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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discussion Topic: Branding


by Georgevine Moss

Harvey Weinstein has been in the press these past few days, mostly in relation to the Weinstein Company produced “My Week with Marilyn” movie, which opened this year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

An Associated Press article written by John Carucci and featured on Yahoo! recounts the desire of Mr. Weinstein to turn his film company into a brand.

Brand examples mentioned in the article, mostly for their widely recognized logos, include facebook, twitter, Apple, and MGM. More specifically, there’s talk about facebook’s F, twitters’ T, Apple’s chipped apple and MGM’s lion.

Facebook doesn’t really have a logo though, does it? Facebook doesn’t, and twitter’s logo is the cartoon-looking flying bird which appears right after the social network’s name, not the little square light-blue icon with the letter T in it. That small square along with the dark-blue icon with the letter F in it are buttons used in almost every webpage and every blog as a simple way for people to promote content on these social networks.

This use of the icons is what made them so familiar to a wider audience. Whether you use those networks or not doesn’t matter, because if you use the internet then those two icons can’t be avoided. In that regard, twitter’s logo, or facebook’s lack of one, doesn’t seem to be that important.

On the other hand, Apple and MGM have strong logos, but are they important, and how do they work for their respective companies?

Very effectively for Apple, one could say. Every product is stamped with that chipped apple and that logo instantly renders it recognizable as an Apple product. That single image passes a variety of messages to the consumer, mainly the key attributes Apple wants to represent, sleek design and ease of use. Also high price, but, thanks to the power of the brand, that otherwise undesirable characteristic ends up being another part of the advertised package. So overall, the logo seems to play an important part for the brand.

How about MGM? How does the lion, which becomes even more memorable on film where it changes from a static image to a moving one, help the brand? Aesthetically it is a very powerful logo. It is also a highly recognizable one on its own. But is the MGM name associated with it and thus equally known and what does it represent to the consumer?

Does it pass on a specific message to the mind of the consumer other than that “this is a movie you are about to watch”? And does the casual non-OCD viewer pay any attention to anything else but the lion? Does it even matter?

Overall, one could argue that for a film studio a well-recognized logo with the effectiveness of Apple’s, wouldn’t deliver the same value for two reasons. First, most movies nowadays are made by a combination of partnerships with a bunch of other studios and second, most studios make a variety of different kind of films. Both these elements dilute the message a brand could deliver.

When it comes to branding, movies are tricky products. Genre trumps a studio’s name, star-powered names trump genre and oftentimes actors’ names substitute genre, e.g. an Adam Sandler film, instead of a comedy.

Then there are the directors’ names. Those mainly sell a specific style. A Quentin Tarantino film, a Coen Brothers film, those names, when consumers hear them, they get an idea of the style of the movie and not necessarily its genre, and that’s exactly what those names sell, the unique style attached to the specific name.

A studio like the Weinstein Company would probably be able to create a brand, which would sell a specific kind of movie style (editing, production) and not genre or the vague characterization of a “serious” film as mentioned in the Associated Press article. For instance, “The Iron Lady” could be called a “serious” film but one may not necessarily consider “My Week with Marilyn” a movie of the same level of “seriousness”.

The Weinstein name, though known, doesn’t seem to be widely associated with the movies it produces or distributes. With their films it’s very likely that consumers who watch the trailers or the posters choose to watch the movie based on whether they’re intrigued by the subject of the movie or not. The trailers though, to some extent, do show the style of a Weinstein Company film, so both the logo and the name of the company should stand out in the trailers and the posters in order to not only become recognizable, but to be associated with those films as well, until the brand is able to deliver its message (namely the style of the movie) on its own.

Perhaps that can be achieved with a small change to the existing logo, like this?

For more on branding here’s a recent article on branding myths which appeared on CBS Money Watch. Finally, you are most likely to find at least one thing about branding, which is both useful and informative, by reading these MIT Marketing lecture notes.

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