How Media Brands Explain Who We Are, and More Importantly, Who We Want to Be

How Media Brands Explain Who We Are, and More Importantly, Who We Want to Be NEWCOWLESSIGNER.jpgBy Andy Cowles

Last weekend I witnessed a couple of friends in London discussing the nature of their relationship by which shelter title they preferred. For the record, Richard was Elle Deco, Annie was Living Etc. Whatever you may think, both these brands are so well drawn that readers can use them as a shorthand to express deep seated feelings that otherwise might take weeks to uncover.

This exchange goes to the heart of the modern media conundrum. More so than ever before, the content is nothing compared to the point of view that surrounds it. Values, beliefs and tone of voice are the things that a reader values, and is prepared to pay for.

Living Etc and Elle Deco's content is different, but only by degree. Many of the houses and ideas in one title could appear in the other, the key is the code used to present them.

Elle-Decoration-Cover.jpgElle Deco is all about Art. No color at all in the delivery, nothing that challenges the highly refined aesthetic of the image. The typography may be bonkers, but the combination of fonts and chosen words leaves no doubt we're dealing with something THAT REALLY MATTERS.

living-etc-cover.jpgLiving Etc is a different beast entirely. An ugly beautiful logo, it delivers a jolt of color, an editorial addition to the cover picture, a disruption to the Art.

But unlike Elle Deco, this cover picture does not pretend to be "art." Rather, it's a portrait of the reader and her aspirations. She may not occupy much of the image, but the clues as to what sort of reader aspiration this brand is delivering are unmistakable. Look no further than the heel, darling.

As Annie, my Living Etc reading friend rightly observed, in the first instance, inspirational interior design content works better in print than digital. The images are bigger, the light is reflected as opposed to transmitted, and there is the opportunity to see things you're not actively searching for.

However, once you know what you want, the benefits of digital are endless. But once content is freed from the confines of print, "brand" is being eroded like never before.

In fact "brand" in general is having to adapt to new circumstances. Here's my colleague Andy Pemberton (whom you may recall as launch EIC of Blender) in Marketing, discussing the motives behind Abercrombie & Fitch removing its logo from its range.

"Research told them kids no longer want to wear clothes with logos on them. As the Wall Street Journal explained, kids preferred 'cheaper unmarked gear that they can use to put together their own individual styles.'"

The risks of this trend impacting on content are not hard to see. The Economist's definition of a brand is to "assure customers about the quality of a product or service." With content, that job is now increasingly undertaken by the phenomena of social sharing.

So for editorial brands this means everything boils down to Trust: how to make it, and how to maintain it.

I'll be writing about how to do that right here on first thing tomorrow morning. Stay tuned!

Related Stories:

OH NO! Who's Taken Our Car?
"Elitist, Narrow-minded, and With An Aesthetic Corridor No Wider Than My Middle Finger"
Possibly the Best Airline Magazine in the World
Insanely Beautiful
Type Size Is Your Friend
The Genius That Is Carla Frank
How Do You Compete With a Billion Dollar Logo?

blog comments powered by Disqus