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The Strength of IPs and Brands

What is an IP and a Brand?

Intellectual Property (IP)

  • The product you provide to the market. IPs create a uniquely emotional experience conveyed through gameplay, characters, story, art, etc.


  • the company and how they interact with the market. Brands communicate an IP's emotional experience to the market in a way that is impactful, stands out, and appeals to the target audience. They make a promise.

Building a Brand

Start with an IP and build around it. IPs need to have unique, artistic, and emotional intent. Create an experience that your development team can own.

Many of the best IPs are character based. Create an experience that is built around a character, or cast of characters.

Examples of Successful IPs Companies
  • Character focused IPs:
    • Super Mario
    • Sonic the Hedghog
    • Tomb Raider
    • Hitman.
  • Experience focused IPs:
    • Call of Duty
    • Assassin's Creed
    • Madden
    • Civilization

Making a Marketable IP

Devs can get too invested in the game they make, but the market does not share the same sentiment. Unbiased Market Research will inform you if the market is interested in your game.

You have to think about how to communicate the experience of a new IP to new people. Your marketing material should showcase the experience players will have through interactions and game mechanics. Use A/B testing with your marketing material to determine the best way to communicate your IP to the market.

If your IP innovates too much, then people likely won't understand the experience. Make an IP that has a solid gameplay experience with a little innovation. IPs that try to innovate too much can become more difficult to market to a general audience.

Creating a Lasting Brand

Transition to selling emotional experiences through a series of games. Human beings prefer things they already have an emotional relationship with. That’s why all the top-selling games are sequels or spin-offs of existing IPs, or games developed by an established brand.

A strong IP can migrate to other media and become an Entertainment Property. Investors are thinking about this when you pitch an IP to them.

Sometimes the Dev Team becomes the Brand. People trust their capabilities to deliver quality games. Building an IP and/or Brand improves future market success. Indies that have to compete against IPs and Brands, are put at a disadvantage.

You need to balance creativity with business. Have a long-term sustainable goal for your game and company. Plan for success.

Examples of Successful Indie Companies

Strong IP: Shovel Knight

Yacht Club’s Shovel Knight is a successful character based IP. Continued success has been seen through the release of sequels, spin-offs, cameos in other games, and a figurine.

Strong Brand: Subset Games

After the success of FTL: Faster Than Light as Subset Games first IP, the trust in the studio as a Brand helped their second game, Into the Breach, become a successful IP.

Key Takeaways

  • Have a character you own that you can build an IP around.
  • Ask yourself, does this game have a unique emotional journey we can own? And how do we communicate it to the market?
  • Test your marketing to figure out the best way to communicate your game's experience to your target audience.


Christian Fonnesbech - CEO of Leverage