Brand Loyalty

As long-time readers may know, I love the video games made by Obsidian Entertainment.  They are exceptionally well-written, and feature very deep, thought-provoking stories.  Their works are what have convinced me that games are just as legitimate an art form as movies, books etc.

Their latest project is an isometric fantasy RPG, tentatively called “Project Eternity“.  I was quite disappointed when I heard that, simply because I usually hate isometric fantasy RPGs.  The faux-medieval fantasy settings bore me; I prefer a modern or futuristic setting.  The isometric view annoys me to no end. It feels more like I’m playing a board game.

Of course, that won’t stop me from playing it.  Chris Avellone and J.E. Sawyer are making it; and such is my faith in their abilities that I’ll still have to play the thing.  Avellone’s Planescape: Torment was an isometric fantasy RPG, and one of my favorite games. So, naturally, I have high hopes for “Project Eternity”.

I guess you could call this “brand loyalty“, but in my mind it’s not the same.  I’m loyal to the Obsidian “brand”, I guess, but only as long as they still employ the same guys who made the games I enjoyed in the past.  “Brand loyalty” is a term I always take literally, as meaning “loyalty to the symbol”. I’m not loyal to symbols per se, I’m loyal to the people who make what I consider high-quality products.

I think that for the most part, the idea of cultivating brand loyalty is companies fooling themselves and putting the cart before the horse.  They advertise to try to persuade people to like their products for various nebulous reasons.  In my opinion, the only way to get loyalty is by making good products.

A lot of this goes back to my belief that most advertising is a waste of money.  I don’t think celebrity endorsements or clever marketing or whatever will do anything to help out a lousy product.  The recently-concluded Presidential election is an example of this; all the Romney-supporting Super-PACs and their multi-million dollar ad purchases couldn’t make up for a rotten candidate.  And as for the loyal Republicans who voted for Romney, they probably didn’t care about the ads; they just voted for him because in their minds anyone who wasn’t Obama was automatically the better candidate.  Their loyalty, I suspect, is based in their own beliefs and ideas and prejudices, not in anything some ad told them.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?