How not to cannibalise your offline brand with your online activity

When you have a carefully nurtured and lucrative offline brand that relies on its content for its revenue, there is a risk attached to putting that content online.  How can you tread this balance, and stretch your brand without undermining it?  Here are some simple guidelines to aid your thinking:

1. Be clear about your target audience

Online you have the freedom to service niche audiences – those less closely aligned with your parent brand, potential consumers, or those with very specialist interests.  If you see your online presence as an outreach tool, you are less likely to substitute the needs of your core offline brand.

2. Understand all aspects of their interest or decision process

Your offline brand may just touch part of their interest, it may provide inspiration, ideas, or reflective analysis.  Think through every decision your consumer has to take to reach their goal; can you take them through the full process using both platforms?

3. Know what each platform does best

Magazines are best for reflection, analysis, inspiration, dreaming, luxuriating in a subject.  Newspapers are instant, opinionated, portable and disposable.  Events provide the face to face contact and demonstrations that some products require.  Radio is a companion in your daily life, bringing personalities into your space, making you feel you belong to a community.  Online is the ultimate search tool, a chance to share ideas with like-minded people, and a place to transact.

4. Design complementary propositions – two sides of the same coin

Build your online proposition so that it complements the offline but still supports the same brand values for your core audience.  Car as a magazine is about luxuriating in beautiful pictures and excellent writing about the very best cars.  Online it’s about instant access to hot news and spy shots.  Both make you feel like an insider.

5. Build a coherent team

None of your careful crafting of complementary propositions will be worth anything if your online and offline teams are competing with each other.  You need to be able to communicate to them how the two incarnations of the brand can work together to solve consumers needs and grow your overall business.

I’d be keen to hear about your experiences in taking an offline brand online; just click on the comment button.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy, Penmaen Media, advises media businesses on how to grow their revenues in a digital world.  Find out more at

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