What Makes A Brand Great?

By David Kidd, BPR

Branding is important for every company, especially radio stations. The station’s “brand” or at least its perception in the minds of the listeners not only creates a memorable impression but it allows your listeners and advertisers to know what to expect from your station. It is a way of distinguishing your station from your competitors and defining your product offering.

Put simply, a great radio brand is one that consistently delivers compelling content the audience wants and effectively differentiates itself in a positive way from other stations in the market. But that is a lot easier said than done.

Some important characteristics that make a brand great include:

  • A clear, compelling, and unique brand promise that is effectively communicated to the listeners. Those three words are important:
    • clear i.e., concise, and easy to understand.
    • compelling i.e., captivating because the audience wants it
    • unique i.e., no one else is doing it


  • A great radio brand is consistent in every aspect of the station…. music, talent, promotions, messaging, social media, audio & visual identity, and overall listener experience. Every song must fit within your brand promise. If your promise is “90s to Now” …. do not play any 80s. Listeners are not stupid.


  • Strong emotional connection. A great brand creates a strong emotional connection with its audience, evoking feelings of trust, loyalty and even love.


  • Authenticity builds trust with the audience by being honest and transparent about what the station promises to do and delivering on it. Any brand can make promises via marketing, but the best deliver on those promises and earn the trust of their customers as well as the community. Amazon is a perfect example of a brand that has earned the trust of its customers by being authentic.


  • A great station continuously strives to innovate and improve its content and position to stay ahead of the competition. That’s why strategic and music research are vital to a brand’s success.


  • Staying relevant to your listeners is crucial to a station’s brand. You must understand and respond to their changing needs and preferences. Zapoleon’s Music Cycles are a great example of the everchanging listeners’ tastes. See above re strategic and music research. How can you super serve your audience if you don’t know what they want now?


  • A great brand is able to communicate its promise in a believable way and always delivers on that promise. This goes hand in hand with authenticity.


  • What is your station’s USP? If you don’t have one, then your brand images will be weak.


  • Adaptability is important to a brand’s success as it allows for the station to evolve with the changes in the market and listener needs. Your station’s brand is then perceived as, to use an oft quoted term, “keeping up with the times”.


Perhaps it’s time to do a complete and objective audit of your station’s brand. This must include not just what’s happening on air but also marketing, social media and other platforms. Everything must be aligned. And please start with the research…. drill down on exactly what it is the listeners want. Remember, selling something no one’s buying is an exercise in futility.



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