National Geographic recently announced an extensive re-brand across its global media platforms, undertaken as a step to build on its expanded joint venture with 21st Century Fox and position National Geographic as a leader in premium content. The re-brand also includes visual presentation of the global channels in 171 countries along with the magazine, the website, and the company’s social and digital platforms and embraced a global tagline – ‘Further’. To reinforce the notion of ONE National Geographic, under this re-branding effort, the network has dropped the word “channel” both on air and off across the world.
The re-brand also coincided with the premier of the global property ‘MARS’, a story of mankind’s thrilling quest to inhabit Mars, produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
“Our new global tagline ‘Further’ is meant to embody the ethos and spirit that have defined the brand for over 128 years. It is also a step forward for us in embracing the company’s purpose to be the leading premium content destination for science, exploration and adventure. ‘Further’ captures the aspirations of the National Geographic audience,” says Declan Moore, CEO, National Geographic Partners, (National Geographic Partners is an expanded joint venture between 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society)
Key developments for India market
On the back of the re-branding exercise, Moore shares three key developments that aim to position National Geographic in a whole new league in India: “First, you are going to get consistently superb story-telling,” he begins. “Second, you are going to get a lot more ‘wow’ and wonder. Third, you are going to see a brand that actually comes to life and is engaging and relevant. It is like re-inventing the brand for the 21st century.”
In carrying out the development plans, Moore also recognizes the crucial role that digital would play. “There is an opportunity to go digital and knit all of that story-telling together and create compelling stories for consumers. With National Geographic Partners, we have connected story-telling between publishing, social media, digital publishing, and television, into one integrated offering. What we are really going to do is unlock the power of all our assets and unleash the power of this legacy brand,” he says.
FOCUS AREAS AND EXPANSION PLANS
India is an extremely important market for the National Geographic brand, and it is one where the brand has a national footprint. “It is a market space that has significant scale and one that is growing rapidly. We are seeing a ferocious consumption of story-telling content in India. Today, when we look at the reach of the channel, we have roughly 22% of the audience coming from India. When we look at the support that we get on social media, India has a significant contribution to that as well,” shares Moore.
With such a promising response, the brand is looking to expand into other areas as well. “Today, there is an opportunity to extend the brand to the ‘experience’ space in terms of real, branded, location-based entertainment - there is immense licensing growth potential from where we are today. The travel area has been very successful for us; looking at the growth numbers, the brand plays out very well in the travel space. We are quite interested to grow in the travel media space, specifically travel ancillary products,” elaborates Moore.
‘NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IS NOT JUST A CHANNEL’
With one of National Geographic’s competitors – Discovery - foraying into sports, is there pressure on National Geographic to launch a new channel or enter a completely new domain? “For us, it is more about how we build this brand and communicate our sense of purpose, rather than launch another channel,” responds Moore. “We underline this by emphasizing that National Geographic is not and never has been just a channel, which is what differentiates us from all the other channels and any other brand in the world, because we are a 129-year-old institution. Whether you see the brand at an airport or at an expedition, it stands for something and means something to you - it is not just a channel. The loyalty for our channel is not just because of the content that’s being watched, but also the belief, trust, authenticity, and credibility that we’ve offered for many years. So, that resonance and association are stronger and something we cherish and only want to build on,” adds Moore.
And while National Geographic continues to run content in the non-fiction space, it is also introducing a scripted series - the first coming from that direction is ‘Genius’, based on the autobiography of world renowned theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein.
REVENUE GROWTH IN DIGITAL
With digital being one of the crucial spokes in the progress wheel, Moore shares the leap that the brand has made in the digital space. “We witnessed an all-time high last year in our global revenues for digital. We saw 29% increase in digital display last year, and we saw 49% growth on social as well over the last year,” he shares.
CONTENT FILTERS FOR THE BRAND
Given National Geographic’s multi-channel, multi-medium approach, it is imperative that it uses a set of filters that play a pivotal role when it comes to content. “Our filters are based on three pillars—factual accuracy, visual excellence, and a compelling narrative,” says Moore. “We see ourselves as a serious player in the premium space, and with hyper fragmentation around us in the media space, it is important to create a brand definition of story-telling and then consistently deliver that across all the touch-points to the consumer, which we strive to do relentlessly,” he concludes.