Valve Is Hiring People To Make Actual Games Again

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Teddy Cheek

By Teddy Cheek, head of marketing, The Escape Game

If you're a marketer in a crowded category, you understand the pain and agony associated with brand confusion. As the head of marketing for The Escape Game, I know I do. My category is CROWDED. Like, Disney World in July crowded. There are now over 2 ,000 escape rooms in the U.S., over 1,000 of those use "escape" in their name.

New Category + Lots of Competitors + Descriptive Names = Mass Confusion

The escape room category is exploding, experiencing massive year-over-year growth.

Because of the competition, we have been diligent about unique and cohesive branding from the beginning. However, no matter how you try to avoid brand confusion (like using strong logos and colors), it can still be a big issue. It’s up to marketers to make the most of the situation.

When Brand Confusion Happens...

Here's how it plays out in my world:

My Aunt Julie:  Hey! I played your escape rooms in Lexington. I love the Sherlock game!

Me: Oh that's actually a competitor. We don't have a location in Lexington or a Sherlock game.

Aunt Julie : Oh really? I thought they were all the same company.

Me:  They aren't. The industry is actually pretty huge. There are a couple thousand companies - some offering high-quality experiences, others...not so much.

So what could I do in this situation? One reaction might be to decide to distance myself from the category.

"We aren't an escape room at all," I could bellow.

"We won't use that word on our website or in-store ever again," I could vow.

Having customers confuse you with another brand is frustrating. But, here’s a word of warning: don't be too quick to separate yourself from an accelerating category.

There can be a lot to gain from a crowded category if there is enough demand. I think "The Law of The Jungle" says it best: "For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack." There is a silver lining to be found when a concept is popular enough to warrant many competitors.

In my case, thousands of people search for an "escape room" every day in their city. Knowing this, I probably shouldn't distance myself from the "escape room" term and call myself something else entirely. When people search "escape room near me," they would be less likely to find my business if it were called "Teddy's House of Real-Life Social Games."

At The Escape Game, I just want to make sure I'm the one winning the most business. How do I do that? How do I make sure I'm converting on all the demand that the category is driving?

Two simple steps: Educate and Wow!

Escape Game(2)

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