How did the X Factor come to be known as one of the biggest brands in the world? How did this talent show turn into a giant brand? The answer to these questions would be valuable information to anyone, gold dust even. It would unlock the power to unlimited fortune and success. But the answer is not something that can be written down and replicated. It is difficult to recognise the intangibility of its popularity, the role of chance and a million other elements that have contributed to the X Factor status. Let me attempt to explain over the next couple of blogs how X Factor has become the brand that it is:
1. Understand the audience
Chris Hackley, professor of marketing at Royal Holloway, and co-author Stephen Brown, professor of marketing research at Ulster University, conducted a study on the popularity of X Factor and what they came up with was that fundamental to the current obsession with the hit TV show is its ability to “tap into a human need for rituals of change and transformation.”
In other words who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches fairy tale sort of story. The stories that people grew up hearing, where someone “just like you and me” makes it big and gets all the glitter and glamour that comes along with being a superstar etc. The X Factor fulfills the audience’s wish to see this happen to someone ordinary and they experience the journey with them.
X Factor producers know their target audience and what they want to provide them with as effectively as possible. Creating this emotional connection with audiences is part of it. Auditions have become a place where people can talk about how hard life has been, the personal issues and inner battles that they’ve dealt with etc. It’s a bit over done if you ask me but it works.
X Factor is the like a master manipulator and knows how to create this emotional connection very well through the dramatic tension caused by contrasting the tragic stories of the contestants with possible fame and fortune. By pitting “rejection and failure” with “acceptance and success” the audience recognises this, feels a powerful sense of commitment towards it and falls for it year after year.
2. Stand out from the crowd
Rylan pops to mind! But forget that. The best voice doesn’t necessarily win the X Factor. It’s about the performer who has “something special” which can range from look, to a likeable personality, personal singing style, to a beautiful face. If they have all those factors and more, the act has a guaranteed top 3 finish. The producers will ensure that!
These differentiating factors need to matter to the audience in the same way that a product or a company stands out from its competitors. This continual and evolving process changes as competitor’s change. Central to making a brand unique and successful is identifying what makes it different, likeable and most importantly remarkable!
In the next blog, I’ll continue explaining my ideas on how X Factor has become this massive brand that has dominated TV for almost 10 years.