5 lessons from pop culture for content creators

by Emily Peters, Editorial Assistant

If there’s been one watercooler moment that’s dominated the office recently, it’s been the return of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO).

From GBBO-inspired bingo to a boom in home baking, it seems GBBO is developing into something of a cultural phenomenon. But why does the show hold such universal appeal (aside from the fact that it’s largely about cake)?

It’s a question that DigitasLBi’s Chris Clarke unpicked in his article for Campaign magazine last week, and one that got us thinking about the lessons that content creators could take from other cultural phenomena. If GBBO has so much to offer, what about the nation’s favourite seaside dish or the hottest contemporary fantasy TV series?

Here are five helpful tips that apply to content and pop culture alike:

1. Regularity breeds results. Google rewards businesses for publishing fresh, compelling and relevant content. Generally speaking, this means the more frequently you post, the higher you’ll rank in Google’s search engine. The Beatles knew the value of regular record creation, producing around 200 songs throughout their 10-year lifespan. They may be hailed as some of the best British songwriters that ever lived, but the sheer volume of content they produced no doubt kept their fans at fever pitch.

2. You’re lost without a strong concept. That being said, regular content only generates hits if it’s well written, convincing and rooted in a powerful concept. Sir David Attenborough is the master of this – his venerable Life series continues to wow audiences despite barely changing its format from when it was first broadcast in 1979. It’s proof that if an idea is good enough, everything else will follow suit.

3. Controversy can be a good thing. Content doesn’t have to please everyone, but it needs to get people talking. A case in point is the age-old British spread that some of us love, but others hate: Marmite. The ‘I Love/I Hate Marmite’ campaign is an example of a brand identity built around the very thing that should have halved its customer base. Despite efforts to appeal to a broader audience this summer with the release of a lighter limited-edition spread, the Marmite variant comes in two illustrated Summer of Love and Summer of Hate jars – showing the value of embracing controversy.

4. Great design brings content to life. Ask any Game of Thrones fan to explain why they love the show and they’re bound to mention its epic visuals. In the same way that stunning cinematography separates the TV spin-off from George R. R. Martin’s hair-raising books, strong design is often what separates digital content from its print equivalent. With the best journalistic will in the world, online content will only entice if it’s designed well – in terms of both user experience and aesthetics.

5. Know when to keep it simple. Charles Dickens referred to a fish shop or “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist in 1839, and fish ‘n’ chips soon became a national craze. But why is it heralded one of the nation’s favourite dishes more than 175 years later? The answer: it’s about as far from pretentious as you can get and it hits the spot every time. The same can be said for content, whether it’s the design for an annual report or the headline for a piece of online copy. Sometimes, simplicity speaks volumes.

Published Aug 12, 2015

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