As its best, the journey of a branding initiative highlights a news media company’s essense, as well as that of their customers. During the Brainsnacks session of INMA World Congress of News Media on Tuesday, four media companies shared how that journey — plus some creative magic — changed their position in their markets.
Dainik Bhaskar (India)
Dainik Bhaskar gave all it had to become No. 1 media company within a 18-month period in the Indian state of Bihar. It’s goal was to be the leading media provider in all of the state’s 38 districts in an effort to unbundle its rates and raise revenue.
At the end of great effort, it landed at No. 2. There were many victories, but it wasn’t No. 1.
“There were two ways to go,” Kaacon Sethi, chief marketing officer at the company, said. “Either we are going to be in despair or we were going to be be true to our DNA and say, ‘Let’s look at what we’ve got and disrupt.’”
Dainik Bhaskar chose the latter — a decision turned genius by a clever marketing idea: The Doosra.
“The Doosra actually means No. 2,” Sethi explained to the non-cricket fans attending World Congress. “It’s when you want to have an outcome that is very different than what is starring you in the face. The technique is highly respected. The moment we heard the word, I knew we had it.”
It worked. Readers and advertisers rallied behind supporting The Doosra, the underdog.
“We had the attention of the country,” Sethi said. “We shifted the focus from the legacy players in the market to this new challenger.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (United States)
At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a rebranding campaign has changed the look of the masthead and unified the brand across print, digital, and social. As part of those changes, it launched a marketing initiative called Press On, but Amy Chown, vice president/marketing, said it is more than just a marketing slogan: “It anchors a strategic repositioning of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”
The Press On campaign is a powerful way to present the changes the AJC is making as well as a reminder of the kind of work the company is committed to.
“We need to reinforce the credibility of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution enterprise across everything we do because we are asking people to pay for journalism. And that journalism sits on everything we do.”
AJC research found local journalists are seen as passionate, dedicated professionals who have a calling to follow the facts.
“Journalists are seen as guardians of the free press,” Chown said. “And they are seen as being more important than ever to combat the tidal waves of disinformation that’s out there.”
The campaign featured 11 of AJC’s journalists who work in areas that subscribers find most essential: politics, investigations, social causes, sports, and more. Each journalist wrote a personal letter to the community, sharing why they became a journalist, why their work matters, and why they continue to Press On.
Although the campaign is still in its infancy — it launched April 9 — the early metrics are positive.
The Hindustan Times was already considering an overhaul of its image and branding to reach a younger audience. But as the country went into lockdown, the newspaper became even more committed to the refresh.
“Given the current environment, we wanted to infuse optimism and positivity to our readers,” said Aparna Bhawal, vice president/marketing for Hindustan Times. “It’s almost like a promise that we’re still here and it was a counterpoint to what was happening environmentally.”
The company unveiled an “all-new Hindustan Times for an all-new consumer,” with a focus on Millennials. Historically, the nearly 100-year-old newspaper has skewed toward an older audience, but was surprised when market research revealed that Millennials — ages 20 to 35 — comprise a much larger market share than the company had suspected.
“Our combined reach on our print and digital platforms is almost 80 million readers,” Bhawal said. “And in that print readership, 47% came from the Millennial segment.”
Recognising the value of that market, Hindustan Times refreshed its look and feel with them in mind.
Its campaign, “First Voice. Last Word.” was designed to emphasise how HT cuts through clutter and fake news to provide content quickly on all platforms while ensuring all sides of the story are covered. To establish itself as the voice of this generation, HT used a slam poet/stand-up artist who is also a Millennial. She became a voice for the movement and presented the journalistic mission of HT in rhyming verse — in a way that was relatable to her peers.
Media24 (South Africa)
“How do we leverage what’s available from a brand perspective in the organisation to be able to unlock value for our audiences and customers?” This is the question Tasmia Ismail, general manager/commercial at Media24, has been pondering.
Media24 needed to “bring all of the properties together to be able to unleash what we call a muti-faceted integrated media solution for our customers,” she said. This integrated media solution provided very valuable insights for the company, and employees really took it on as a challenge.
“Customers have new news,” she said. “How do we bring these entities together to be able to deliver a tailored solution, and therefore placing the audience in the center of everything we do.”
Ismail showed a survey finding “newspapers and news Web sites are still seen as the best source for accurate information,” which means brand safe environments still remain a trusted and credible source for informations for users to associate with.
“In order to sustain it for much longer, they needed to look at how they serve the audience, how to they retain the advertiser reach? What kind of solution do you create when this is happening to a brand?”
Newspaper companies faced problems because they were circulating print in the wrong regions, which led to decreased audience engagement. Their solution was to distribute content to appropriate strategic regions and create a free distributed daily print. The outcome from this was a hyper-connected brand extension, satisfied readers and customers, and a new revenue stream and profitability.
The World Congress continues Tuesdays and Thursdays through May. Register here for future and recordings of past sessions.