Don’t Listen to Anyone Who Says Branding Doesn’t Matter

Don’t Listen to Anyone Who Says Branding Doesn’t Matter

by Tracy Johnson

PD’s and talent that discount the value of branding because of PPM measurement should rethink their position. PPM, of course, measures transactions (actual listening) rather than perceptions (reported listening). But branding still matters.

I understand the theory that branding and positioning is no longer necessary. Since ratings are now transactional (you get credit when the meter picks up the signal).

But that’s incredibly short-sighted. Programmers are rushing to remove clutter and eliminate distractions from the purity of their music flow. 

Does Branding Still Matter?

Jon Coleman at Coleman Insights published an insightful article this week that addresses. Read the article here. The key point is:

I think that PPM may have caused radio programmers to become slaves to the in the moment and lose track of what really builds ratings… what really builds ratings is not eliminating every possible tune out, but rather offering emotion-evoking reasons people can love the station… When we reduce tune outs all we do is maybe save a quarter-hour. We don’t build loyalty. People don’t come back to a station tomorrow because of a reduced tune out today.

Jon is right on target. It’s what I call the PPM-ing of programming. Our collective over-attention to programming tactics out of fear that we will run people off the station has compromised the essence of many radio brands. 

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Many stations lack a meaningful reason to tune in, other than convenience. By removing the reasons to tune out (except those pesky commercials) leaves a faceless, heartless, emotionless listening experience. Over time, listeners lose the habit of coming to us because there are fewer reasons to do so.

Creating powerful, audience-building programming isn’t always PPM-friendly. Attracting passionate fans may actually cause some casual cumers to tune out. That’s an investment in your brand that is essential to survival.

And in the process, are removing brand equity.

How many breaks have you heard this week without station identification? Probably a lot. 

It’s like Crest toothpaste being unconcerned about branding because they benefit by transaction (purchase). They still need to promote, position and market.

And so do you.

Why Branding Still Matters

Listeners are button-punchers. And it’s true that they often don’t know which station they’re listening to. But that doesn’t mean you can just remove all references to the station. It’s insane.

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The key to increasing quarter-hour ratings is attracting repeat tune-in occasions. That happens by forming habits. Habits happen with brand loyalty. And loyalty can’t possibly occur without creative positioning,

Recently, I listened to a morning show for a full hour. It’s a successful station, though the show is not yet established in the market. They are in the introduction phase of their personality life cycle. In the hour, they mentioned the radio station one time. Once.

Asking the thought process, they replied:

We want to get right into the content. The station branding isn’t important. If we can hook the audience on the break, they’ll listen. And if they listen, we get credit.

Logically, they’re right. But they’re never going to get the traction they need to become an important radio show. And the station is losing opportunities to secure repeat tune-in that forms the foundation of sustained ratings success.

Brand it. Sell it. Position it. Win it.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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