Seven branding lessons from The X Factor

17th Oct 2011

As The X Factor gets down to the final handful of wannabe pop stars, Ingrid Froelich explains what branding lessons can be learned from the hit show.

1. Understand the audience

The creators of the X Factor talent-show understand something fundamental about the human condition. In many ways, the X Factor represents the rags-to-riches fairy tales we all loved as children. The glitter and glamour of stardom is the modern day fairy tale where “someone just like you and me” makes it big. It fulfills the audience’s wish to see this happen and to be part of the whole experience. 
As marketers, you have the same mandate, to know what your target audiences want and to provide that wish fulfillment as succinctly and effectively as possible. Creating an emotional connection with audiences is part of it. Today you are equipped with previously unattainable access to profiled data about your audiences. The key is to harness this data so that you can target and personalise in a way that really makes each target individual, part of your brand experience.

2. Stand out from the crowd

Some of the most popular X Factor candidates are not always the most skilled. Sometimes, they are simply the performers who “have something special”. This can be everything from a distinct look, to a likeable personality, from a specific personal singing style - to a beautiful face.
Identifying differentiators, and more specifically differentiators that matter to their crowd, is also what makes one product or company stand out from the others. This is a continual process, since those things that make your offering noticeable, will change as your competitors’ offerings change. Central to any successful brand-related initiative, is identifying what makes a brand different, likeable, beautiful or even quirky. In short - remarkable.

3. Focus on what you are good at

On the X Factor, singers are frequently criticized if their performances lack their own personal distinctiveness and are too similar to the original song. “You sound exactly like...” is not always a compliment, even if the original song was spectacular. What judges frequently look for is a personality and voice that is distinct to that one performer.
Product launches, distribution, campaigns and any other brand communications need to fit with an organisation’s voice. If its brand message is too indistinct, the impact will often fade into the background. This relates to how brands convey themselves and the personality they reflect. Again, this involves a good knowledge of the target audiences that the brand wants to reach.
Amidst marketing jargon and messages we’ve all heard before, the brands that stand out have a tone of authenticity that genuinely reflects distinct values.

4. You only have a few minutes

After hours of practice time, the participants in the X Factor end up with only a few minutes to prove themselves to the general public. For brand managers and marketing professionals these few minutes may even be reduced to seconds, amidst all of the competing content, offers, images and messages.
The short-attention span of today’s audiences make it even more important that brand messages are clear and get to the point quickly. Sometimes, this can involve creating an emotional memory or something simple and repeatable.

5. Consistency matters

There’s nothing worse than seeing the performance of someone you’ve been rooting for marred by inconsistency. When you listen to your favorite artist, while their style may not always be the same, there is something in their tone of voice or delivery that makes you a fan. Consistency covers a lot of ground. It is about repeating your distinct message, logo, voice and identity. While brands must evolve as markets change, new products are developed and campaigns are targeted, brand equity is still built on consistency and customer loyalty.

6. Taking criticism

It’s easy to pick out the stroppy over-confident performers in the X Factor. They are the ones who spurn the advice of the judges and who respond defensively even when their faults are clear to everyone in the audience.
Brand strategy too, faces criticism through social media platforms, reviews and even on the ability to generate leads. In this case, it is important not to “shoot the messenger”. This feedback on your brands values is invaluable because it shows where you need to improve the products and services you are selling. Feedback also provides insight into the way you convey your brand messages or the very messages themselves. Your greatest opportunity for improvement lies in the criticism that hurts a little (or a lot).

7. Your fans are your best advocates

X Factor fan sites are in abundance! And these fans have opinions and are ready to fight for them. These fans can even change the way the competition is judged.
Sounds familiar? Social media plans are now an integral part of most brand strategies and with good reason. They present the opportunity to mobilize the most passionate advocates and to engage them in conversations. Brand communities share values, standards and culture. These communities also provide you with a great way to listen in – and ultimately enable you to establish what is really important to the customers that you want to engage with.

Ingrid Froelich is senior marketing writer at SDL Web Content Management Solutions.


Replies (1)

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By alexisulivan
02nd Sep 2012 04:04

This is exactly what other businesses don't know about, they just start their own company and that's it. They don't even know how to make creative ideas on how to market and advertise their product. Making creative ideas and strategical campaign is a must to help establish your own brand name and product you sell. They should seek branding firm or naming agency if they don't have idea on what to do. Consulting expert will be a big help for every business, they don't only give every business true marketing values but also brand their own company to make it popular and be notice among the market trends.

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