They can be broad (travel, technology, sustainability) or niche (workplace innovation, entrepreneurial success stories), and within these themes, your brand is one of many participants in a global conversation. One brand objective is to “own” a theme (or at least be considered an authority or thought leader on the subject). Louis Vuitton, for example, benefits from its strong association to the theme of travel, while UBS has long used its ties to the art world to drive business with high-net- worth collectors.
“One brand objective is to “own” a theme (or at least be considered an authority or thought leader on the subject).”
Keep in mind that…
Brand themes can serve as a base for organisations to develop an editorial line, and thus should be considered as major communication channels. On the brand side, “owning” a great theme can increase the standing of a brand. Some industry blogs managed by McKinsey or BCG are read by thousands of professionals, most of whom are not customers. Conversely, a strong brand presence on a trending theme is a great way to be discovered by prospects, especially in a B2B context.
That being said, not all themes have to be at the forefront of industry innovation.
It might be difficult for a medium-sized business selling auto parts to have a voice in the global conversation on the future of transportation, after all. What’s important is for brands to zero in on themes that are closely aligned to their story, but also of interest to their customer base. For smaller companies, it might be interesting to choose themes that are of local or regional interest. When it comes to share of voice, it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond.
Brand Storytelling Handbook
It is important not to confuse brand messaging and brand themes. Brand messaging is centred on your brand (your products, your history, your ideal, etc.), whereas brand themes exist independently from your brand. People will keep talking about the future of construction whether or not Saint-Gobain, Holcim or Cemex are part of the conversation.
“Owning” a theme is a long-term, resource- intensive endeavour. That is why brands can only choose to take part in a limited number of conversations. Depending on your aim (visibility, business development, M&A opportunities), some themes can reap more benefits than others. Following themes tied to industry innovation could lead to uncovering potential new rivals or acquisition targets, while a company that’s viewed as a thought leader on work-life balance may find it easier to attract top talents.
Questions to ask yourself
- If your brand was a magazine, what are the themes you would write about?
- In which field(s) can you be recognised as a “thought leader”?
- What are your communication objectives when choosing a brand theme?