Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Future of TV branding Pt1

I hope you’ve all had a good break - I managed to do a whole lot of nothing,broken up with a trip to the ice rink and having a Turkish meal with so many courses that I needed wheelchair assistance in order to leave the restaurant....

Anyhoo - I thought I would start the year by doing a thought piece on what’s been going on in the world of motion graphics - specifically branding - and what are the emerging trends in this area.  In order to help me with this hefty piece of thinking I called up some creative directors from some of the formidable companies in this field .

There were so many different opinions on this that I have summarised what they said and have split it in to two posts so we don’t run on all day - we all know how shallow you blog readers are...

There were several key themes that came up - the first being:

Diversification: It is no surprise that any company that is going to survive has to be very diversified in terms of the kinds of jobs they deliver - Channel idents & promos certainly, but also titles, web, print design, mobile content, in-house non-broadcast films, iphone apps, video games - and films for live events and trade shows (and probably some more I havn’t thought of...).

It seems that many of you are already doing this, but what amazes me is how many different avenues there are to explore.  Tom Tagholm at 4Creative was of the opinion that we should not get distracted by how people watch content, but should continue to look at what we watch.  The delivery methods will change, but the role of branding as a marker for various curators of content (or TV channels in the old world) still has a vital role.

Location: As the UK market fragments and considers different delivery platforms, many people think that traditional TV branding still has a home in the developing countries.  Graham McCallum at Kemistry thought that countries like Brazil, The Middle East and India are taking over as suppliers of the bigger TV branding briefs. These markets are still fairly unfragmented by the internet and as their economies develop they want to be more televisually sophisticated.

On the flipside of this some people think that this is not realistic and the budgets in these developing countries are still too low -  they love our sophisticated branding, but don't want to pay UK prices.  Even more than this their style of doing business seems very unprofessional and can drive the UK branding firms mad!  Finally in the farther flung places, the time difference can make things very awkward

I think what ever countries you work with, it seems obvious that if you want to find the bigger jobs, you cannot rely on the UK - as there are many more branding companies than are needed by our terrestrial channels (some of which do a good job of looking after themselves...)

Do we still need curators...?
For Gareth Mapp of Turquoise he thinks the change in the market has been driven by money and how it is now spread very thinly between many channels.  There have been an explosion of channels on different platforms and now the idea of the TV channel is not so important because when people watch TV via web they are only interested in content and what genre they want to watch.  He thought that TV branding is just a filter for linear TV and that in a non linear world this is not always relevant.

Unsurprisingly there are others who believe that the idea of the channel as curator is very important. I think  that if we are only given the choice of choosing what we watch by genre then many good shows will fall through the cracks.  There are a lot of shows that do not fit easily into one genre, or even fit into two - for example a top BBC wildlife series could be considered prime time entertainment on BBC1 as well as a nature documentary on a specialist channel.  Tom Tagholm gave the example of having an art gallery and asking the punters to decide what should go in it - if that was the case you would only ever see predictable art and nothing new would come through....

Kevin Hill at The Council also pointed out that "event" TV (like X factor) can have a huge role to play.  People could choose to record the program, but watching it live with the rest of the nation gives an extra communal dimension.  Quite often viewers will be accessing Twitter and Facebook from their sofas at the same time. This view sees the extra online channels used as an extension of the TV rather than a replacement of it.  At the end of the day it is all about the viewer - and communication with them may vary from age group to age group, economic situation and cultural inclination for some time to come.  Kevin compared it to what has happened to cinema in the last century (decline and then rebirth as luxury experience), or what is happening with books and the internet now - we are certainly in flux and there is no set formlua yet...

more insights from the industry in part two - soon

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