4.2 Research Question 1 (RQ1): What is the role of brand management within
4.2.3 Development of a media brand
127 (Wolff 2006; Förster 2011) countering some of the current academic discussion
which questions the on-going relevance of having a strong corporate media brand (Chan-Olmsted and Shay 2015). If anything, the data indicates that the corporate media brand is more relevant not less.
In summary, the data supports the strong body of existing evidence which relays both the virtues of creating a strong corporate media brand and for creating media brands which sit independently, yet connected, under the corporate media brand. The
branded house architectural concept is very much apparent. It also clarifies any existing doubt that brand management in UK media organisations has progressed beyond being about short term tactical initiatives, and the creation of media brands is very much a strategic remit (Chan-Olmsted 2011; Siegert et al. 2015) and is not showing any sign of diminishing in importance. This insight aligns to the conceptual framework, supporting the notion that brand management involves structured practices.
128 This can be seen from the following respondents:
“being quite responsive to the environment around you makes (develop) the brand stronger”
Marketing Director, Sky
“evolving (develop) it [the brand] as our audience changes, as the music TV viewing landscape change as people’s consumption of music changes… our programming has changed (develop) a lot in the subject matter that we cover, based on changing tastes and interests and values held by the audience to sort of things like education, future employment, equality, finance… I think our values have probably changed (develop) a little bit. We’ve kind of responded and changed and evolved (develop)”
Head of Production, 4Music
“previously the brand values had been developed locally in the UK. So some of the values (brand identity) that we had, they didn’t translate in quite the same way, with quite the same sentiment for our offices, in the Middle East for example.
So they did work on (develop) making sense for the entire company globally”
Senior Strategist, RAPP
In addition to identifying the role of brand management in steering media brands against a backdrop of change, it was also clear from the data that brand
management was used to reinforce media brand identity. From the data this was seen to be done by the majority of UK media organisations using both a range of planned communication methods and also by the development of programmes, content and services. To a lesser extent some UK media organisations were also involved in co-branding initiatives to build media brands.
Communication was identified from the data to play a key role in both the development of the brand identity both internally (to employees) and other stakeholders. The following respondents support this:
Firstly in relation to internal communication:
“there was a PowerPoint deck (communicate) and how the layers build, this is what we stand for, here’s a proposition, here’s how we communicate externally here’s the values (brand identity), this is how it impacts the clients we choose to work with, the people we choose to hire the way we recruit. And then there was a mood film (communicate)”
Senior Strategist, RAPP
“So on the back of our passes, it tells (communicates) us what our values are”
Senior Product Manager, BBC iplayer
“the marketing team put together a series of documents (communicate) about what the brand is, what the tone of voice is.”
Head of Production, 4Music
And planned external communications:
“we are lucky enough to have an internal marketing team and a full creative team.
They do promos, brand identity. New brand idents 6 months ago. Most of the outward communication (communication) about the brand are brand idents that sit between the programmes. They are around the core channel 4 principles.”
Head of Research, Channel 4
“in the last couple of years Mindshare has become a blueprint as a brand. They do annual events (communicate) that are part of ‘who they are’. They get
different media owners in the building and it’s a mini conference (communicate) and a party at the same time.”
Senior Account Planner, Mindshare
Secondly, the development of programmes and content which aligned to the media brand was identified from the data as ways in which brands were built. This can be seen from the following example:
“Our brand defining (strengthen) shows are peppered through the schedule.”
130 Head of Research, Channel 4
Co-branding was identified by a small number of UK media organisations as a brand building approach to sustain and strengthen their media brands:
“we’ve worked quite extensively with brands on co-productions, that process of making those programmes goes both ways, so we’re trying to help reflect their brand accurately and they’re also impacting or influencing the way that we’re representing (develop) our own brand.”
Head of Production, 4Music
Overall, the data revealed that brand management was key in the development of media brands, both as a way to ensure relevance in a dynamic market environment and also to convey and strengthen brand perception.
The data supports the existing understanding from branding literature that
approaches to brand management have adapted to evolve to a changing market environment (Low and Fullerton 1994; Shocker et al.1994; Biehal and Sheinin 1998).
It adds depth to this by identifying ways in which media brands are responding to the current contextual changes (Jones 2012). In particular this research adds pertinent knowledge for UK media organisations who are having to adapt to such a dynamic environment (Oliver 2018; Lowe 2016; Küng 2017) yet where there is limited empirical research exploring branding in this context (Malmelin and Moisander 2014).
The data showed that both internal and external communication methods were used to a build media brands. This corroborates with existing academic knowledge which identifies not only the importance of external communication, but also highlights the
131 remit of internal branding and the role of employees within this (Tosti and Stotz 2001; Hatch and Schultz 2003). Corporate branding is a means of aligning the strategic vision of the company with its organisational culture and image (Hatch and Schultz 2003) and as part of this alignment, internal branding and communication is key. Examples from the data, including having the media brand values stamped on employees identity cards, showed internal branding practices.
Communicating with employees was evident from the data, supporting existing studies which identified internal communication as a key mechanism used in internal branding (Punjari and Wilson 2017). As internal communication around branding can help build knowledge, passion and loyalty amongst employees (Papasolomou and Vrontis 2006) the data can indicate that this technique is being used by UK media organisations to enhance resonance around their media brands. The importance of engaging employees and getting the right approach to internal communications is understood within a wide body of branding literature, yet there is no evidence of existing research within the context of media organisations. Therefore this study adds insight into this under researched area.
The structured approach adopted by the majority of UK media organisations in the development of their brands, is consistent with existing brand management
knowledge (De Chernatony 2010) and aligns with the conceptual framework of this research. Developing and building a media brand by utilising a planned range of communication aligns to the large body of existing literature on brand management (Keller 2009; De Chernatony 2010; Kapferer 2012). Likewise the identification from the data that certain media brands were developed by building an array of supporting content vehicles, such as programmes and indents, supports existing knowledge
132 about the nuanced nature of media branding (Siegert 2008; Lishka et al. 2018). Co- branding as a brand building device for media brands is an area of limited
investigation (Chan-Olmsted and Shay 2015) yet offers great opportunity for differentiation (Baumann 2015) so insight from this data adds further richness to understanding the use of co-branding in media brand management.
Aris and Burghin (2009) made the point that the development of a brand would have to become a key skill for media organisations; this data indicates that this has been borne out and that brand management is now a capability (Oliver 2014) very much in place within the majority of UK media organisations.