this guy in a fight, that’s for sure.

Seriously, how could you not want to play as this character?

A High-Five to Riot

These videos are pretty fun to watch, but they’re also great examples of branding. Here’s where Riot’s marketing team was spot-on:

  • The campaign does a great job promoting the core brand backbone of League of Legends: a fun, exciting, and competitive game play experience. None of the videos deviate from this theme.
  • The teasers never actually say “buy this champion.” Instead, they appeal to the unconscious needs of every player: to feel epic while in-game. It’s subtle, and it works.
  • Even though they’re ads, each video is also worth watching on it’s own merit, which means the audience will actively seek them out on their own time.

It’s worth noting that some of these teasers were parts of a larger campaign. Before the “Get Jinxed” video was published, the League of Legends site was covered in fake pink graffiti, as if the champion had decided to cause a little destruction to announce her arrival. By slowly revealing hints and information, Riot encourages community speculation and involvement. When the champion is finally released, players are swarming to buy him or her for their collections.

Causing a Riot for Your Brand

If you only take away one thing from Riot’s marketing methods, it should be this: a great campaign speaks to the audience, not at them. Whatever message you’re trying to send, your audience should feel like a part of it. This could mean a slow, enthralling reveal; an interactive social media campaign; or even a fan based contest. Find a way to get your audience involved, and your brand will prosper.

 

About 

Alexey is a writer both on and off the clock. She’s inspired by classic poetry, music, and the relationship between visual design and the written word.

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