Mike Hayes, president of Sega West since mid-2009, tells Gamasutra that Sega’s new branding strategy hinges on agnosticism, shifting the Sega brand to the background.
As the company has been increasingly stable over the years, with critically mixed but financially profitable Sonic titles, as well as more core-oriented offerings, this is a different approach. At E3 2011, Gamasutra spoke with Hayes about his vision for the future of the Sega brand.
“Sega has a very interesting history, and it’s been quite a rollercoaster, as we all know,” said Hayes. “Way back in 2003, 2004, when we reinvented ourselves as a software company, what we’ve tried to do is pass a lot of the effort and the communication of branding onto the products themselves, rather than at Sega. And we’ve always considered ourselves as a company that can support a whole variety of brands.”
The company has tried to maintain a mixture of casual and core-focused brands, and everything in between. Of course, most companies have tried that, but with hits like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games on the one hand, and Bayonetta on the other, Sega seems to actually be accomplishing it.
“What we’ve done as a company is try to be as agnostic as we possibly can,” he says, “so everything’s focused on the brand, rather than Sega as a company.”
While legacy brands and content are important where they fit, and help benefit smaller products and large brands like Sonic, Hays says, that can’t define Sega as a company. Sega’s profits doubled for the fiscal year 2010, showing that while a diminished focus on the Sega brand may irk the hardcore fans, it’s working for the company.
“Definitely our focus is on the product,” he reiterated. “If people like the product and recognize it’s Sega, that’s a bonus. But what we don’t want to do, is just trade on the name Sega, because it’s about the products, not about the name, whatever people may think of that name.”