Well-known webs get brand-new look

Strong ID vital in Asia as channels proliferate

SINGAPORE — Branding is moving from buzzword to harsh reality as Asia’s TV market matures.

Digital and other new media platforms mean far more channels, all fighting to establish an identity that audiences will remember.

Not even established international webs can be complacent.

National Geographic Channel’s global overhaul is being fine-tuned for Asia. Discovery has repositioned its lifestyle channels and news channel BBC World is working to maintain its strong position in India.

“It’s important to refresh the brand and to develop new brand strategies and initiatives in light of the competitive environment in Asia,” says Pauline Goh, veep marketing at National Geographic Channel (NGC) Asia.

“When we launched NGC in Asia in July 1998, we had a lot of brand building to do,” she says. “People knew us from the National Geographic Magazine, but in Asia, they had not really come in close contact with the brand… NGC has taken the brand to a new level by engaging with our audiences across Asia — including PR roadshows with our National Geographic explorers, filmmakers and photographers, on-ground exhibits, school programs, interactive contests, and Asia filmmaking initiatives.”

NGC is refreshing the channel’s look with branding agency Bruce Dunlop Associates and intends to roll out the first phase of new packaging in the next few months.

At Discovery, veep marketing & communications Kevin Dickie says that the switch to digital TV is another important reason for branding.

“Studies show strong brands drive platform growth, particularly in the transition from analog to digital where consumers need to see the value of the enhanced services,” says Dickie.

Discovery Lifestyle Networks has just launched core brand Discovery Travel & Living, to be joined later this year by Discovery Real Time and Discovery Home & Health.

“We want to communicate that our brands are part of the Discovery family. But we also want to emphasize a range of attributes that do not apply to the Discovery Channel brand,” Dickie explains.

And in the highly competitive news environment, BBC World is constantly building on its strong heritage.

“There has been an enormous growth in the number of domestic news channels serving India in the past couple of years, but their news agendas are very different from the global perspective of BBC World,” says Kevin Young, senior press officer at BBC World.

“We have our own unique selling points. In India we produce current affairs and financial programs such as ‘HARDtalk’ and ‘India Business Report’ specifically for that market. But while branding has not necessarily become a bigger priority as a result, it is important that viewers and potential viewers are aware of what BBC World has to offer.”

Young adds that brand values go far deeper than aesthetics. “The BBC has been broadcasting for 82 years, and has built up an enormous global audience that trusts our ability to be accurate and balanced. This relationship could never have been established solely by a single on-air look or logo.”

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