Rebranding Geek

Newsflash, geek is officially chic. Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed $1.2 billion worldwide, Game of Thrones’ season five finale was watched by over 8 million people and over 130,000 people attended San Diego Comic-Con this past summer. Nerdiness is no longer a niche market, but is already settling comfortably into the mainstream.

The most interesting part about this resurgence in nerd power is that most of the brands and companies experiencing this up swing have been around for almost 80 years. DC Comics was started in 1934 and Marvel was started in 1939. The first Game of Thrones book came out in 1996. None of these brands are new; in fact they’re anything but.

Thus, it falls to us as upcoming PR professionals to understand how to reboot and breathe fresh air into a brand. Here are three tips on how to handle PR for a revitalized brand.

1. Get with the times
Whether you’re attempting to reboot a brand or starting at a company right on the verge of an upswing, the first thing you need to do is get with the times and update your brand to the modern world. In 2012, Marvel featured its first same-sex marriage in one of its comic books and DC revealed that its Green Lantern superhero Alan Scott was gay. More recently, African American actor Michael B. Jordan played the character of Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. In the upcoming Doctor Strange movie, an originally male character is going to be played by female actor Tilda Swinton. Because these brands were started as far back as the 1930s, sometimes the representation isn’t as inclusive as we expect of modern media, and it’s important to bring your brand up to speed.

2. Snuggle up to influencers
When a lot of these older brands were started, YouTube and Instagram weren’t a thing. There were no ordinary people with a following of 5-8 million subscribers that could be reached with just a little bit of free merchandise. These online influencers are the gatekeepers of the audience you need to target to really revamp your brand. YouTubers like Shane Dawson and Smosh partner with companies to promote their shows or brands, while YouTubers such as Danisnotonfire receive free merchandise from companies and present it on their channel. Getting in close with influencers is just another way to get your rebooted brand out there. Audiences are more likely to listen to influencers than they are to the media itself.

3. Learn to work with different channels
Game of Thrones went a little over ten years before it was transformed into a TV show and now it’s one of the biggest premium channel shows of all time. Marvel and DC have broken out into movies as well as TV shows. It’s important to structure your PR tactics to accommodate all of these growing channels. The audience you target for new TV shows won’t be the same as the audience you target for movies, or the audience you target for comics. Geek culture is starting to saturate all forms of media and, as a PR student, it’s extremely important that you understand how to tailor your message to all of these different channels. Extending a brand into different channels is one of the best ways to ride a reboot wave.

Of course, these tips don’t just apply to all things geek. They can also be used to bring any old and tired brand into the 21st century, or to help give an oversaturated brand a new and fresh look and appeal. Knowing how to rework a brand that’s been around for a long time is definitely an important skill to have as a PR professional, whatever the subject matter.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Account Executive Hannah Litchfield

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