Look out Angry Birds – Rovio is Expanding with a New Game

angry birds rovioWhat’s a company to do when a brand explodes into a global phenomenon? Extend the brand! Well, Rovio did that with Angry Birds, and can keep doing it since the popularity of the mobile game featuring birds, pigs, and slingshots shows no signs of slowing down (Angry Birds recently hit the billion download mark). However, instead of taking the easy route by simply extending the Angry Birds brand for years to come and launching Angry Birds sub-brands, Rovio is hoping to recreate the Angry Birds phenomenon with a new game that will have it’s own brand identity.

Rovio achieved success with its Angry Birds brand by following the three core steps of branding. Angry Birds brand extensions into the toy category, clothing, and so on were consistent with the brand promise. Consumers waited anxiously for new Angry Birds brand experiences, and the brand benefited from pull marketing and a powerful brand buzz that spread faster than anyone could have imagined. The game only debuted in 2009! Check out the Angry Birds infographic for all the details about the brand’s rise to super power.

Rovio’s Brand Strategy

Sure, it would be safe and easy for Rovio to ride on the coattails of its Angry Birds success and to slap the Angry Birds brand on every new product the company launches, but that strategy doesn’t come without risks. Inferior sub-brands and extensions could tarnish the Angry Birds brand.

Introducing a new brand costs more, takes more time, and can be risky, but consumers love Angry Birds so much, it’s highly likely that they’ll want to try anything Rovio releases. It’s not unlike how people feel about J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter brand. Even if her future books aren’t related to Harry Potter, a large percentage of Harry Potter fans are likely to purchase those books simply because they trust that J.K. Rowling will deliver great experiences.

What’s Next for Rovio?

According to The Register, the next Rovio game is called Amazing Alex, and it will be based on the 2011 Casey’s Contraptions iPad game, which Rovio acquired from Snappy Touch & Mystery Coconut. You can see a video about that game below. If you’ve ever played Angry Birds, it’s not hard to imagine how Rovio will adapt this game into a unique and addictive experience.

The trick for Rovio is making its two game products and the associated brands unique from each other. Each must have its own identity that creates the start of the “Rovio family of brands.” That means Rovio should develop an overall brand strategy for Amazing Alex with the game being the first product under the Amazing Alex brand name.

As Al Ries and Laura Ries explained in The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, “A family of sibling brands is not a strategy for every corporation. But where it is appropriate, a sibling strategy can be used to dominate a category over the long term.” They offer the following principles that should be kept in mind when developing a sibling strategy for a company’s stable brands:

  • Focus on a common product area.
  • Select a single attribute segment.
  • Set up rigid distinctions among brands.
  • Create different, not similar brand names.
  • Keep control of the sibling family at the highest level of the company.

So far, Rovio is making great strategic business decisions and consumers can’t get enough of Angry Birds. As long as the Amazing Alex game meets consumer expectations from Rovio based on their prior experiences with Angry Birds (meaning Amazing Alex must be engaging and fun), Rovio should find great success with its family of brands in the future.

What do you think? Will you try Amazing Alex?

Image: LGEPR

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.