A Powerful (Esports) Brand Starts with a Powerful CEO

For a while now I’ve wanted to write about branding and communication within the esports industry and this weekend I found the perfect example for this article. You see, most brand loyalty in esports comes from well performing teams and players with unique personalities but there also is a third factor which is crucial for a brand’s success. The CEO.

Last Friday, someone in my network retweeted some words of advice by Jason Lake, who I now know to be the CEO of Complexity. As someone involved in the industry, I like to stay informed about all the big teams in esports but at its current growth it’s getting harder and harder to know them all, so sometimes you have to choose. Complexity was always one of those organisations that existed just outside my field of view. I’ve never been that into CS:GO or DotA and their (North American) presence in League of Legends dates back several years already, meaning I was left with their Hearthstone squad and just never got around to researching the team better.

That changed over the weekend and I can tell you that I’ve really enjoyed catching up on their history and it wasn’t because they won a big tournament or posted a funny meme. Instead, it was because of one person who’s clearly very passionate about what he does. Let me walk you through the discovery process that eventually convinced me of the power of the Complexity brand.

As Jason does not have his role in his Twitter bio (which I definitely recommend), I did a quick google search and scroll through his recent tweets to figure out who he was. There, I saw his pinned tweet linking to a Facebook post where he openly talked about the acquisition of Complexity by the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t a press release but rather a personal thank you to everyone involved in the process. This is exactly the kind of content I’d love to see from every brand! A classic press release (while important) will not make your brand stand out and will paint a picture of the whole thing as nothing more than a business transaction. A personal note, however, with behind the scenes photos and unique insights, has a much more emotional impact on the reader.

So, that was awesome, but what else? One Facebook post in the wake of the most important moment in your company’s history isn’t that special by itself if you can’t follow through. Fortunately, I quickly discovered that this way of communicating openly with the Complexity fans wasn’t a one-off but something that’s a core value of the brand. What convinced me of that, was the YouTube video below featuring an episode of Complexity: POV. Most organisations have done the behind the scenes video content by now and it’s all very similar because the moment things get interesting the camera gets shut off. The very raw nature of this episode is what I want to see more from esports brands. Some of them have tried but this form of communication never seems to stick for very long, possibly out of fear of sharing too much. Shame!

I also wanted to touch on the most important asset you have as a company: your people. In esports, Twitter is the main communication platform for everyone from fans to players, talent and brands, and not enough organisations are using this to their advantage! Communication should not only come from your brand account or the person in charge. It should come from your photographer, marketing manager, recruiter, receptionist and community managers. Complexity clearly gets this. I, for example, was very happy to see a reply from Sören, their Assistant General Manager, when I tagged Complexity in a tweet of mine about Hearthstone. They could have replied from their brand account but this was a lot more personal and straight from the source!

Some other examples of companies who get this are Razer and Blizzard. Razer’s CEO Min-Liang Tan has a Facebook page where he writes regular updates and shares insights on the day to day stuff. Blizzard, on the other hand has its employees promote the brand for them. Type in any position in Twitter search, add Blizzard to it and I’m sure you’ll find someone passionately talking about their job. This is exactly what you want as a company!

I hope this post created some food for thought, whether you’re an esports professional or have absolutely nothing to do with the industry and were just curious. Make sure to check out Cloud9’s Jack Etienne, and G2’s Ocelote for more examples of powerful CEO’s and don’t forget to keep an eye on Jason Lake of course.

You can also connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn if you wish to read any of my future articles on the esports and gaming industry.

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