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Cranium – building success one Craniac at a time

Cranium and Quicken Loans have something in commonI was lucky last week to get a chance to hear Richard Tait, CEO of Cranium, give a keynote luncheon address at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s 3rd Annual Summit in Las Vegas.

Tait is a great speaker and has really put together (with the help of others) a great company.  It’s all about the culture (check out Cranium’s blog).  I can appreciate that working for Quicken Loans.  In fact, watching his presentation I realized there are some very close similarities between Cranium and Quicken Loans.

Both companies owe their huge business successes to the same thing – strong corporate cultures that breed innovation.

From a humble beginning of two employees creating 12 copies of one game (Tait confessed that each of the first 12 copies of Cranium ever produced had something wrong with them) to a multi-national corporation that is the 3rd largest game company in the world, Tait and his folks have lived by five "principles" or rules of success.

  1. Create a culture not a company - Tait showed a video of the corporate offices of Cranium. Red walls, leaders that wear funny Cranium hats, a CFO that rides around on a scooter thingy, a gong that people just love to hit all the time, and a really yummy looking food and drink bar.  (I wish we had red walls here….)
  2. Build products that people love (not like – LOVE) – this is pretty obvious.  Good games get played a few times and put in the closet. Great games become the object of parties and next thing you know people calling themselves "Craniacs." And Cranium is always getting ideas and submission to improve from its customers. I’ll get to that in a sec. Tait gave an example of a great product when he described the portable defibrillator. Someone came up with idea to fill the need for defibrillators in public places and scored a home run. That’s what Cranium strives to do with its games.
  3. Break through the clutter – There is a lot of competition in the board game industry.  Cranium has found a unique way to be noticed. Folks have proposed over Cranium and even gotten married at Cranium themed weddings. Some families even boast grandparents, parents and grandchildren that are all Craniacs!
  4. Always change the channel - grow, innovate, or go to sleep.  We feel the same way.
  5. The customers are your sales force  – that’s right.  Nobody sells your stuff better than the people who truly love it and believe in it.  Cranium creates games that people feel a part of. It’s that simple.

Now I must confess. I’ve never played Cranium (my coworker Jacque confirmed that it’s a blast and she gets really mad playing it – sounds like my kind of game). But it’s going on my Christmas list this year.

And if I don’t get one?

I’ll go to the store on Dec. 26th and get my own.  Who knows, I might just become the next Craniac…

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  1. Cranium does friggin rock. Sadly I do have a copy of the game (it’s in the truck of my car if you wanna play it) and I’ve only played it a few times.
    I need smarter friends.

    Posted by: Jen R | November 20, 2007
  2. Love that game! I also have mine in my car right now…It makes me mad because I always get that person who thinks they’re creative and want to act it out and then stand there and say ‘oh my gosh, i don’t know what to do! *giggle, giggle* Makes me want to tear my hair out. :)

    Posted by: Jacque | November 20, 2007
  3. Clay you are definitely a Craniac in the making.
    The game seriously rocks, until the clay gets all hard and nasty….

    Posted by: Mark | November 20, 2007
  4. Hey!!! This game isn’t about *being* smart, it’s about exercising the gray matter! The more you use it playing a game like Cranium, the smarter you get. ;-)
    So, keep playing Cranium, whatever flavor or variety. I think I’m up to about four Cranium games in my house now. But, I think we need to use them more. Hah!

    Posted by: Christy | November 21, 2007
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