Patch Products rebrands to PlayMonster

For those of you who missed NY Toy Fair this year, there was some interesting news from Patch Products.  The company has rebranded.  Henceforth, the company will be named PlayMonster.

A Brief History of Patch Products

The company traces its roots back to 1971, when two brothers - Fran and Bryce Patch - started a commercial printing company in Wisconsin.  One of their printing jobs during the early 1980s was Trivial Pursuit.  Intrigued at the game’s amazing success, the brothers decided to start their own board game company.  That was 1985, and the company was called Patch Products.

Patch Products began with a line of tray puzzles (which are still being produced today).  The company’s initial success was driven by three board games - TriBond, Blurt, and Mad Gab - which were sold to Mattel in 2004.

Outset began distributing Patch Products in 2008.  Patch Products was quite different back then - with a limited product offering and a much thinner catalogue (their current catalogue is a whopping 136 pages).  Since that time, Patch Products has been on a growth streak.  The company acquired the educational products companies Lauri and Smethport, which included the rights to the legendary Wooly Willy.  They also started a line of baby products branded as Mirari.

Patch Products was recently acquired by a private equity firm, which has allowed the company to grow even faster, and expand into new categories.

The company’s newest acquisition is Roominate, an award-winning line of building sets designed for girls that help bridge the gender gap in STEM toys.  Roominate is perhaps best known for being funded by Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner during the sixth season of Shark Tank.

Our Own Attempt to Rebrand Outset Media

I am the first to admit that Outset Media is a poor name for a board game company.  The name originated back in 1996.  At the time, we only had plans to manufacture one game - which was The All Canadian Trivia Board Game - and then start a “real” business.  At the time, I was particularly interested in magazine publishing.

Of course, as we grew and it became apparent that the board game industry was indeed a good industry for us, we did have many internal discussions about whether or not we should change our name.  Perhaps adopting a name that would be more marketable.  With these internal discussions creating uncertainty about the direction of our company, in 2012 we decided to make a final decision about our name… and we decided to keep our name.

Why keep our name?  In some industries, the company brand is an important driver for consumer purchases (this is especially true with clothing brands).  However, in the toy and game industry, the product itself is the main consumer driver (the notable exception being Lego of course).  Will a consumer who collects Barbie dolls intentionally shop for Mattel products when looking for a board game?  Unlikely!

Think about this in another way.  The two largest North American toy companies are Mattel and Hasbro.  Have their “unmarketable” names hurt these two companies?  Hardly!  What about other important players in our industry like Cardinal, Winning Moves, or Pressman?

A name like Outset Media is unique.  While there is little opportunity for consumer recognition, unmarketable names like ours do work within the industry.  There is certainly no confusing Outset Media for another company!

So, after much discussion, we decided to keep our name.  We did design a new corporate logo.  We also did drop the word “Media” from our name in the new logo.

What About PlayMonster?

The name PlayMonster is certainly more fun than Patch Products.  And that cute green monster logo is even more fun!  But is it a better name?  I am no branding expert, so quite frankly I don’t know.  And I’m not sure it really matters.  If PlayMonster is successful in the long term, it will be because of the toys and games it manufactures, and not because of its name!

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