Better Imaging Equals Better Branding

How does your station imaging build your brand?

You’re shopping in your grocery store and see the big yellow cereal box.  You immediately know it is Cheerios.

>   You’re in an unfamiliar locale, and you notice golden arches.  You immediately think of pulling over for a Big Mac.

>   You’re channel surfing, and you see a peacock image in the lower right of the screen; you immediately know you are watching NBC.

>   You’re driving down the road and see a big brown truck.  You know it’s United Parcel Service (UPS).

With Nielsen PPM methodology in larger markets, many stations have decreased the number of times they image themselves.  Some programmers view imaging as a negative that causes listener tune-out.  Rather than re-focusing their imaging, some stations eliminate it based upon thinking brand recall is unnecessary in the metered environment.  Having a unique, memorable brand is vital.  This is certainly the case for listeners who utilize smart speakers or for casual listeners who want to remember what station they just listened to.

Here are nine ways to improve your imaging:

1.   Make your brand name unique and sell it often on-air and off (website, stream, app, etc.).

2.   Promote your position.  How is your brand different from your competitors’?  Sell your brand’s qualities to your target listener – entertaining morning show, music quality (variety), music quantity (fewer commercials), or major contest.

3.   The power of frequency.  Never give up an opportunity to brand the station name.  Eliminate cold segues between songs, and don’t go into stopsets without your brand name. The best placement for your brand name is when the music starts and ends.

4.   Utilize all imaging resources.  Beyond a station voice, use a variety of imaging—jingles, air staff voices, drops from your core artists, audio clips of listeners, celebrities, local leaders, television and movie clips, and music clips—to enhance the imaging.

5.   Write entertaining imaging copy beyond the basic station’s brand and positioning statement.  Humor and other forms of entertaining copy cut through the clutter and are memorable, like Progressive, Farmers, and Geico insurance TV ads.

6.   Frequently freshen your imaging.  People will tune out uninteresting, repetitive messages.  Newness works in getting resonance.  Update your imaging often.

7.  Edit your imaging. The average attention span is under 10 seconds, so you want to get to the meat of your imaging message in the opening line.

8.   Schedule your imaging strategically.  You don’t want to schedule a music imaging piece before commercials, have a station promotion piece between songs in a long sweep, say “the station that rocks” going into a ballad, or schedule a “we play your favorites” imaging piece before a new song.

9.   Don’t overuse imaging in music sweeps.  Rotate your produced imaging with the talent’s voice and jingles between songs.  Many imaging promos between songs tell listeners that the DJ has left the building and the station is a machine. Overusing your station voice leads to your imaging becoming “audio wallpaper,” not resonating with the listener.

John Lund is President of the Lund Media Group, a radio programming, broadcast consulting, and research firm with specialists in all mainstream radio formats. 

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