Branding and Planning


Investing in your project’s creation and production is essential. Investing in its marketing and distribution is equally vital. The essence of your entertainment or media project’s brand and the design of its promotion set the stage for how it is perceived and received in the marketplace.

Transmedia Marketing: From Film and TV to Games and Digital Media is the definitive guide on using multiple media platforms to express your project’s brand personality, influence your target audience’s relationship to it, and create on ramps for them to intersect with it.

Brand Identity

Brand is paramount in today’s world. Do you register on your social graph as snarky or heartwarming? What reflects you better, driving a Jeep or a BMW?

Today’s audiences have an innate understanding that a brand’s public expressions, the company it keeps, and what others say about it imbue it with characteristics and attributes. So, its important to adeptly steward your entertainment or media project’s brand.

An authentic brand reflects an entity’s purpose, culture, and unique brand attributes.

A brand is a coherent set of concepts that reside in audiences’ minds. It’s the sum of: 

  • Identity—what the brand stands for
  • Image—what the brand represents
  • Aspiration—how the brand makes audiences feel

Branding is about attaining focus around your project’s public identity—its imprint, meaning, and associated values. When a brand is cohesive, it delivers an intuitive understanding, intense power, and clarity of message that crystallizes it for its audiences. Good branding is both an art and a science.

Branding your transmedia project is more critical than ever because today brands live in cluttered, cross-platform environments, often including multiple partners.

Brand Discovery


Using key branding guidelines and tools, Transmedia Marketing: From Film and TV to Games and Digital Media will help you identify and refine your brand.

Brand discovery is an inside-out process that unfolds in stages—starting with an internal understanding of the brand and ending with external expressions of it.  Imagine an iceberg in which most of its heft resides below the waterline.

  • Brand essence – its internal DNA or its core truth – is below the waterline
    • Origin story; brand pillars, values, or traits; brand personality; brand worldview or belief statement; and brand promise
  • Brand positioning – its public description of where it fits in the marketplace and points of difference that make people want to participate – is above the waterline
    • Name, logo, ads, taglines, description, Twitter page, and sizzler reels

A simple, intuitive, and clarifying brand essence construct is the brand archetype, a long-standing storytelling character device. Archetypes have prevailed since our earliest oral and written storytelling traditions, populating mythology and literature. Plato wrote about these seminal characters, which recurred in some of the greatest stories of all time. Carl G. Jung identified and described seven archetypes in his Archetypal Theory as universal constructs that symbolize basic human needs, aspirations, or motivations.

Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson have applied Jungian archetypal storytelling and psychology to brand identity in The Hero and the Outlaw. They identified 12 familiar and intuitive personas or brand archetypes mapped along two continua. The Y axis maps stability vs. change; the X axis maps community vs. individualism creating four motivational brand quadrants, each with three brand archetypes: Security and Control, Risk and Mastery, Belonging and Enjoyment, and Independence and Fulfillment.

Transmedia Marketing will guide you through this value-based method of brand discovery for your media project so you can unleash its authentic persona.

Courtesy of Azure Media; Design: Elles Gianocostas

Create a few distinct personas that your property could be. What goes with each is imagery, language, and how it relates to the audience. All of those things are part of that personality.  And then, try them on, almost like clothes.

-- Linda Button, brand personality expert, co-founder and principal, Tooth and Nail

Titles Have Personalities

The name or title is one of the most important branding and marketing decisions you can make for your media or entertainment project. No surprise, because it creates the first and most lasting impression. That’s why expectant parents agonize over a child’s name. It can be the difference between being cool or being bullied. The name translates your project’s internal brand essence into its external brand positioning. And it encapsulates all the brand stands for in just a few simple words. Naming products—cars, paint colors, food, and movies—is a multi-billion dollar business, rooted in social science, psychology, and marketing artistry.

Like audience psychographic profiles and brand archetypes, entertainment project names can take on personas. Recognizing and applying these personalities can also help you find a strong title for your media project.

There are many other public – above the waterline – expressions of your entertainment project’s brand. Transmedia Marketing covers the development of title, logo, music, written description, spokespeople, partners, key art, photography, posters, title sequence, trailers, teasers, sizzle reels, Web site, blogs, vlogs, social media platforms and more.

