Who’s afraid of the big brand wolf?
To listen to some commentators you’d think the recent growth of branded radio in the UK means the spirit and essence of radio broadcasting has gone forever.
Of course a dreary economic outlook forces radio groups to make savings. Fewer people now work in professional British radio. Individual stations have merged under common names. Some have closed.
So it’s easy to view the advent of brand-led radio as the big bad wolf, huffing and puffing until the roof caves in.
But let’s not confuse the implementation effects of a tough business plan with what ought to be the welcome and timely development of properly managed radio brands.
Branded radio can be good for business and good for listeners. Here are three reasons why:
1. A brand is a shortcut to a promise.
A better-managed brand is a clearer promise to listeners and advertisers.
There’s nothing to say that promise can’t include huge amounts of local information and well-known local personalities. It’s just that the station doesn’t have to be named after the nearest river.
2. Brands encourage efficient marketing.
In both the public and commercial sectors we’re all looking for greater returns on our marketing and promotional investment and the clarity of a properly-communicated brand makes marketing and promotions more efficient.
Who wants to be wasting marketing spend or promotional airtime fighting for a positioning? We need to sell and convert… bring new listeners in, hold existing listeners for longer and deepen the relationship with audiences into an emotional, trusted one.
A strong brand will open the door for you. It will do the heavy lifting on perception and understanding, leaving you more airtime and money to shift behaviour and get results.
3. Brands love to extend themselves.
We know this already, thanks to a raft of “Extra” stations now on air, the Classic FM magazine, Capital TV and many many more examples.
An Absolute Radio comedy festival? The Heart health spa? They feel immediately possible because we know what those brands stand for. The strong and durable brands we create today will unlock the revenue streams of the future, from wherever they may come.
I appreciate mine is not a popular view in some UK radio circles but the more I travel, work and read around the world the more I’m convinced that a significant part of radio’s future will be branded and it will be global.
So let’s welcome the presence of brand-led radio in the UK and put some energy into growing the world-beating British radio brands of the next 15 years.