The dragons are chained, The Hound is dying, Jon Snow is back in Castle Black and Tyrion Lannister is on a ship to parts unknown. If you watch the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, then you understand.
Last Sunday's season four finale was watched by 7.1 million viewers — and broke illegal download records.
With the next episode months away, we thought we'd give fans a Game of Thrones fix: three brand asset secrets from the fantasy drama TV series.
Riddles of the Realm
“Winter is coming.” These iconic words are the mantra of inhabitants of the northern regions of Westeros, where they prepare for an extended cold season by following the guidelines and instructions that have been handed down over thousands of years.
The show has a web-work of characters and plot twists, making it challenging to know who is aligned with whom. But despite the constant changes in leadership, there are underlying strategies that everyone in the realm follows — especially when fighting for their chance at the iron throne and ultimate survival.
So what's that mean for marketers? More than you may think.
Managing your digital brand assets, such as images, videos and rich media, has much in common with the drama. You have to maintain brand consistency, learn from others and establish governance guidelines that protect and strengthen your brand and position. Each person within your organization must follow the same guidelines and framework for the strategy to be effective as your marketing strategy expands across channels.
Secret One: Maintain Consistency within Your Brand Family
Each family in the Game of Thrones has established a well-known, easily recognized family brand. The House of Lannister proudly displays the golden lion family brand on its banners. The House of Stark proudly displays its sigil of the dire wolf on the family’s garments and on the walls at home. The House Greyjoy, famous for its connection to the sea, dons a kracken (sea monster) for its family brand. Without brand consistency, each family would simply melt indistinguishably into the crowd. No one would have a distinct and memorable claim to ascend the iron throne.
Similarly, when you use your organization’s brand assets to assert your presence on digital channels, it’s important to maintain brand consistency across all of your global markets and customer-facing channels.
Brand consistency starts when the asset is created and continues through its propagation throughout your organization. Provide as much direction as possible and leverage digital asset management (DAM) tools to help improve brand information and enforcement. For example, a strong metadata and taxonomy within your DAM can enable your users to find the latest and greatest digital asset while maintaining brand consistency across all channels.
Secret Two: Support Your People, the Foundation of Your Brand
Listen to the people and give them what they need. This is a governance secret used effectively by the Tyrell family. For example, although Margaery Tyrell, who aspires to be a queen, has considerable wealth and is aligned to powerful allies, her real strength is governing the people with care and empathy. By giving the people the care they need most, she increases her power and influence beyond what money can buy.
In addition to managing your brand assets, tending to your flock might be one of the most important actions you can take. Many in your organization have likely already identified the major issues: unnecessary or redundant processes, countless hours spent looking for content and wasted marketing budget spent duplicating assets that likely already exist. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the many corners of your organization to determine what they really need.
- Interview your users and see how they behave. Survey or talk to your stakeholders directly and learn what terms they use to search for brand assets. Identify the repeated processes and link with the broader organization to establish your guidelines.
- Indirectly monitor user behaviors. In the show, Lord Varys keeps a group of “little birds” closely tied to him to gather critical information about the kingdom. Just like Varys, we can take advantage of usage and reporting data to improve our asset management experience for our key users.
- Don’t be afraid to ask an expert for help. If you do not have the knowledge, experience, or resources available in-house, consider hiring a qualified partner or specialist to help define the best structure and process.
Secret Three: Establish Governance Guidelines that Protect and Strengthen Your Brand
Who’s watching over your brand assets?
When volunteers join the Night’s Watch, they must give up all titles and lands, agree not to marry and adhere to strict guidelines to defend the kingdoms from what lies beyond the wall.
You don’t have to “take the black” and travel to the extreme north and join the honorable Night’s Watch to protect your digital assets. Still, there is something to be learned from this group of stoic men: follow simple rules and customs to ensure brand survival.
Marketers need to have the correct governance processes in place to effectively protect and strengthen their brands. Including simple, yet powerful controls in the early stages of asset management strategy lays the groundwork for others to follow.
There are two key areas to control when you establish that digital asset strategy:
- Visibility: Control who can see what and make sure each user and group only sees relevant information
- Workflow: Control the digital production and distribution processes. Paint a clear path of who does what and when
Taking a Game of Thrones approach to managing your marketing assets is a fun albeit unusual way to think about strengthening your brand and supporting your marketing users. Just don’t get too attached to any characters.