Content brand of the week: HMV, the brand that’s tuning into content to get its groove back

H envy? Why would I be jealous of the guy who used to be in Steps?

We’re talking down-on-its-luck entertainment retailer HMV, not ‘90s pop bands this week I’m afraid.

Things not going so well for the high street chain then?

Not especially. HMV didn’t cope well with the huge swing in consumer habits from high street to online retail, and fell on some fiscally tough times as a result. The chain entered receivership earlier this year and closed many of its brick and mortar stores.

It’s not sounding great so far. Is there a silver lining to this grisly grey cloud?

There is indeed. While we’ve cited the switch to online as a big factor in HMV’s initial struggles, it’s turning out to be the saviour of HMV as a content brand.

HMV is embracing digital?

Indeed. One of the biggest statements of intent by HMV was the launch of its new app in October, which became the first non-Apple application available in the App store through which users could buy and download digital music.

Wow, that’s a bit of a coup!

Indeed, we suspect Apple had a vested interest in keeping HMV alive and kicking as a direct competitor to Amazon. Unfortunately for HMV Apple has since reneged on its initial approval of the app’s download facility, but iOS users can still download from the HMV store through their browser.

So the app is a good start, if slightly subject to the whims of Apple. What else is HMV doing?

What HMV definitely can control is the content on its site, and from what we can see there’s been a clear and concerted effort to make the most of this online platform. The main site is packed with lots of opinion posts, news and reviews covering music, film and TV, making it feel much more like a magazine than a way of feeding traffic to the e-commerce sister site

News and reviews is good, but couldn’t anyone do that?

Very true. Perhaps that’s the reasoning behind the ‘Staff Picks’ page, where members of HMV’s in-store staff give their opinion on the latest releases. We’re not talking about polished reviews of the type you’d find in the music press, but rather a digital equivalent to the recommendation someone in a brick-and-mortar store might give a browsing customer. HMV is still known for being a high street retailer, so by involving its high street staff in the e-tailing process it’s giving the online consumer something usually absent from the online experience – that all-important human touch.


And how is the former giant getting all this content into the public domain?

Although amazingly hmvdigital didn’t have a Facebook page until yesterday, overall the brand is getting the word out pretty well. For example, its using its e-newsletter as a delivery/distribution tool, directing readers both to brand content at and the sales-oriented pages at

Music to my ears!

Author: George Wright Theohari

Branding | Content | Design. We develop and deliver beautifully effective communications across print, digital and film.

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