THE VALUE OF INTANGIBLES
Long before Comic-Con and Lionsgate announced their new subscription video on-demand service, Comic-Con HQ, the two cultural giants enlisted our expertise to help position the platform in a way that would meet the needs and exceed the expectations of their passionate and devoted fan base.
Our primary goal was two-fold, with both quantitative and qualitative components, concrete and abstract applications. On the one hand, we had the more immediate, fundamental goal of determining the most valuable positioning strategy for Comic-Con HQ. Recognizing the glutted hose of content that is today’s streaming and on-demand market, we began developing a plan to help Comic-Con maximize the potential to bring a truly unique and personalized element to a platform that has become largely homogenized, while extending the scope of the Comic-Con brand to the culture at large.
In order to position Comic-Con HQ as the center of a brand ecosystem with multiple points of entry, we had to bring the larger emotional themes of the Comic-Con culture to life in the streaming platform.
We also had our sights set on the more elusive task of evolving Comic-Con’s brand equity into something altogether greater—a lofty goal in itself, considering the convention’s inimitable status as the definitive space for fans of genre entertainment to express and unite over their passion for all things comics and pop culture. In order for the brand to attain an even greater cultural significance than it already has, this new platform would have to be positioned as the center of a brand ecosystem with multiple points of entry, so we immediately set out to develop a plan that would bring the larger emotional themes of the Comic-Con culture to life in its streaming platform. After all, Comic-Con HQ is the only platform out there that exists because of the consumers’ very own fan-fueled passions.
This partnership was truly an exercise in positioning: Because the SVOD market has become so saturated, brands must be very clear about exactly what they have to offer in order to differentiate themselves to consumers who already face innumerable choices when it comes to streaming content. With this in mind, we devised a dynamic research strategy that would address the question, “Why Comic-Con HQ?” — grounding the service in the most ideal position for their consumers while also ensuring future growth.
Positioning Comic-Con HQ as a cross-spectrum, pop-culture SVOD platform capable of delivering the communal passion for and knowledge of Comic-Con users’ own terms also meant redefining the SVOD model. In order to gain a true understanding of what consumers expect out of a Comic-Con SVOD service, we conducted extensive, tactical research—through focus groups, online surveys, on-street interviews, comic book store fieldwork, and more—for a brand analysis to end all brand analyses.
Before we began developing and positioning the brand identity, we took the additional step of reviewing our findings in a vibrant think-tank session with our Culture Junkies, a passionate group of marketing industry experts who have their fingers on the pulse of what really matters to various consumer groups. In a lively conversation over dinner, our Culture Junkies—who run the gamut from artists and musicians to writers, marketers and beyond—validated our key findings about the role Comic-Con plays in culture. The general consensus? Comic-Con is the safe place for a diverse group of fans to gather in celebration of their authentic selves (even if those authentic selves are best presented from behind a Darth Vader mask or in full steampunk garb). As a space that thrives on culture collisions, Comic-Con is the perfect place for people to try on new hats and explore their deepest passions in a supportive, celebratory environment. After the stimulating and enlightening Culture Junkies gathering, we walked away with one key word at the front of our minds: PASSION.
To get on the level of hardcore fans, we immersed ourselves in the Comic-Con experience and let our geek-flags fly.
This same comprehensive research and analysis process plays a vital role in the work we do for all of our clients. After all, in order to offer the most valuable solutions to the unique challenges our clients face in today’s disruptive market, we must first develop a robust understanding of their brand ecosystem from all sides. Our extensive research efforts illuminated the ethos of Comic-Con, which, in turn, reflected what fans actually wanted from Comic-Con HQ. In short: We established what would belong, and what would not. The thought leadership we provided on brand identity and positioning went on to inform not only the eventual name and logo exploration, but also the brand architecture of the platform itself. The final result becoming the distribution mechanism for publishing to other channels and for repurposing modular content for other outlets, merging digital and physical experiences to form a vast brand ecosystem with multiple points of entry. Oh, and we also had an awesome time celebrating the best aspects of entertainment with people who, like us, take pride in calling themselves geeks.
Over the course of our work with Comic-Con, the iterative PROCESS that has come to define and differentiate our expertise actually became the PRODUCT that added value to our client’s brand. In many ways, what we learned about Comic-Con actually served to illuminate our strengths, as it allowed us to apply on a macro scale the process we typically have the opportunity to do for our clients only at the micro level. Harnessing the intangible qualities that breed brand loyalty is the only way brands can stay relevant in a culture that doesn’t stand still. As the Comic-Con brand continues to grow and evolve, our research will serve as a launchpad from which to influence the culture of its fan base for years to come.