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.
From meager beginnings as a newspaper and minor network seen in a handful of American markets in 1993 to a global presence that encompasses subsidiary networks in Canada, the UK and Asia, the Food Network has played a major role in triggering the Foodie Revolution. Their shrewd marketing prowess is legend, and some of their techniques can be successfully applied to your restaurant’s email marketing. Solicit Recipes to Choose Your Own Dining Star The Next Food Network Star competition has produced such luminary superstar chefs as Guy Fieri, the spiky-haired juggernaut that has joined the ranks of top Food Network stars such as Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay and Mario Batali in making the jump to national broadcast networks. Unfortunately, Next Food Network Star castoffs such as Adam Gertler proved they can’t cook, so they’re given a show where they just wander around and talk about food. It can be argued that Tom Pizzica can’t cook or even talk about food, so why he has a show at all remains a question mark. Any way you slice it, foodies love to immerse themselves in the food scene, so why not invite your email newsletter subscribers to participate in your own version of Next Food Network Star by contributing recipes, with the winner getting a free dinner for four when their recipe is featured as next week’s special? Engaging your patrons via active participation will help your customers build a connection with your venue and accept dining there as a desirable habit. Bring in a Temp Star Chef Many faithful viewers of Iron Chef America were shocked when they tuned into an episode where Alton Brown took over The Chairman’s tasks since Mark Dacascos was busy high stepping the night away on Dancing with the Stars. Your star head chef may have to be AWOL on some occasions, so instead of temporarily promoting a sous chef and hoping none of your diners notice, why not invite a well-known local chef to pinch hit? Your diners may be thrilled to read in your email newsletter that they can experience a different star chef’s take on your fabulous recipes! Try a Little Good Eats Science Alton Brown of course is justly famous for his Good Eats series where he takes light hearted forays into the chemical constitution of a roux or analyzes the precise technique required to keep calamari from turning into rubber bands. Your diners may appreciate a little science with their email newsletters, perhaps focusing on your chef’s applications of molecular gastronomy or explaining why some garlic containing recipes change color to blue or pink due to the release of an enzyme that forms the colored pigments. Counter Bad Publicity with Apology & Evidence Surviving bad publicity can be the most challenging obstacle any restaurant can overcome. When Ina Garten informed a sick child from the Make A Wish Foundation she didn’t have the time to cook with him and was roundly slammed by critics, she quickly changed her mind and extended the offer. Similarly, when Marc Forgione was called out by a food critic for loudly humiliating his kitchen staff in the middle of service right after becoming the newest Iron Chef, a little contrition went a long way. If your restaurant has gotten slammed due to customer service, food quality or cleanliness issues, the best process is to immediately make clear and well publicized changes promoted in your email newsletters. Sometimes the bad publicity can be nothing more than a rumor, such as the recent fake story doing the rounds that Paula Deen had committed suicide. If your restaurant is falsely accused of serving long-dead lobsters or having rat droppings in corners, the best thing you can do is to include photos of your thriving and active crustaceans waltzing around your tank and close up images of your impeccably clean kitchen areas in your email newsletters. Special event programs on the Food Network can outdraw the major broadcast networks in the ratings game. Any marketing method that achieves that sort of success is certainly worth emulating in your restaurant’s email campaigns!