Promotion

Selling the product you have made, whether that be to a client, to a customer, or to an audience, is crucial. A fantastic product marketed terribly is worthless. First impressions do count. Often the quality of your product will be judged by the quality of its presentation, so put your heart into it!

Making a fantastic product is great. Making packaging and promotional material is the next step.

Target the audience

As you start to decide the packaging, stay focused on these things:

  • If you keep focused on who you are designing for, then it is a lot easier to come to a concept without forcing it.
  • Do some research. Look specifically at the packaging and the promotional material for products targeted at the same audience bracket. http://creativedepart.com/category/packaging/ is just one place to start that research. Try to appreciate what elements others have used to good effect. Be critical of stupid design moves. Put yourself into the demographic of the product’s target group and assess it how they would.
  • Ask around. Basically, get a feel for the current market.
  • Use graphics, fonts, and language that are relevant for the demographic the product is aiming at… Compare the different demographics being aimed at on the packaging of these 2 racing games:
    Mario Kart package uses cartoon characters to appeal to children, or the child at heart.
    Gran Turismo 5 package uses realistic photos to appeal to more adult petrol-heads.

Ratings

Just like movies, video games are governed by a ratings system.

ESRB rating symbol on the front, and content descriptor on the back.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings are designed to provide concise and impartial information about the content in computer and video games so consumers, especially parents, can make an informed purchase decision.

The process

Make quite a few possible package designs, and then cull them. If the design is incongruous with the rest of the project, file it with all the others sacrificed. Choose the 1 design that best fits the criteria – classy, attention-grabbing, effective, and informative. Remember, the purpose is to sell this product.

Layout

This final design stage is so important, regardless of how mundane the project may seem after your months of hard yakka. Package layout is comprised of fonts, copy, and graphics.
Text layout is vital – this is the text that is going to convince a client/customer that the cool box they just picked up is actually worth buying/trying.

On the front, on the back

See Packaging and the Premiere for the list of vital elements to include on the front and on the back of the packaging.

Fonts

Be consistent and use the same highlight fonts on the packaging as those in the actual product. Check back in Multimedia Fundamentals for the typography links. Legible and scannable are rather crucial qualities, and a secondary font should be used for body text.

Colours

Again, consistency is the name of the game. Besides, if using modern design software, you can save quite some effort and literally just re-hash existing artwork and palettes. However, other packages of the same genre will all be sitting on the market shelves alongside each other. So it may pay to add a classy, contrasting colour. Check Multimedia Fundamentals for the colour links.

Writing copy language and aesthetics

The language you use will either sell your product, or lose a user’s interest. Marketing departments should determine and prioritise the most important parts of the product, and the copy should reflect these important features. Sometimes it might help to use short words, but it is always best to avoid industry jargon and genre specific language. Use exciting language that briefly explains the purpose, features, and highlights.

Text should be large and clear, and restricted to designated areas on the box. Keep the blurb brief and in a compact space. Use bullets to visually distinguish between points.

Graphics

Age of Mythology package graphic on the frontAge of Mythology actual game screenshotPrimarily derived from sketches and the product, artwork must be consistently themed. Only a few screen shots are needed on the back. What actually makes a good graphic depends on the genre and target user group. A children’s game cover graphic would misrepresent an adult game, and vice versa. A good graphic also encapsulates the themes and characters of the product without necessarily reflecting the actual content. Cover designs of a variety of games all show a number of similarities and common concepts: a prominent title, and one central graphic feature.

Cross-marketing mediums

The important thing with cross-marketing is identifying the most effective mediums to use for promotion. Cross advertising a product for middle-aged business men in a drum’n’bass zine may not be the most effective method of advertising. Again, it comes back to being able to assess your audience – to know what other information mediums they access, and utilize those. Other potential information mediums are the web, radio, print, and any genre specific mediums.

Web marketing

GTA4 website cross-marketingCreating a parallel website is a great way of cross-promotion. Keep it consistent. Use the same fonts/colors/graphics as the actual product and the box. Include lots more information – reviews, in-depth discussion of plot, and etcetera.

The website for Grand Theft Auto IV (http://www.rockstargames.com/IV) mirrors the colours and artwork from the actual game itself. The website also features news (pictured right), radio stations, merchandise, updates, subscription, game information and other features.

Print marketing

Sample magazines for print marketing.Get reviewed. Advertise in relevant magazines (gaming, etcetera). Remember to use big headings and graphics in advertising material, and only provide basic information (website/distributor and genre).