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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Getting to a bigger brand

It’s one of the questions I’m asked most often when I meet radio people in other countries: “you’re from the UK – what are the biggest stations there?”

Here’s an answer, at least if you accept that a radio brand is what listeners commonly take to be “a station” and you agree total listening hours is the right proxy for size:

Click for big

Another answer is based on the way brands are bundled for advertisers. And the two can be very different.

For example, Bauer’s Hits Network comprises 22 different brands including its recently-launched Greatest Hits service.

Sold together, it’s the UK’s second largest commercial radio network. But all its constituent parts mean you’d never know it from the chart above. Not yet, anyway.

Change is hard to manage, but so are mixed-brand networks. They’re messy, confusing and can be inefficient. They distract from the big picture, they’re difficult to promote and they stand between you and critical mass.

In South Africa and Ghana my clients are not permitted to run a single brand across multiple local licenses – every individual station must have its own identity.

Who knows what Bauer plans with it’s new supersized network but the UK has no such restrictions. A bigger brand is always possible.

The production opportunity

Change of this kind is both a responsibility and an opportunity for on-air imagers and marketers.

At the sharp end of on-air station writing, production and promotion, our first responsibility is to look after the listeners.

We write in the voice of the station and produce for consistency. We are a constant in people’s lives.

A period of change is the best time to use that remarkably close and valuable relationship to take listeners by the hand and give them the confidence to follow our lead.

We maximise audience through change by exciting with what’s new while also insulating against loss. It takes great craft skill but also a human respect for the audience.

The digital world loves to follow, track and target – it literally uses the language of hunting animals and covert surveillance to describe its relationship with audiences, whom it calls ‘users’.

On the radio we’re just a trusted friend who can share a good deal of pleasure through human company.

If you’re producing station sound through brand change it’s time to be the kind of friend you’d want to follow to a brighter, shinier future.