Winter is Coming: Build Your Brand Like Game of Thrones

picture of premium products

Winter is coming. Are you ready?

As fans of the hit show, Game of Thrones, prepare to return to Westeros and Essos next month, this global pop culture phenomenon’s branding continues to be on point. From the digital landscape to merchandising and beyond, HBO and the show’s creators have yet to stray from the GoT brand’s core.  

As season seven kicks off, take a cue from the decision makers behind one of the most popular brands in recent memory.

Apply these lessons learned from the Game of Thrones brand to your own brand, so you can claim the Iron Throne (or achieve another goal. 😉)

Make Appropriate Merchandising Decisions

We’re big believers in the power of promotional products, but each product you select should be appropriate for your brand. From well-designed apparel to drinkware and strategy games, Game of Thrones has been selective when deciding which merchandise to affiliate with its powerful brand – and that has resulted in an explosion of sales and even more branding opportunities. Every time you imprint your brand on an item, it’s an opportunity to connect with a prospect or strengthen your relationship with a customer. Your brand is a powerful tool! Keep it in mind with every decision you make – merchandising and otherwise.

“While the battle for the iron throne hasn’t favored the Starks and Targaryens, data shows that these two houses are winning the online merchandise war.”

(Source: Slice Intelligence)

Maintain Your Brand’s Voice Across Platforms and Worlds

Are you working with a brand from a different world or one that relies heavily on nostalgia marketing? You can still have a strong social media and digital presence without changing your brand’s voice. Game of Thrones has an incredible, interactive website and a thriving social media presence while still maintaining its unique voice. You should keep your voice in mind for every audience touchpoint, not only a landing page or Instagram profile. For example, below is an invitation to subscribe to Whispers of Westeros, the official Game of Thrones newsletter. Notice the language used: the title, a mention of ravens and no mention of email in front of newsletter. The wax seal at the top is a nice touch.

Make a Human Connection

When you talk Game of Thrones with fans, you’ll quickly learn about their loyalties to specific characters or houses. GoT has done an excellent job of developing characters, their backstories and the houses they’ve declared their loyalty to. Fans have grown to love or hate characters, which helps them decide which house deserves their loyalty. It’s no coincidence that you can shop by house or character on the show’s online store, and a majority of the merchandise available is house- or character-specific. By moving beyond the main brand to individual brands, Game of Thrones has sold more merchandise and paved the way to begin building brands for much talked about prequels.

How can your brand make a human connection with your audience? Showcase your employees – what they do, how they contribute to the success of the company and where they came from – to tap into your audience’s emotions. Share your company’s community involvement or charitable efforts to let customers and potential customers know about your commitment to help others. Talk about your company values, so fans who share those values can develop long-term relationships with you. Millennials, and other generations today, are strongly steered by personal values and morals, so they’re looking to buy from companies that display similar values. Don’t be afraid to show some personality when you tell your story to grab your audience’s attention and form an emotional connection with them.

Keep Your End Game in Mind

David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the show’s creators, have always kept their ending in mind as they’ve developed storylines and written episodes. It helps them know which direction to take the series and when to stand their ground on important decisions. During discussions about the eighth and final season, HBO wanted Benioff and Weiss to add more episodes, but the pair refused. They know how the series will end, and six episodes will help get them there, not more.

As you plan campaigns and develop event strategies, keep your end game in mind too. What objectives do you want to achieve from your efforts? The more specific you can get, the more likely you’ll achieve what you’re aiming for. As you set your goals and objectives, keep your brand – and the bigger picture – in mind. Do your goals align with your brand? Do they help you achieve your overall or long-term objectives? If not, you may want to rethink your efforts so your brand keeps heading in the right direction.  

Whether you’re anxious to tune in to the seventh season of Game of Thrones next month or not, keep the show’s branding lessons in mind. You might learn a thing or two that will help you build your own brand and connect with your audience. Jon Snow may know nothing, but now you do. What you do with that knowledge, and how you decide to build your brand, is up to you.

Share Your Story

Game of Thrones fans, what house are you loyal to?

Who’s your favorite GoT character?

What other branding lessons have you learned from this popular show?


Sign up for our newsletter