There was a piece on CNN’s site last week that dealt with some changes happening at The Weather Channel. I don’t know about you, but that’s one of the channels I find pretty indispensable, even though my cable service provides a 24/7 local traffic and weather channel too. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the folks at Weather have been adding weather-related programming, and it’s frustrating when you turn on the channel to get an update only to see “Fat Guys In The Woods” or some other canned stuff in lieu of live weather. Apparently, other have noticed as well and Weather is reacting. What they had to say is instructive for all of us, no matter what our business.
According to the article, they just announced layoffs:
About 50 of the channel’s 1,400 employees will be leaving. The plan calls for a singular focus “on our unique strength — and that is the weather.” With the cable channel bundle coming under increasing pressure, and “skinny bundles” becoming more common, “it’s inevitable that channels will be cut,” Weather Company CEO David Kenny said in an interview. With this in mind, “we need to be really clear who we are,” Kenny said.
That’s the business point. There is always the temptation to expand the meaning of our brands. As we’ve discussed before, we’re not really in control of that meaning anymore: the consumer is. What The Weather Channel did was to dilute the meaning of the brand, which in this consumer’s mind was live weather and analysis. I realize that when it’s a sunny day everywhere there isn’t a lot to say, but it’s possible to bring in non-live segments (not programs) while preserving the core identity. When the channel was taken off DirecTv for a few months, suddenly someone realized that they were no longer indispensable and the basic business model of subscriber fees was put in jeopardy. Not good.
Ask yourself what is working for your brand. What does it mean in consumers‘ minds? You can’t alienate or confuse them while you try to grow the brand’s meaning. As the man said, be really clear about who you are. Make sense?