The underestimated importance of owned channel creativity

The underestimated importance of owned channel creativity

As we head towards 2024, owned media holds an incredibly important strategic role within any content strategy, all driven by great creativity, says Boldspace co-ceo Nick Ford-Young.

But don’t let it feel like an arduous, time-consuming task that you simply keep ticking over; turn it into an integral driver for growth.

Whilst there must be balance across channels and an integrated approach is always advised - there are ways to approach ‘owned’ which will heavily benefit your brand. And with budgets tight, (particularly digital) paid media strategies and ROIs feeling volatile, expensive, and tricky to optimise, a resurgence towards brand building over performance marketing, and earned media strategies never an absolute guarantee - here are a few top tips to make your ‘owned’ sweat for you.

Website is still a crucial shop window

Modern user journeys will very likely involve a website visit to gather information, gauge trust, connect emotionally and validate the brand. It’s totally in your control, so dial up the creativity to make it ‘you’ and make it outstanding.

From Michael Kors’ chic elegance, to sports fan token brand Socios which immerses you into the fan experience they stand for rather than describing it, to Tyrells Crisps – a charming and wonky home-made site that reflects the brand's character and taste credentials.

Owned channels are brand beacons

Owned channels, alongside earned media, serve as beacons for controlling, shifting, and evolving brand narratives, especially as audiences grow and follower numbers scale. This applies for both your commercial audiences and showcasing your culture to future hires. Craft a constant narrative.

Many brands use social to this effect, for example, LEGO on TikTok, which reflects its creativity through all comms. 

Or giants like Nestle (B2C) or Accenture (B2B) on LinkedIn strike a great content balance between corporate narratives and human/creative stories.

Blend business and personal branding

Support owned business brand communications with personal brand communications. Individual/employee communications, when managed strategically, hugely amplify brand building efforts. Hire against a great set of behaviours and encourage your team members’ creativity to flow.

From Richard Branson as a beacon for Virgin and anything he posts online to an employee of Boldspace who proactively writes anecdotes and updates about life at the agency.

Structure messaging with guidelines

Brand guidelines, content frameworks and creative playbooks are essential structures for nurturing owned followings. Ensure engaging, cohesive messaging for rich growth by making sure the parameters are strictly set.

While it is difficult to share guidelines and content frameworks of our clients, the hospitality industry, in general, is an example where multiple properties in multiple countries organise a brand tone of voice and experience with one document: how customer service teams talk, how social media carries the same voice, the content pillars and themes that they have the authority to speak about which guide all owned content.

Manufacture momentum and buzz

Leverage owned channels to build buzz, momentum, and validation for your brand. From awards to team growth, use human/emotive messaging and maintain a sense of momentum, even if it requires a bit of spin.

Oatly is a great B2C example of this, it has always created its own story – user testimonials, complaints, NPD, it is always an excuse to spin the story back around to them. Boldspace as a smaller B2B example, has also raced to 6,500 followers in three years by creating a steady, varied flow of buzz.

Utilise ‘face-to-face’ as an owned channel

Treat face-to-face interactions as owned channels. Build a united, engaged, distinctive team that will organically shape your brand through every interaction.

David Symington, VP, marketing and communications for Ticketmaster Sport, recently shared this example with us, that as an events business, as well as a technology business, face-to-face at events is a huge opportunity to bring the brand to life, particularly for B2B.

Quality drives reach

Quality drives reach through owned channels. 

Don’t resign ‘reach’ as a metric simply for paid and earned media. If a post is great it will gain organic traction. If a customer experience is great it will drive a recommendation. Make owned content engaging to expand beyond existing followings. Make it good enough.

Airbnb emphasising its positioning of belonging anywhere, for example here on Instagram.

Strategy drives relevance, creativity drives resonance

Generate relevance through owning a strategic creative territory (your ‘bold space'), working from a clear Brand House (key statements and reasons to believe) and compelling Tone of Voice guide. Resonance will follow as your team will be able to be wildly creative whilst all remaining on the same page. ‘How’ you say it is just as important as ‘what’ you say.

Crocs, whose relevance and creativity all come from one space (seen here and here), is a very deliberate repositioning in the market. This has changed its paid, owned, and earned because it knows inside and out who they are and what they stand for.

Fine tune your channels

Plan each channel's role meticulously, ensuring they ladder up to a complete strategy. There are a lot of channel choices so define the purpose of those right for you to create a cohesive overall approach. Follow the plan, test, track, learn and fine tune.

Measure holistically

Measure owned channels not in isolation but in conjunction with paid and earned channels. Understand the cumulative impact on other channels. For instance, CRM, events and podcasts might indirectly drive branded search.  

And that's it! 

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