The single, most important thing that you should think about as you prepare for Cannes is...
What is our brand?
Many companies go from show to show, building their catalog and selling territories without really giving much thought to their overall company image or “brand”. But your company needs a brand; it needs to be known for something more than just an eclectic collection of films. That in fact is what a lot of the foreign sales companies have become: A mixed assortment of movies and documentaries. You cannot discern much of a plan or corporate image from their list of titles, accumulated over the years. Most were picked up because they were priced right and expedient, and the acquisition team knew that they could sell them to a certain number of buyers. Not much thought was given to how this or that title fits into the overall company “brand” or how a title will enhance the value of the corporation as a whole. It often gets down to price, terms and sell-ability. Deal done.
But that is not the end of the deal. That title will become part of your company’s long term identity. You know the phrase “you are what you eat,” well… you are what you sell.
Building your corporate brand is crucial to the long term successful growth and financial health of your company. What are you known for? Why do buyers want the films that you take to market? When you want to recruit top talent to your team, why do they want to work for your company?
I started my career at the Walt Disney Company. Arguably, the most brand conscious corporation in the entertainment industry. We were always fastidious about building, enhancing and protecting our brand.
You need to do the same.
Buying and selling films is just as much about personal relationships as it is about marketing entertainment properties. Often films are picked up from this producer or that one because you sold their last film and may want their next one. But how does that help your company? Ten years from now will you look back and be really glad that you acquired and sold that film, or will it just be another brick in the wall?
Build your brand. They are not bricks. Acquire only films that will enhance the overall value of your company and give you a catalog of titles that others would admire and wish they had acquired.
It does not matter if you have the best collection of creature features, Anime, romantic comedies, rock docs, international spy thrillers… or kid vid. Be known for something.
A lot of people talk about branding, but few companies in our business are really serious about it. As you get ready to embark for France, think about your long term objectives and what you want your company to be known for, and do not compromise on that vision.