Have you had a chance to watch the new season of So You Think You Can Dance? They threw in a nice twist this year to keep up the interest – they only chose 10 dancers to compete on the show and also brought back a bunch of their best dancers from previous shows to partner up with the new dancers. It has been fun to watch. They also do some great things that almost any business can learn from as they work on creating a wonderful brand.

1. They know their audience. This show has been created for a very specific audience. It’s primary audience seems to be women, specifically young females who love dance. However the show does attract a broader female audience and general dance fans. The show’s creators don’t try to reach beyond these demographics. Though they might include a little extra for to keep the residual audiences, they know they are winning.

2. They keep it simple. Aside from the addition that I talked about in the intro to this post, this show remains about the same as it was when it first went on the air. It is a simple formula and it works. Instead of adding lots of weird twists and complex story lines they keep this one simple and allow the art that occurs on the stage to do the entertaining.

3. They make great use of stories. As the season progresses, we are allowed to peek into the lives of the dancers and see their families, struggles and dreams. You cannot help but get wrapped up in the characters and find a couple favorites to root for. They also cast the show with a variety of players – the hero, the artist, the underdog, the rebel, etc. These archetypes appeal to our deepest selves and we can’t help but relate to, love or hate the individual dancers. The show also taps into the traditional “bootstraps” narrative that holds appeal for so many of us.

4. The show appeals to our higher aspirations. Just like all of the dancers, we each have our own dreams. So You Think You Can Dance provides people with a path to achieve their dreams and you can’t help but find yourself watching and dreaming of your own wishes and dreams. “What if I had…?” “Maybe I could work a little harder?”

5. It offer a distinct positioning among the other reality television shows. There are reality television shows for just about any activity you can think of and finding a niche to position a new one in is tough, but the show’s creators made something unique by not bringing in amateurs. They seek out artists and give them the opportunity to get even better.

6. They keep you wanting more and end up generating a ton of word of mouth. It is a fast paced show (too many commercials) and they seldom dwell too long on any one point. It is a great technique. As I read a long time ago in a great marketing book, get in, make you point and get out. They have also done a great job of building tension as dancers progress and compete against one another. And as much as I hate it, they also leave their Wednesday night shows without any conclusion – the viewing audience gets to call in and select their favorites. Naturally, this leaves you wondering what is going to happen next and, in the process, you end up talking about it. Like many husbands, I get to hear the “So You Think You Can Dance” wife and mother-in-law discussion at least once a week. I also know they carry on other conversations about the show with their friends at work.

What do you think of the show? What would you add to this list?

Interested in learning more about branding? Check out any of these great articles:

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2 thoughts on “SBM 101: 6 Things “So You Think You Can Dance” Can Teach You About Branding

  1. Thank you for recognizing the genius of this show! Not only does it showcase amazing dancing and talent, it has such a sound business practice.

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