Building a Content Brand

Ogden Workshop - Creative

Pitch us a Content Brand!

I want you to think like a television executive.

You're part of the program development team and they're looking for the next hit show. Except you aren't working on behalf of a network - like the Discovery Channel or ESPN - you're working on behalf of your niche magazine.

Your network is your magazine. What's your first show?

Get Creative!

EXERCISE 5: A Smart Hook

If you're going to create a content brand you can OWN, you're going to need to come up with a smart hook - a twist on a familiar theme that entraps or ensnares your audience. Your hook is what makes your content unique. It's what people fall in love with.


Gary Vee's Wine Library TV

Delivering wine reviews and insight like ESPN's Sportscenter would.

Will It Blend

Blending everything you shouldn't.


A funny fold-related t-shirt every week.

Today's Marketing Cookie

A fortune cookie turned into Marketing strategy.

Things to think about:

  • What TV show's does your audience watch?
  • What other magazines do they like?
  • How can you make your content unique?
  • What does your audience talk about?
  • What online videos do they share?

EXERCISE 6: A Catchy Title and a Smart Log Line

Get creative. I want you to come up with a catchy title and a smart log line for your new show. Imagine that if the show is successful your audience would be interested in buying logo-merchandise with your show's title on it.

What's a log line?

A log line is an easy-to-understand description of your show. It should pique our interest, get us excited and really accentuate what makes your show unique.


The A - Team

"Four Vietnam vets, framed for a crime they didn't commit, help the innocent while on the run from the military."

30 Minute Meals

"Rachel Ray creates a hearty, accessible, filling, meal in 30-minutes - no television trickery involved."


When you're pitching new or innovative ideas, it's often hard for your audience to 'picture' what you're pitching. Analogies to content we already know and love helps us paint a picture of what the new content brand might be - how it might feel or even look.

Think of analogy line's as a way to mash-up two, three or even four other content brands into something new. It won't stand on it's own, but it will make a huge difference in our ability to see your concept come to life.


"Deadliest Catch"

ESPN's Bass fishing competition meets The Perfect Storm.


The online urban dictionary "" meets Popular Science at George Lucas' Special Effects shop.


Does your content concept have enough 'Episode Titles' or topics to last for a long time? Can you make a list of compelling episode titles? Try to quickly come up with a list of episodes for your concept.

If you can't come up with a list of a dozen ideas - your show probably doesn't have enough legs...

  • Write a dozen headlines (or more) for your new content brand.
  • Do you run out? Is this a limited concept? (If so, re-think your log line and title.)
  • Are the last three really hard to come up with? Broaden your concept a little.

EXAMPLE: Mythbusters' legs

  1. Jet-Assisted Chevy/Pop Rocks and Soda S1, Ep1
  2. Vacuum Toilet/Biscuit Bazooka/Leaping Lawyer S1, Ep2
  3. Larry's Lawn-Chair Balloon/Goldfinger/Poppy-Seed Drug Test S1, Ep3
  4. Ice Bullet/Exploding Toilet/Who Gets Wetter? S1, Ep4
  5. Cell Phone Destruction/Silicone Breasts/CD-ROM Shattering S1, Ep5
  6. Penny Drop/Deadly Microwaves/Radio Tooth Fillings S1, Ep7
  7. Hammer Bridge Drop/Buried Alive/Cola S1, Ep8
  8. Lightning Strikes Tongue Piercing/Tree Cannon/Beat the Breath Test S1, Ep9
  9. Stinky Car/Raccoon Rocket S1, Ep10
  10. Escape from Alcatraz/Duck Quack/Stud Finder S1, Ep11
  11. Chicken Gun/Octopus Pregnancy/Killer Washing Machine S1, Ep12
  12. Explosive Decompression/Frog Giggin'/Rear Axle S1, Ep13
  13. Sinking Titanic/Goldfish Memory/Trombone Explosion S1, Ep14

EXERCISE 8: A Brief Description of the Show's Mechancis

Every good television executive knows that the audience falls in love with a format first - not the talent, the hook or even the big idea - that means you're going to need to walk us through the way each episode unfolds. Keep it simple. Make sure you have a beginning a middle and an end.


How Booze Built America

"Mike Rowe is thirsty. Really thirsty. And after doing hundreds of dirty jobs, who can blame him? In Discovery’s brand-new series HOW BOOZE BUILT AMERICA, host Mike Rowe takes a break from the dirty jobs … and takes a seat at the bar.

Did you know that the Puritans landed the Mayflower early on Plymouth Rock … because they ran out of beer? Or that Johnny Appleseed was actually creating farms to sell hard apple cider? Mike Rowe does, and he’ll walk you through all of this and more. He’s proven that dirty jobs can be fun. He’s ready to do the same for history.

Each episode takes you inside one of America's most historic events and uncover's the ways booze changed our country (and it's not always for the better.)"

Proof that your show has legs!

If everything else has gone well - meaning your pitch is resonating, heads are nodding and people are excited about your idea - you have to prove it has 'legs.'

In the television business, this means you must prove there are enough possibilities to create 'N' number of episodes of the show. Sometimes a list of three or four episode titles will help people understand how far your show can go.

For Example:

Discovery Channel's "Curiosity"

Anatomy of a plane crash

The Devil's Triangle

Did God create the universe

EXERCISE 9: Underwriting Statement

Let's attach the revenue opportunities to your content brand.

List ten brands, companies or products that would find high value in accessing the audience you've identified in your fractal. Pick one (or two of them) and write an underwriting message for the brand.

Connect the brand to the reason they support the creation and distribution of this content.


Re-phrase your audience empathy statement to include the underwriter.


Here's the original Audience Empathy Statement for Say Media's Venn Friday:

As the CMO of a growing consumer brand your faced with an ever-evolving media universe. Whether it's dealing with a new mobile generation or understanding boomer behavior you're challenged with making sense of the new opportunities in front of you.

Here's the underwritten version:

At Marketo, we understand that the role of a strategic marketer has changed over the last decade. You're disrupted with repeated waves of change making yesterday's strategy an ever-evolving moving target. That's why we're proud to underwrite Say Media's Venn Friday, because at Marketo we're committed to making sense of the new opportunities in front of you.

EXERCISE 10: Pulling it all Together

Pull your pitch together:

  • The audience you're targeting (Fractal)
  • The Audience empathy statement
  • The micro daypart you're targeting
  • The talent that powers your content
  • Title & Log Line
  • Format
  • Legs
  • Underwriter & Support Statement.