The power of branding

How does theatre’s branding rate?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to spend the next 1000 words or so talking about the footy but if you have Foxtel’s sports channels, I encourage you to take a look at the Dally M Awards on Tuesday night. Strange as it may sound, rugby league gets it right with this concept and the format is something I am pushing for when it comes to the Helpmann Awards in the years to come.

I digress.

Eight months ago I was appointed to a management position at the company I work for. It was an opportunity to grow and the one thing I worked on improving for the organisation was its branding. For example, I set up mobile offices. At the first one, we had about three people come up – but it was still worth it. At the second (in a better location) we had about 30 or 40 come up and chat to us.

However, it was those who didn’t come up and say hello that really mattered. They still noticed us and hence, we’re in their minds. It’s the power of branding and it’s a pretty simple exercise to be honest with you, though exactly how it is executed can have a massive impact on the end result.

Sometimes you’ll sit down and watch television and question the motive of an advertisement. “That wouldn’t make me by Coke,” you might say. Truth is that the aim of the advertiser has been achieved because you’ve noticed it and their branding is in your face.

So, in terms of theatre, how does our branding rate?

On Friday night, the city of Sydney went green for the season of Wicked at the Capitol Theatre. A similar thing happened in Melbourne. In addition, every Sydney show seems to advertise on the back of taxi cabs and the advertising budgets for shows across the country are strong, competitive and smart.

Put simply, the shows do it well but does theatre as an industry have a strong branding presence.

In my view, no.

It seems that we’re content to let the shows and companies implement their own marketing campaigns, and the result there is that we’re advertising to the same people. We’re appealing to ‘theatre lovers’ or those converted to the joy of live entertainment – and not necessarily to new audiences.

How is theatre travelling in terms of new audiences?

I know we have different bodies looking after the interests of live entertainment but what we need is a governing body that seriously looks at the branding of the industry itself and ways to attract new people.

If you’re a rugby league fan (so I lied about this column being about footy) you can be a subscriber to one particular team, but the benefits across the entire sport are quite huge. Perhaps we need something similar in theatre – a governing body that provides benefits to members for all shows, both straight theatre and musicals.

I know it’s a long process but I just have my doubts about the branding of the industry itself and whether or not it’s being pushed the way it should be.

Food for thought.

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