Lots of brands are keen to make content, but don't know what it should be about or how to make it distinctive.
Having a core message, value or positioning that informs all output and ensures it adds up to a cohesive whole is as important for content strategy as it is for ad campaigns. Yet it’s surprising how many marketers overlook this in the rush to create.
Every successful media brand has an overarching positioning that drives its editorial agenda; helping identify the content that’s right for the brand. Even the multi-genre generalists such as BBC One and Channel 4 have a guiding proposition that helps to group their disparate content under one purposeful and watertight umbrella.
This editorial positioning shapes the name, identity, tone of voice and choice of content or, more accurately, the lens or frame through which that content is presented. This lens gives the brand a distinctive angle from which to tackle a subject. Over time it becomes recognisable to the audience, who come to anticipate content with a certain attitude or approach, making trial of new content an easier proposition.
Implications for brands
As more and more brands in highly competitive sectors start to produce content, it becomes increasingly important to make sure your content stands out and stays in your audience’s head. That’s a pretty challenging task if your competitors are creating content that sits in your natural subject area or genre. Think for example of the number of recipe videos on YouTube from the major UK supermarkets. What makes Sainsbury’s delicious recipe guide more memorable than Tesco’s? So it’s important that channel positioning and subsequent editorial strategy are driven by the distinctive quality of your brand and not your category or a specific genre. Allowing your product category and its associations to define your editorial strategy runs the risk that your content calendar will be undifferentiated and difficult to own.
The first important step then is to agree your brand’s content or editorial position, irrespective of delivery platform, as this will underpin all future content.
Editorial positioning versus brand essence
Broadcasters’ editorial positionings tend to share some common elements that aren’t present in all brand essences. They are bold and active statements of intent and sometimes, though not always, imperatives. All give a clear sense of direction and clearly guide what sort of content you should be making e.g. BBC Three – ‘Never afraid to try to new stuff’, Dave - ‘the home of witty banter’ and even generalists like Channel 4 talk about their ‘mission with mischief’ – a desire for their programming to stir up controversy and public debate.
A brand’s editorial positioning doesn’t have to diverge from its established brand essence, but many brands may find it better to translate their essence into a more active and directional relative that can more confidently dictate the nature of their content. Doing so will give any brand an advantage over its immediate competitors, and a better chance of stealing attention from established media brands.
Michael Reeves, Business Development, Content