The lessons learned from the remarkable branding accomplishments of HGTV, Food Network, Bravo and the other television star factories can be applied to any web business. Here’s how you can brand like the specialty networks:
Bravo Branding Lesson: Be Controversial
One of the most notable branding successes has to be Bravo’s The Real Housewives Of, which has led to seven American city series as well as four international spinoffs. The inspired combination of eye candy bling with supercharged ego-driven confrontational excess has made superstars of otherwise unremarkable nobodies like NeNe Leakes, whose collisions with Star Jones & LaToya Jackson on Celebrity Apprentice are the stuff of legends. Brands stand out and get noticed when they spark debate, and although it is wise to avoid too much negative discourse (think of the recent maelstroms surrounding BP and Netflix), the quote often attributed to 19th century circus owner Phineas T. Barnum applies in most cases: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
HGTV Branding Lesson: Solve Your Customers’ Problems
Mike Holmes was a local contractor with an idea to do an HGTV show where he fixes up the messes other contractors have left behind. Holmes On Homes and its sequels have made Holmes not only a multimillionaire, but a household name throughout North America, the UK, Australia and the many other international markets where his series have met with wide acclaim. The key to Holmes’ appeal is the frustration many home owners have with repairs and additions made by unskilled and disreputable contractors. Although he cannot come over to your house to fix your leaky toilet, his show demonstrates what creates the leak in the first place, and how to do it right so it stays water-tight. When you provide answers to your customers’ problems, your brand gains trust, reputation and prominence.
Food Network Branding Lesson: Forge Your Brand from Quirkiness
The application of meticulous and sustained branding by network executives is specifically evident in The Next Food Network Star, which follows about a dozen generally hapless semi-pro cooks primarily chosen for their eccentricity, and then almost arbitrarily bestows upon one of them the title of that year’s Star. The winner gets their own show and opportunity to build a brand. Some have become middle-level personalities while others are pure breakouts like Guy Fieri: the spiky-haired juggernaut with eight(!) shows on Food Network as well as his own NBC prime time game show. Who had ever heard of movie producer Dino DeLaurentiis’ granddaughter, Giada, before she was “discovered” by Food Network in 2002? Readily identifiable but atypical cooks such as Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Mario Batali & others would never have become superstars without extraordinary branding. Food Network creates huge brands from literally nowhere by focusing on quirky presences that are instantly identifiable, and similarly embracing the offbeat and unusual can benefit your branding.
Discovery Channel Branding Lesson: Do Something Amazing
Former musician and garbage collector Les Stroud spent a year in the Canadian boreal forest living in a teepee and used the experience to launch Survivorman: a series where each episode has him stranded for a week with next to nothing in the middle of nowhere while self-videotaping his struggle to survive. In a world where virtually everything in our lives is push-button activated, watching poor Les struggle to cobble together a shelter out of pine boughs or keep the tarantulas from crawling on him in the rainforest has captivated millions around the world. Les’ adventures may be produced on pocket money but they regularly outdraw multi-million dollar budgeted TV series in the all-important ratings wars. Identifying your web business with something out of the ordinary (and attention-worthy) will considerably boost your branding.
You may not be able to turn your web business into a multi-billion dollar one in a few years like the specialty television networks have done, but adopting these tips will enhance and intensify any branding effort.