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Your radio station is a friend – don’t suffocate your listeners with overbranding.

If you have ever been a presenter how many times have you heard ‘you must play a sweeper between every song’ and ‘start and end every link with the station name’. All tried and tested ways to get ticks in that Rajar diary.

I’ve always felt that a truly confident station, comfortable in its own skin, can afford to be a little more real than this. Your station is doing one thing only, talking with your listeners. Imagine a friend going into a pub and starting the drinks order with their name and then ending it the same way. Well that would be pretty annoying, and you would soon be laughing, yet programme directors are always saying ‘be real’ it is a rather a disconnect.

I often listen around and hear stations where I wonder if anybody has worked out what the brand is supposed to be. I was minded to write this post after listening to a station last week. For illustration let’s call the station Brand FM. In ONE junction it went like this:

Presenter ends link “and that’s all coming up on Brand FM”

This goes into jingle ramp that sings Brand FM

Then a sponsor credit “Drivetime on Brand FM with XXX”

THEN to top it off a promo “all next week on Brand FM”

Four mentions of the station name in a row and in under 15 seconds. Remember ‘be real’.

Now if you think about this there are far smarter ways to deliver this junction. Remember a junction like this is heading into possibly four minutes of commercials so you really want it to feel as smooth and painless as possible.

Step One – Allow the presenter to mention name by all means but exchange the jingle ramp for a musical logo of the sing that represents the brand name. This also builds in a musical buffer before the sponsor credit.

Step Two - Have confidence to allow the sponsor credit to simply mention the the programme “Drivetime on Brand FM with xx.

Step Three – invest time with the guys who are writing the sponsor promos, set them the challenge to be really creative in the first line of the script with content and not meaningless brand mentions – get that station name in when you’ve told the listener why this promotion is going to be the best thing ever.

And while we are on the subject DO avoid pointless, technical babble.

In association with can be ‘with’

Brought to you by can be ‘with’

With our friends at can be ‘with’

Teamed up with can be ‘with’

You probably get the point!

As radio stations fight harder for market share just telling listeners what they are listening to more and more doesn’t really cut it. The market place is becoming more sophisticated, digital radios often tell you what you are listening to, on portable devices like smart speakers you have to know what you are listening to in order to tell them. Again, phone apps – you made the decision to stat the station streaming – you know the name.

Of course branding is important, its essential for survival but your radio station is a friend, your listeners love it and have an affinity with it. Take every opportunity you can to make the station feel real, not cluttered and confident. Use tricks such as musical logos to say things without actually saying a word! Your station will feel smoother, more inviting and classier.

Mark Hall is founder of The Audio Creator and as Head of Production for the UK’s Heart Network delivered the on air rebrand of the complete One Network to Heart in three stages. Mark devised the production rebrand strategy migrating stations seamlessly from individual names to a single Heart brand.

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