Academic journal article Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

Dimensions of News Media Brand Personality

Academic journal article Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

Dimensions of News Media Brand Personality

Article excerpt

This study explores the structure of news media brand personality across multiple media outlets including television network news, newspapers, and news magazines. Through a series of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis procedures with an initial set of 229 personality traits that were reduced to the final set of forty-eight items, we found five brand personality dimensions that can be applicable to news media: Trustworthiness, Dynamism, Sincerity, Sophistication, and Toughness. Practical implications for media brand management are discussed.

News organizations are responding to increasing competition by using branding principles from the field of strategic media management.1 News media brands, applying Kotler's2 general definition of brand, can be defined broadly as names, terms, signs, symbols, or any other identities used by news organizations to differentiate themselves from competitors.

From a marketing perspective, the creation of a distinct brand that distinguishes a news organization from its competitors can create a competitive advantage.3 The importance of news media branding has increased exponentially as news organizations place greater emphasis on long-term shareholder value.4 The intricacy of the competitive media landscape has also made it more difficult to attract audiences solely on the basis of functional attributes such as the content of the news.5 In an environment where different organizations often offer news that is similar, differentiating media brands is necessary for survival.6 The use of branding is not new. The three broadcast networks branded themselves based on their well-known anchors such as Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather.7 However, the emphasis on symbolic attributes or images to build points of differentiation is increasingly critical for all news organizations. For example, an experiment found credibility ratings from consumers were influenced by a newspaper's brand image.8

Consumers often focus on differences created by building a strong, favorable, and unique set of brand personalities.9 A brand personality is "the set of human characteristics associated with a brand."10 Brand personality is an essential component of consumer perceptions of a product, and those perceptions can build brand equity.11 The concept of brand personality can also help news media companies enhance their value for advertisers. Advertisers, particularly media planners, focus on matching media with the advertiser's target markets.12 Advertisers prefer media with a personality that is similar to the advertised product because matching the product and medium can lead to greater advertising effects.13

News organizations thus need to be conscious of advertiser interest in finding compatible media. Consumers also prefer brands that are consistent with their self-images and personalities,14 so a news organization that possesses a well-defined brand personality is more likely to attract audiences that share similar personalities.

There have been previous attempts to capture the perceived images of news media sources /brands,15 but these focused on a single medium, such as television network news (broadcast and cable news outlets) or newspapers.

This study asks if there are generally applicable brand personality dimensions that exist across news organizations in different media. The study also investigates the brand personalities of different news media. It presents empirical evidence consistent with the theoretical foundations for news media brand personality dimensions, and provides practical guidelines that show how a news media brand can be positioned successfully in today's highly competitive news media markets.

Literature Review

Economics of Branding. Galbi16 calls branding critical for news organizations responding to competition from digital communication technologies. Existing organizations must either expand into digital markets or risk long-term declines in advertising revenue. …

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