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Think BR: Time to move away from channel branding

It's more important than ever for TV brands to be clear and distinct, writes Aporva Baxi, creative director, DixonBaxi.

Aporva Baxi, creative director, DixonBaxi

Aporva Baxi, creative director, DixonBaxi

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Audiences have always looked for great content. That need won’t change, but where, how and when they can get it from has changed and will continue to do so.

The way in which we access content has become fragmented and diverse. Interactive and broadcast can be seen as one but the rules about creating a destination that people love, trust and look forward to hearing from still hold true and the delivery has to be pervasive and multi-dimensional.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to be distinct, clear and definite, especially for TV brands.

However, many TV brands are notoriously weak at branding and can suffer from a lack of rigour around how they frame their brand in the public’s eye.

The approach, and certainly the audience profiles, can be very generic and lack the insight needed to create a genuine brand spirit.

Many channels find it hard to establish an editorial standpoint when it comes to its choice of content because they haven’t looked at their brand with the same intelligence and creative drive often seen in other industries.

That creates a problem, as TV channels are competing with the lifestyle of the viewer - the games they play, the way they want to view TV, when and where they demand it, the rolling conversations they create and the speed with which they jump from topic to topic.

The channel brand can get lost in this melee, leaving the show or talent to become the catalyst for the audience’s attention.

There are of course exceptions; Channel 4, HBO and the BBC have very strong cultural resonance, however most lack the bite of personality to cut through. As an industry we need to move the conversation to branding and not 'channel branding’.

The UK is well placed culturally to do this as we’re very band aware. Unfortunately in many instances it is a fait accompli, where the creative agency is provided with a direction rather than working with a client to develop a cohesive approach to the channel’s core and its brand message, tone and creative execution.

In our recent work with UKTV’s Yesterday although we were unable to start right at the beginning, it was very much about transforming the channel programming strategy to create a fundamentally new experience for viewers.

The positioning was rooted in a specific idea, 'entertainment inspired by history', with a creative tone that needed to feel vivid and immersive.

This new positioning inspired a distinct attitude and point of view that challenges the way we feel about history - it's much more about the moment and bringing the viewer into the heart of the story.

The brand idents we created were therefore more interpretive than literal in expressing the notion of history. In each ident, the imagery and sound design create a mood that can take on different meanings for each viewer. We wanted to make the identity iconic with the ability to evolve over time as the brand develops.

At its best TV pulls people together, it's a powerful, shared experience that builds great momentum behind content or live events. This enjoyment of shared experience creates a huge opportunity for TV channels as content brands.

When branded properly, channels can become cultural icons that transcend the medium of television. Cultural impact is important because this is what creates meaning for people and helps them identify with each other.

This in turn creates a dialogue with audiences over time, rather than just providing passing moments of entertainment, which in turn creates loyalty - a place that people can come back to anytime, anywhere.

Aporva Baxi, creative director, DixonBaxi


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