Are digital publishing brands doing enough for brand building?

Co-blogger: Gaurav Bansal twitter: @gzbgb and Utkarsh S. Batra twitter: Utkarsh Batra

“Close-up of a tablet laid out on a newspaper” by Matthew Guay on Unsplash

Digital publishing brands today are caught in ‘The War of Views’ armed with the 3 most potent weapons — Breaking/Sensational/Unique (stories). But these are the general tools that every player in the category possess. There is no differentiation whatsoever. Every publication starts with a vision — to bring forth a unique perspective, to be a voice of reason, to unearth hidden stories, to be the torch bearer and more. But all this takes a backseat.

It all boils down to winning ‘The Game of Trending’. Where success is dependent on the eyeballs you garner, through click bait push and hacking algorithms. To do just enough to get noticed in the cluttered digital space. To get a piece of the pie by being in the race of trending. This is evident from almost all digital publishers getting 80% their traffic from Social Media.

This approach, however, does not guarantee brand love / loyalty (organic traffic). To achieve that is an uphill task. And the most important as well, if the brand intends to grow beyond the initial spike in numbers, that gets stagnant over a period.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Now imagine a scenario, where a commodity is being sold in a retail store and is solely dependent on the POSM. Do you think it will sell? Yes, it will. But do you think it will grow? I doubt. Because no one will ask for it. It will sell because it exists in the space where such commodities are sold. Not because there is a need created for it beyond its function.

That’s why it is important to create differentiation, by creating a positive perception around the brand. And perceptions are created and propagated by creating stories around your product. Telling the consumer, how you are different?

But in the case of publishing brands, ‘Stories’ are the product. So, your product (stories) will end up creating perception about your brand. And in this scenario, it becomes most critical to steer your brand perception in the desired direction.

Either by creating a focused product strategy which defines your personality like ‘Vice’, or de-burden your online content by creating a focused brand communication and bringing it alive beyond the retail space, beyond digital.

In either of the 2 approaches, defining brand tenets sharply is the key. The WHY, The WHAT & The HOW. (The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek)

Hence, more efforts must be made in the direction of building brands in digital publishing category to win in the long term.

But then, there is always another point-of-view, and it should exist. As you always need a Messi for a Ronaldo to shine (will dive deep in this some other time ;).