Over the years the gaming industry has become really competitive and fortunately, the brands have been successful in maintaining the game's heat among the audience. Sega and Nintendo are the two most established names in the gaming realm that have existed since the 90s and are still going strong.
We know that Nintendo levelled up to be one of the biggest gaming franchises only after starting as a card production brand but what about Sega?
Sega started its journey as a coin-operated standard game brand in 1940, Hawaii. In Hawaii, the brand used to provide games for the military base but shifted its function to japan and renamed itself Service Games of Japan and later got merged with Rosen enterprises to create Sega (enterprises).
Over the years Sega did gain revenues with its game consoles however, Nintendo by a great margin defeated the Sega Master System in 1986. Keeping in mind the competition, in 1991, Sega introduced its charming yet bold mascot, we call Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sonic hasn't always been the iconic sassy game idol fighting the evil scientist Eggman with sass moves. Originally in nature Sonic mascot was introduced by Sega as a marketing device to improve brand communication.
When Sega came into the market, its competitors such as Nintendo were already too established with a loyal customer base. At this time Sega only had 6% of the shares in the home console market.
The audience couldn't associate any emotions with the Sega as a name or the wordmark. Here, the brand desperately lacked recognition. Nintendo was at its fastest phase with loved and cherished characters such as those of Super Mario.
Taking inspiration from the plump and cutesy characters' recognition amongst the audience, Sega came up with an edgier character that was faster and cooler.
Sega introduced a personified character with electric blue quills, rebellious smirk, and fierce attitude but the designers didn't forget the basic rules of the logo. Some association with the brand was necessary and they added the electric blue that matched with the brand Sega current logo.
When we compare two rival companies and analyse the actions, the most common conclusion is "They wanted something different and a step ahead of their competitor".
The foundation of any activity of rival companies is to stay ahead of their competitors but that wasn't entirely the case with Sega vs Nintendo.
Nintendo as a brand was targeting the younger generation and offered a family-friendly vibe with the Mario family.
On the other hand, Sega target audience were teenagers to older audiences. Constructing Sonic images edgier and mature had nothing to do with the rivals or offering something different. It was more about connecting with the audience efficiently this time.
The surviving chances of the brand could have been thinner if they had blown up the second chance of recognition.
The Sonic first appearance was made in-game rad mobile as a side view mirror ornament and four months later Sega Genesis was released with an official Sonic appearance.
Sega providing Sonic multiple platforms has to be the cleverest marketing strategy in the industry. To amplify the brand, Sonic the hedgehog was presented on diverse platforms.
While most game characters were confined to their image presented in the actual game, Sonic surpassed every platform's expectations. The smirking hedgehog transcended the games, comics, cartoon, and toys.
Sonic the hedgehog as a game had multiple versions and at least five more characters other than him. The brand continued the marketing by changing the Sonic the Hedgehog logo on its 10th anniversary and onwards.
Each anniversary had to offer a release or announcement for the fans so the occasion automatically gained a lot of publicity..
As Sega completed a successful decade, a music CD was realized with the title "Sonic the Hedgehog 10th anniversary". It was a limited edited version containing a variety of music from the overall Sonic releases.
The tenth-anniversary logo was simple yet classic. The designer added an upcast yellow ring portraying the significant source of score in the game. The ring was engraved with "anniversary” and below mentions the numeric 10th (ten years). If you look closely the in the 10th resembles the print Sonic feet made while running.
On Sega's 15th anniversary in 2006, the brand released an overall 27th edition of the Sonic comic online. Known as STC online, the release contained one original story and several features.
Even though the comic cover itself had several variants but the 15th-anniversary logo was on a whole different level.
The 2006 was kind of old school yet it hit the spot. Again using the core elements i.e the yellow ring, red from shoes and the blunt blue spikes, the 15th-anniversary logo was created. The creators simply added a slim ring and aligned text "anniversary. 2006". From the ring came out the outer head spikes of Sonic, slightly covered with "15th". The clever artist curved the inner of 5 in a manner that again showed the shape of Sonic running.
On its 20th anniversary in 2011, Sega introduced a limited-time app for iOS devices. The application was actively available on the app stores for download. The app consisted of two Sonic limited edition games and wallpapers.
The 20th-anniversary logo wasn't something extraordinary. It had the similar font of "Sonic the hedgehog" as the 15th anniversary. In 2011, the designers removed both core elements, the yellow ring and the hedgehog spikes. However, on the 20th you can still spot the red oval shape from the Sonic running feet.
The 25th-anniversary party was organized in 2016 where the brand decided for the first time to live stream for an audience online. although the live streaming inauguration was a complete disaster due to technical issues.
Anyhow, on the 25th anniversary, Sega announced two new games for the upcoming year including side scroller Sonic mania and 3D adventure project Sonic.
The 25th-anniversary logo was an improvement compared with the 20th-anniversary one. This year the designers reduced the irreverent stars and added almost half the body of Sonic coming out from the silver ring. The ring sides were further decorated with what you can call wings. The text "25th anniversary" was also quoted in steel silver colour. The silver theme was evidently connected with the concept Silver jubilee anniversary of Sega.
The official date of Sonic the Hedgehog 30th anniversary is on 23rd June 2021. However, technically many claims that it's in February since the first appearance of the game was in February 1991.
Anyhow, four months before the official date the brand released new wallpapers for smartphone and PC, plus 21 characters icon and added a new page to the ‘Sonic Channel’ website. Another smart marketing strategy the company used was to announce all the new updates on the 20th of every month for the whole of 2020. The updates would lead to the 30th-anniversary occasion.
This year the logo designing services hired by Sega have outdone the expectations. We can say, this time the logo has captured the complete essence of Sonic.
The logo consists of the cartoon types customary blue silhouette of the hedgehog and the “0” in the logotype is again imitating the running feet on Sonic in red. The designers so far have added this particular element to every anniversary.
Over the years the Sonic image in the original logo has been modified with the trends and new software. You can see changes in the colour, edginess and texture of the mascot but such changes are necessary with time.
However, the important lesson Sega strategy teaches us is that the best logo designers can change the whole game for you. From being an ordinary brand, Sega rose to a level where Nintendo had no choice but to share the fame even though both rivalries have different target audiences.
Gary Roberts is a digital marketer. He loves to blog about digital marketing, designing, and business growth. A true lover of Coffee with chocolate cakes!