Streaming services that want to survive the predicted coming culling should focus on building strong brand codes, said Charlie Mayer, executive creative director, Red Bee Creative, in a virtual session that preceded the Promax Europe 2023 virtual awards ceremony on Monday.
“If we’re in a fight for survival as creatives and marketers, what weapons lie in our armory?” asked Mawer, noting that some of those weapons include strong brand codes. “A brand code is a distinctive style that distinguishes one brand from the next.”
Using the bold red and yellow of McDonald’s as an example, Mawer said, “the moment people detect your brand assets, neurons start to fire. Emotions and senses triggered by assets … help forge your brand in your consumer’s brain. Different facets of your brand leach on to different facets of their spider-like memory.”
“Strong brand codes make your brand 52% more salient so surely for streamers they are important,” Mawer said.
According to UK branding expert Mark Ritson, brands should “aim for distinctiveness and differentiation” and then lean into those two things for years.
“Don’t play with anything for the first 40 years. Reinforce that code over and over again. Make sure your code is so embedded that it’s almost taken for granted,” Mawer said.
Brand codes rely on many recognizable patterns that show up often in a consumer’s life and repeat frequently.
For starters, shapes and patterns “score the highest in terms of customers remembering them,” said Mawer. Brands who successfully employ shapes and patterns in their branding include the above-mentioned McDonald’s, with its golden arches; Paramount Plus and its ever-present Paramount mountain; and ITV’s streaming spin-off, ITVX.
And, like with McDonald’s bold red and yellow, a unique color palette tends to stick with consumers.
Quirky, cute or fun characters – such as France 3’s marmots and Canal Plus’ bear – with which consumers create an association also help keep brands in the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Fox-owned streamer Tubi recently did this via the below Super Bowl commercial, starring a mildly menacing rabbit:
“Tubi didn’t just bring us those rabbits in that Super Bowl commercial – they also became the face of their YouTube, TikTok and other social media,” Mawer said.
Paramount has done something similar with its Mountain of Entertainment campaign, which features characters from its Paramount Plus streaming service gathering together on top of Paramount Mountain.
Similarly, brands also can rely on celebrities to help create sticky brand associations, such as George Clooney as the brand ambassador for Nespresso. However, brands often fail to take full advantage of this by not threading the celebrity throughout their entire brand experience.
For example, Pluto TV made good use of Drew Barrymore in a series of commercials, but when it comes to its platform, Barrymore is nowhere to be seen.
“That sense of wit and warmth should be coming through on the platform,” Mawer said. “To be a brand code, you have to align all of your signs behind your star.”
Along those lines, creating and maintaining a consistent tone of voice across your brand can also help cement your customer relationships.
“Defining your way of speaking should start with your slogan,” Mawer said. “As a medium that’s founded on the power of words, scripts and language, I don’t think we pay enough attention to it.”
One area where brands can extend their tone of voice as well as their relationships with consumers is by using “conversational marketing.” For example, NBCUniversal’s Peacock is introducing a feature called “Watch With,” which allows fans to watch and engage in programs in real time alongside their favorite talent with live Q&As via a seamless split-screen experience.
“Conversational marketing allows brands to discover what their actual human tone of voice is,” Mawer said.
Encouraging everyone to do their own “brand code health check,” Mawer said putting all of these pieces in place and locking them down “helps secure your brand and makes it more likely consumers will choose you.”