What brands can learn from The Great British Bake Off

We love a good debate in the Fourth Day offices and often spend our lunch breaks discussing everything from educational policy to the best way to style leather trousers. But one thing that has come up repeatedly in recent weeks is The Great British Bake Off and its return to our screens on Channel 4.

Would its new home herald a whole new Bake Off brand? Or would it stick to the tried and tested formula? And either way – what would people make of it? Last Tuesday, the cake boffins in the office raced home to tune in and see.

Unsurprisingly, our next lunchtime break saw us tucking into a cake-themed debate alongside our soup and sandwiches. Being the PR pros that we are, it wasn’t long before we started talking about GBBO’s brand and communications strategy. And it raised some interesting points about what businesses can learn from the Bake Off’s journey across the channels.

It’s ok to tweak your brand…

Making changes to your brand once it’s established can be scary, but it’s important to remember that it is possible to do it. Sometimes, a refresh can be just the boost your company needs. According to Brandwatch, a massive 81% of tweets about the presenters during the programme last week were about the newbies, with old hat Paul Hollywood bringing in just 19% of mentions.

Although it’s true that some of these tweets may not have been completely positive, shaking things up clearly got people talking on social media, as well as in the traditional press.

…But don’t underestimate the connection people feel to your brand

Equally though, everything that changes during a brand refresh should be done for a reason, rather than just for the sake of change. A study by the Harvard Business Reviewhas shown that creating an emotional connection between a consumer and a product can be the most effective way to encourage a purchase. So, hugely overhauling a brand that people love could potentially alienate customers.

GBBO navigated these tricky waters pretty well, keeping the opening credits and general ‘feel’ of the programme the same. The addition of ad breaks however, did get people on Twitter up in arms.

Brand goes beyond the individual

A key topic of discussion in the office ahead of last week’s opening episode was whether Mary Berry is, in fact, the Bake Off brand. With multiple Bake Off cookbooks to her name, and a hallowed place in the heart of the nation, we were wondering whether GBBO could survive without her.

However, it seems that – although she was missed – her presence wasn’t vital to making the programme a success. Although, now that she’s been announced as the face of a rival show on the beeb, it will be interesting to see whether viewers favour her or the Bake Off.

A strong brand can continue even if the key people involved with it change. This can sometimes be a sticking point for businesses that scale up rapidly and have to deal with concerns about maintaining brand integrity. This is especially true when founders and CEOs must delegate out to larger teams. Ensuring that all staff understand brand values and guidelines will help keep all communications on-message and in line with your brand ethos.

With the second episode of this series of Bake Off now just hours away, we’re already looking forward to seeing what else we can glean from tonight’s installment. Personally, I’m hoping the history segment comes back – l like my reality TV with a side of culinary trivia.

The author

Lizzie is an Account Director in the Manchester team

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