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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I’ve always taken for granted something I heard in school, that re-branding campaigns almost always fail to achieve their goal. I have no data at all to back this up, so I’m taking it all on faith right now. But, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think the recent changes to the corporate image of Kodak, AT&T, or Intel or going to achieve the intended goal.

Of course, this is partially because that goal is often something like “revitalize the brand and increase consumer awareness.” The reasoning is simple: consumers don’t give a fuck. Now, some may argue that re-branding is more to boost morale and provide a new vision to employees, or to provide a sense of unity during a takeover/merger. Whatever. Your employees think it’s bullshit too.

From more personal experience, I’ve seen this behavior with the constant drive to redesign websites. A brand starts not selling as well, so it’s decided that the website should be redesigned. This does nothing to attract your current visitors back for more, because now they can’t find what they are looking for. It does nothing to attract new customers, because they either would have come or they wouldn’t have; the look of your website isn’t going to make a difference.

In any event, what this is all leading up to is that our guild is currently at an inflection point. That’s a “critical juncture” in management speak. Where we are, we can almost run molten core, but not quite. If we pick up a dozen or so good players, we’re all set. On the other hand, until we pull that off, we’re fighting an attrition rate that’s pulling our existing good players out from under us, and into already established raiding guilds.

We were at this same inflection point about a month ago. This is good, because we haven’t fallen off the cusp, but we’ve not gone asymptotic either. I think the key reason this has not happened is because guild leadership elected for a re-branding campaign. They deployed a DKP system, which was a good idea, if the deployment was a little poorly executed. Unfortunately, most of the creative effort was spent on the website, and not on what was more important — recruiting and retention. The dream was that a new website and image would make up for all of the icky stuff — dissent, dissatisfaction, and feelings of being ignored.

Now, the new website is nice, but our guild members don’t really want to visit a website. They want to play the game. As soon as things start feeling like a job, well, then it’s not a game anymore. That’s part of our casual raiding mentality. If it’s suddenly a requirement they participate in the website and that it becomes a resource for their normal day, it gets weird. They visit the website to organize runs, and even that is haphazard, because a lot of people just want to be spontaneous. I visited the old website, and used it, and I visit the new website, and use it. But, I think that’s pretty much the way it works; the new website/image hasn’t really changed the people that didn’t participate in the first place. Shocker. It’s just one data point, but I’m convinced of my theory.

I think the guild is starting to realize this, as are some of the people who left are trying to come back, and folks are starting to realize that their pet panacea is less than effective. This is good, because people are starting to wake up and realize that all that matters is our existing members, and the need to recruit folks to fill out the ranks so we can start killing the bosses we already know how to kill (decursing lucifron is hard with only two mages).

I think what I’m trying to get at in the end is that running a big guild is not unlike running a small business (which isn’t to say we’re a big guild per se), and it has to be treated as such.