“The Eiffel Tower” (ca. 1884) by Maurice Koechlin, Émile Nouguier; Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Architects have blueprints. Artists have rough sketches. Entrepreneurs have business benchmarks. And successful media makers and marketers have clearly articulated marketing plans. Great marketing rarely happens because of serendipity or flashes of inspiration, but rather because of sound strategy and diligent planning.

Marketing planning is based on the precepts of strategic planning, an ongoing, problem-solving approach derived from the battlefields of ancient Greece. Planning works because it clarifies goals, keeps you on track, unifies all parties, amplifies efforts, and holds you accountable. Transmedia marketing adds the practice of creating media and audience experiences.

Branding and Planning

Transmedia Marketing will prime you to draft the strategic marketing and content plan for your media property. It will help you:

  • Understand your property’s operating environment
  • Establish goals and objectives
  • Conduct relevant research
  • Identify your key audiences
  • Position your project in the marketplace
  • Develop a creative mantle for it
  • Identify traditional and new media platforms to express it
  • Develop promotional tactics to reach your audiences and attain goals
  • Evaluate what worked and what didn’t

The best plans are clearly articulated, yet flexible. And they’re updated often: the goals rarely change, the strategies occasionally change, and the tactics are often revised.

Marketing Plan Template

Transmedia Marketing provides the framework for a sound marketing and content plan that covers the Four Marketing “Ps” (Four Marketing Ps links to Marketing 101 page) to help you draft your project’s own plan. 

The below plan template follows a hierarchical outline with broad goals first, then objectives, strategies, and tactics, each supporting the previous category. The promotional tactics you choose will vary by platform, genre, target audience, topic, environmental landscape, and many other factors of your project. You can flesh out your film, TV program, book, game, digital media, or transmedia project’s plan with a combination of narrative and bullets.

Marketing is very important in development – one has to know one’s audience even when developing and one has to keep an eye on that intended audience throughout the development, casting financing, production, editing and marketing phase.  

-- Anne Carey, film producer, The American, The Savages, Adventureland

© Richard Aguilar

There are many brands and marketing moments that are truly inspiring. Because good marketing transcends media, industries, and genres, some brands can be useful inspirations for marketing anything, including film, television, games, and digital media.

Apple — An Inspiration

Apple is a seminal branding, marketing, and innovation case study for several reasons.
No other current consumer brand engenders more emotion—whether positive or negative— than Apple. Some people love Apple like they love their pets. Others despise it and await its demise in a post-Steve Jobs era. No matter where people land on the affinity scale, Apple delves deeply into their psyches. Almost everybody pays attention to Apple’s next product or business announcement.

One reason is because Apple knew what it was, and what it wasn’t, from day one.
Plus, it had something to say about who you were if you chose a Mac, feeding a deep-seated cultural yearning to be different. In the 1980s, Apple wasn’t IBM, the behemoth ruler of PCs. It was a small, artsy, and rogue computer company. If you had a Mac you were a counter-culture creator, you didn’t draw inside the lines, and you weren’t always compatible with the rest of the world—literally and figuratively. Ad agencies and designers used Macs because they had the best programs for art and design, yet documents created on Macs couldn’t be opened or read by many PC-driven systems. It took a lot of extra work and a healthy sense of self to be an Apple devotee in the early days.

Also, Apple’s branding and promotion oozed that rebellious (The Outlaw brand archetype) positioning in every way. Who can forget the “1984” TV spot with the athlete breaking down the barriers of conventional computers and lifestyle? This later morphed into Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. Everything—from the unique product design and the constant innovation (the iPhone and iPad established the smartphone and tablet categories) to the retail store experience to its unique business models (iTunes)—pays off on thinking differently.

Finally, Apple has been the ultimate anthropologist, including the user perspective in everything it does. It studied visitor interactions at concierge desks at Ritz Hotels to create the Genius Bar model at its Apple Stores. It examined the various ways humans use their index fingers to create its signature iPhone “swipe.” Its products and services have served real human needs that people didn’t even know they had, plus offered its users entrée to a revolutionary creative and avant-garde community. Apple has inspired its audiences to be part of the Apple experience by appealing to a higher drive, much more than it has manipulated them. Appealing to motivation creates long-term brand loyalty.

There are countless other consumer and entertainment branding and marketing icons profiled in Transmedia Marketing.

“Think Different” by Apple Computer Inc.; Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Branding and Marketing Plan Resources