by Paul Kaye
January 5, 2018
Be Smart About Your Branding
Successful stations are always well branded. These stations invest in saying their name (which often has included dial position) on the air, over and over. Safe in the belief that repetition builds recognition. These stations have understood – and embraced – the basic need to identify themselves frequently. They sell their brand name with pride and enthusiasm. They honour the idea that an audience needs to know who you are, where you are and what you do in order for you to stand a chance of finding success.
When everyone competed in diary rated markets, no one disputed the importance of top of mind awareness that effective branding fuelled. However, naively, some believed your brand name wasn’t as important in PPM rated markets; after all PPM was measuring exposure and not recall. That was short sighted thinking on our part, as you still need to ensure your station is branded well in order to influence future intentional tuning.
Yet, fast forward to 2018 and there are still many examples of stations that are ineffective and/or inconsistent with how they brand themselves. Some stations drop their frequency, others rotate through variations of their name and some simply choose to use their name on air with little frequency. This approach isn’t going to serve us well as we move into a voice-controlled world. Your name is once again – as it always has been – your most important asset. In the world of branding your name acts like a bucket, it’s a place to collect all of your audience’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs about you. Without it they have nowhere to store these and you therefore end up owning no mental real estate past the initial point of consumption.
Why is this important for us to recognize in 2018? Because in a voice controlled world your name will be how you are discovered. Without effective branding your chances of being found amongst the myriad of choice diminishes quickly. Stations simply calling themselves “JACK”, “KiSS”, “Lite”, “Mix”, “Star” and every other generic moniker are going to be in an undesirable position. Smart speaker systems default to an aggregator like Tune-In and that means the devices need to be able to differentiate station names. Search for any of these on Tune-In and a plethora of stations will appear. It can feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. To be successful in audio entertainment world we need to stop thinking ‘local’ when it comes to branding and instead think ‘Global’. Your identity needs to be unique across the globe. You need to claim your name.
If you haven’t yet tested how easy it is to discover your station on a smart speaker then you need to today. Ease of use is not a luxury it is a requirement. The audio entertainment space is simply more competitive; 100,000+ stations available on Tune-In, 500+ on RadioPlayer Canada, 400,000 podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, iHeart… with all those options available via these devices your audience has to be able to find you quickly and in the most convenient way. In a world where there are no pre-sets, dial position or an app it’s essential; that listeners know what to say in order to receive your station. It’s all about instant retrieval.
Part of your branding strategy should now also include educating your audience on how to find your station on smart speakers. There’s no real harm in being early in this space and we certainly shouldn’t dismiss this as being for younger audiences or early adopters only. “This is technology that is not just being used by young people. We’re seeing so many different kinds of owners who enjoy interacting with these devices,” Megan Lazovick, Edison director of Research, “Smart speakers present a tremendous opportunity for radio.” And it applies to all formats as well. Edison went on to say that they found that more than 7 in 10 smart speaker owners who listen to country radio said listening to their favourite AM/FM station was the reason they wanted the device.
With less and less traditional radio sets in the home, in fact there’s less to even buy on the market now, Smart Speakers are good for radio. It gives us the opportunity to get radio back into the home, a space where we have seen radio consumption in decline. But this is only good for the industry if people can find you.
As a quick reminder, as we head into 2018, you should:
- Ensure your brand name is unique; how will you ensure you’re discoverable
- Sell your brand name on all platforms often (in creative & interesting ways)
- Ensure imaging & talent are consistent with how the brand name is offered
- Avoid abbreviating your brand name; there is no tangible benefit to abbreviations
- Promote how to discover your brand on smart speakers; educate the audience.
The uptake of Smart Speakers and the evolution of technology once again prove that effective branding is always an essential part of building a successful product. Google have said that, as much as 50% of all search in the next couple of years could be voice-initiated search – that is scale that simply can’t be ignored!
Paul Kaye is Vice President, Product and Talent Development for Rogers in Canada. Paul spends his days working with stations and talent across all formats with a sole focus on helping improve performance and growing the business. Prior to being at Rogers Paul held the role of National Talent Development Director for Newcap Radio and also a Group Programming role in England. Paul is a certified coach and is passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations reach their greatest potential, which is the fuel behind his other project The Talent Lab. Paul lives in Toronto with his wife, 2 dogs and a cat – life is never quiet! You can reach Paul at [email protected]