All this matters because even Arbitron has come full circle on the power of branding in PPM. If you remember at its beginnings, the conventional wisdom was that branding no longer mattered with meters – it was about actual listening. Thus, many stations cut back on frequency/call letter mentions as well as basic branding.
But the industry got smart in a hurry, and Arbitron clearly acknowledges that without a strong brand foundation, consumers aren’t going to be able to remember what you’re about when it’s time to make the big decision to listen to the radio.
Brands and branding matter.
But your brand is not about “We’re the Country Station” or “Playing favorites from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and Today.” Your brand is comprised of a narrative.
Great radio brands have episodic stories that are rarely, if ever, told.
We often make three big mistakes in radio:
- Our great brands are often ignored because there is another station in the cluster that “needs our attention” more. As a result, the big moneymaker and great brand is often pushed aside when it comes to attention and resources.
- We focus on facts instead of communicating “why” consumers should listen to our stations. A great narrative provides a simple and effective rationale that can connect consumers to your brand.
- We let the audience make up our story, no matter how they skew or warp it. If you still do focus groups, you have seen it with your own eyes. Hearing listeners tell your brand story is almost always filled with mistakes and misconceptions. Great brands provide the audience with the right version of their narratives.
A 3 year-old piece in Fast Company speaks to the importance of storytelling when it comes to brands, and it’s something that everyone in radio should take to heart.
As writer Melinda Partin reminds us, “The goal with corporate-brand storytelling is to transition the consumer from awareness to trial to advocacy. You want people to use your brand to describe their life: A “Windows User,” a “Mac Guy,” a “Honda driver” and so on. Once the consumer adopts a product into his or her personal story, brand exposure increases greatly.”
In radio terms, it might translate to these types of examples:
A KISW “Rockaholic”
A Link fan
A member of WROR’s “At-Work Nation”
She also reminds us that when you’ve built that type of brand equity, consumers are often forgiving when those occasional screw-ups occur. Case in point? Siri and Apple Maps. They fly in the face of Apple perfection, but true fans look past these speed bumps because of their love for the brand.
Melinda also notes that brands have the tools to get their stories out there, especially during radio’s “new normal” where marketing dollars – particularly for market leaders – are in short supply or non-existent. Tools like the email databases, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and sharing are all part of the digital weaponry that radio brands need to master.
Harnessing the power of brand storytelling is the way for radio stations to move from awareness to cume to partisanship to loyalty.
As Partin points out, the key to understanding your brand’s narrative is to understand how the station fulfills your “customer’s emotional needs.” This was an area we dove into in Techsurvey8 (remember “Radio’s Emotional Triggers”), and we will expand our search for more of those emotional underpinnings in Techsurvey9 early in 2013.
Learning how to intelligently integrate social media and other digital tools can help your best brands tell their great stories, and cement their values into the minds and hearts of your audience.
Tell your brand’s story – don’t just fire off positioning statements.
And let your audience share the excitement with their social communities.