Onikuma Branding

The Challenge.

In 2016 before they became Onikuma Gaming, a 5-man team at an early stage e commerce startup startedselling gaming headsets on Amazon. Things were going well, but the team had nobrand or any way to truly stand out from their competitors.

This teamtasked Somos with building a unique brand to set themselves apart from theircompetitors in the increasingly crowded gaming peripherals space. This is thestory of how Onikuma Gaming was born.

Somos builtthis entire brand from scratch, starting from the brand name Onikuma Gaming, thestory and magic behind the brand, logo design, graphic design including aunique character IP, animated logo and Visual Identity (VI) guidebook, productand lifestyle photography, and a custom coded Shopify website.

By 2019, this 5-man startup grew to over 50 employeesand passed over $42 million USD in annual sales. Somos has grown with Onikumaover the years, and we’re thrilled to share our story.

What we did.

  • Brand Concept & Naming
  • Logo Design & Animation  
  • Copywriting – Slogan & Brand Story
  • IP Character, Key Visuals & Graphic Design
  • Visual Identity (VI) Guidebook  
  • Product & Lifestyle Photography  
  • Website Design & Development  

The Results.

We set out to give Onikuma Gaming nearly everything they needed to launch their brand, and succeeded in this challenge.

Certain aspects, such as the graphic design and VI guidebook took significantly longer than others, but we’ve put things here in chronologicalorder to showcase how we gave birth to this demon baby. The entirety of the project took 3.5 - 4 months to complete with all rounds of feedback and revisions.

It’s been fun watching Onikuma Gaming grow from their humble origins, and really rewarding to see how far they’ve come since the early days. We’re really excited to see what they do next!

Our Recipe for success

Part

1

Conceptualization

Originating from the stylescapes we introduced early in our branding process, both teams knew that we were going to be drawing inspiration from Japanese culture. Of the concept ideas we gathered, both teams were especially drawn to traditional Japanese masks. Of the masks we reviewed, the one that stood out the most was the Oni (Demon) mask.

The one they call Oni

Knowing that this is the direction we would be taking; we went another step further to build on the Japanese Oni demon idea to create the unique concept of the Onikuma – a bear demon. Staying true to the brand’s industry, we finally settled on the name of Onikuma Gaming.

Part

2

Development

The Somos team created 4 logo concepts, inspired by the Oni mask. After deciding that some of our other concepts might be a bit too “edgy”, we settled on the first concept. After some slight revisions, we arrived at our final logo.

Color Palette

As we were well underway of creating a demon-inspired brand, red, white and black were natural color palette choices to reflect Onikuma’s strong presence.

IP Character, Key Visuals & Graphic Design

With our logo, colors and fonts decided, we moved on to create a unique IP character for this brand. We were inspired by a lot of gaming references at this stage. After playing around with a lot of concept ideas, we narrowed it down to 2 choices for the character. Ultimately we settled on the “Engineer Onikuma” character. We created a main pose and 3 additional poses, 1 for each product line. With our character ready, we created some key visuals to showcase Onikuma in his natural habitat, for use on the upcoming website and brand materials.

Visual Identity Guidebook

We assembled everything we made for the brand with clear usage guidelines in this Visual Identity guidebook. While meeting to run through our newly created brand VI guidebook, we started discussing the powers of the demon with the Onikuma team. The topic of possession came up, and we noticed that a lot of gamers (including ourselves) can spend hours in front of a screen without flinching, almost as if they were possessed by some mysterious force. Could this be the Onikuma demon at work? From this idea came the brand’s slogan: “Game like one possessed.” We started contemplating the origins of the Onikuma demon and realized that he must have been accompanying the brand’s founder, Liu Ming throughout his life. We built on Liu’s own personal story of growing up in a small village in rural China to document the fateful day he encountered the Onikuma, heard his mysterious song and had his whole life changed.

Part

3

Finalization

At this stage, we had created the brand guidelines and an initial batch of intriguing visual content for Onikuama. All that was left to do is implement it on their new website and social channels!

Product & Lifestyle Photography

With the brand guidebook finished, it was time to start prepping the remaining photo assets we would need for the website, as the brand’s existing white background Amazon photos would not produce the desired visual effect. We chose several products to create hero shots for and handled all shooting and post production.

Website Design

Now it was time to take everything we had made and bring it to life in the brand’s custom coded Shopifywebsite. The sheer amount of content we made speeded this step up greatly.

Key Takeaways

We set out to give Onikuma Gaming nearly everything they needed to launch their brand, and succeeded in this challenge. This was a huge amount of work, and each element of this case study was really a separate project in itself. The entirety of the project took 3.5-4 months to complete with all rounds of feedback and revisions. Certain aspects, such as the graphic design and VI guidebook took significantly longer than others, but we’ve put things here in chronological order to showcase how we gave birth to this demon baby. It’s been fun watching Onikuma Gaming grow from their humble origins, and really rewarding to see how far they’ve come since the early days. We’re really excited to see what they do next!

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