I am now no longer available on a Saturday night, until approximately two weeks before Christmas. My favourite reality TV show is back on ITV and I can’t wait to see which extremely ‘talented’ individual will actually have the ‘X Factor’ this year. Although my enthusiasm waned slightly when Simon Cowel left, as he was the show’s main USP, Louis remains there and the weird people from around the country are still flocking to arenas to ‘sing’ their hearts out, so I’ve given the show the benefit of the doubt. I even intend to tune in religiously on a Saturday night, with pizza and pop corn, ready to be entertained.
Upon watching the latter series, and embarking upon this latest one, it’s become apparent that the X Factor can be really helpful for your business. Bare with me here, but watching the first episode, the X Factor brand is impeccable and we can learn some fantastic branding tips from the show, that people love to hate.
1. Mission Statement
X Factor has a clear mission, everyone knows what it is (a ‘talent’ show), why it’s on (to make Cowel a few more million pounds) and what the show hopes to achieve (finding the mythical ‘X Factor’). Everyone understands what the X Factor is about, there are no surprises, save a few tantrums and affairs, and this results in high audience figures. People tune in weekly, to see their favourite contestant sing a song they know, and then watch someone’s dreams get shattered as they are voted off at the end of the episode. People like a show they can trust to deliver what they want, and the same can be said for brands. If you maintain your message and focus throughout everything that you do, then your audience will know what to expect from working with you. As long as you keep up to this image, and don’t deliver any unwanted surprises, your audience will begin to visit frequently when they want what you deliver, and will trust your brand as you deliver it in the same manner, every time.
2. Understanding your audience
X Factor producers know what the audience want from their show, and they deliver. They know that individuals want to see their favourite contestant, gradually developing their talent and personality throughout the competition, jumping over hurdles, overcoming adversity until they reach the live shows, where they sing a better song, more confidently week-by-week. For your brand, knowing your audience is essential, you need to know what they want from your business, and then you need to deliver it. Meet and exceed their expectations, and they will increase loyalty and confidence in what you do and how you do it.
3. Stand out from the crowd
On the X Factor, often those that go furthest aren’t those with the strongest singing voice. The X Factor knows that its contestants need a USP that distinguishes them from the flock. This could be a unique dress sense, an unusual look, or a great personality. Often these features get them through the competition further than merely their voices would allow. You need to find out what makes your brand unique and different, and use this as a focus for all your sales and marketing. What makes you different is a reason that people will choose your brand over others, so keep emphasising why you are great, and why they should choose you.
4. Emphasise what you do well.
Performers, although often criticised for doing the same number every time, focus on what they do well. If they absolutely nail a ballad (Mary Byrne) then the likelihood is, their judge will have them singing one week after week to keep them in the competition. The up beat, jokey tracks will be taken by the comedy contestant (Jedward or Wagner) along with an abundance of scenery, and set pieces. Your brand message needs to emphasise what you do best, as this is your selling point. Brands that stand out are the ones with an authoritative tone that have consistently portrayed their expertise at what they do.
5. Be able to take criticism
Like the ‘Pink’ woman, who reacted badly to criticism of her voice and style last week, and the various contestants who have had passionate mums and dads walk on stage fighting their precious offspring’s corner, going a bit mad when you’re criticised, only really works to increase TV ratings. Where your brand is concerned, you need to be able to take a hit. I’m not saying deal with abusive people lying down, just be able to take a little constructive criticism. Especially with the growth of social media, brands have to be more diplomatic when it comes to dealing with complaints. You need to show your audience that your brand appreciates feedback, and goes out of its way to take into account what users think, and make amendments, as long as they aren’t being unreasonable.
Giveaways and competitions get people talking about the X Factor (along with all the drama on screen and behind the scenes). They have competitions running throughout the show to get people engaging with, and talking about it. Although you may not have the budget to give away an all-expenses paid trip to the Big Apple, having a few branded promotional items and competitions can really engage your audience, and keep them thinking and talking about you, even after they’ve left your office.
7. Social networks
The X Factor promotes its hashtag throughout the live shows, and has dedicated Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and Google Plus sites to share news and chat to fans directly. Although it’s a scarily open network for business, it can be a really great way to build your business and gain a dedicated and interested following of loyal fans.
The X Factor has built a strong brand over a number of years, using all these methods to build a reputation and a substantial following. This isn’t just relevant for a TV talent show either, but can be taken and applied to all elements of all businesses to succeed in building a successful brand.
Isn’t it amazing what you can learn from a TV talent show?