Keeping pace with the evolving media landscape and how to best represent and utilize your individual brand was the topic at hand at the 2018 PromaxBDA conference session “Branding the Future…Of Content Delivery.”
In 2017, for example, Hulu began a concerted effort to brand itself as its own live TV provider instead of just a place to go for next-day replays or off-network repeats. And it did so in a three-step branding campaign: 1) Content, All Your TV in One Place; 2) Experience, TV That Gets You; and 3) Control, More TV, More Choice.
“At Hulu, the connection between product, identity and campaign was a company-wide effort that requited clarity and strategy, and a purpose and a message,” said Reid Thompson, creative director, design, Hulu. “In recent years the landscape of entertainment as we know it and technology have changed radically. The choice for consumers became complicated and finding the shows that they loved was not always easy.”
“We wanted to bring back some of the magic to TV; that magic and delight you felt when you turned on the TV and it was not too much of a complicated experience,” added Thompson. “Since the beginning, the color of Hulu was green, and we wanted to hold on to that equity but make it more vibrant, saturated and dimensional. And it was all about adapting the content and letting the consumer get closer to what they like.”
Then, of course, there was Hulu’s first big scripted hit, drama The Handmaid’s Tale, which launched in April 2017 and was on the Top Five Best list of every TV critic. As history shows, all it can take is one big show to ignite an entire platform.
”We wanted our content to come forward. We wanted to embrace color, but refresh the palate and make it a colorful experience, and we wanted to create design ingredients that were not cookie-cutter but could adapt to our brand,” he said.
”The final step was developing our ad campaign with the main objective to bring the new Hulu to life for consumers,” said Amy Davis, senior brand manager, Hulu. “We had all this great marketing and we needed to make sure consumers knew about it through our content, experience and control strategy.”
Syfy, which rebranded from Sci Fi in 2009, has the specific goal of becoming the “ESPN of the sci-fi genre,” said Jeff Blackman, Syfy’s SVP, marketing. “There were a lot of things about the old brand from a few years ago that we knew we wanted to evolve or simply show the door to. We didn’t really have a point of view and there was certainly no humor.”
“The first thing we did was rechristen our digital brand to Syfy Wire, and that became the ultimate ambition of transforming the Syfy brand into a vibrant larger-than-TV identity brand. And our future ambition is to go beyond our own properties, shows and talent and to craft an identity brand for fans of all things that make up the genre space.”
The rebranding at Syfy, which went into effect last June, included a new look and feel, new scripted shows (including well-promoted drama Krypton, which focuses on Superman’s grandfather, Seg-El), and more of a focus on this newfound fandom.
More recent was the rebranding of former cable network Spike TV to the Paramount Network, which launched in January and has been positioned by parent Viacom as a general “flagship” outlet for original scripted series, competing with other “premium” cable networks (like HBO, AMC, FX and USA). Content is king; so the arrival of Oscar winner Kevin Costner as the star attraction in new drama Yellowstone, which opens June 20, gives the early perception of Paramount Network as a potential destination.
”Viacom has always been about super-serving specific audiences for advertisers; whether that is Nickelodeon with kids, millennials with MTV, or African Americans with BET,” said Terry Minogue, SVP, brand creative, Paramount Network/TV Land. “Spike filled that role for many years with young men, but Viacom never had a broad, general entertainment brand in house. So we branded this new platform as “A Network Born Today,” and now we need to deliver on quality content, less commercials, and a seamless app and viewing destination.”
“Our goal was, and is, to establish Paramount Network as a prime destination for cinematic storytelling,” he added. “It is premium content without the premium subscription. And our research shows out targets are the millennials and the Gen X community, and upscale and technologically savvy individuals. We know who to reach and our job is to maintain the caliber of the programming with the product we are promising to deliver.”
“That’s all you can really ask for any rebranding,” he said.