What’s So Special About Being Special?

By Andy Beaubien, BPR

I was reading an article recently about building brand loyalty. The article described techniques such as playing the hits, re-cycling popular features, etc. Although these programming ideas are good, they will do little to distinguish your station from the rest.

Why do we choose one brand over another? Let’s begin with some basic assumptions:

  1. The consumer is reasonably aware of the various available products in a particular brand line.
  2. The cost of each product in the brand line lies within a reasonably narrow range (plus or minus 25%.)
  3. The consumer has tried a majority of the available brands.

Having satisfied the above criteria, what factors will cause the consumer to choose one product over the rest? The answer is likely to be that one of the products offers something that the others do not. In other words, the chosen product has one or more qualities that make it unique.

Over the years, radio stations have used slogans designed to appeal to a wide market. Even though some of these slogans were rather generic, they initially created a positive impact (for example, the legendary slogan from the 1960’s “and the hits just keep on coming”) In time, almost every station had a variation of the “hits” slogan and the uniqueness of its message was lost.

The lesson is simple: If your brand proposition can be easily copied by a competitor, its value will be short-lived. If your brand proposition is proprietary (unique to your station) it will be much more difficult, if not impossible, for competitors to copy or neutralize your position.

Unique brand properties come in many forms. Popular air personalities are one of the most common examples. Star presenters carve an audience niche of their own and no amount of imitation or duplication will rob them of that position. Popular presenters become an integral part of a station’s brand image.

Some stations are known primarily for their breakfast programs. In some cases, the breakfast program is so popular that it overshadows all of the other station programs. Listeners identify the station as the one with “that fun show in the morning.”

A station’s brand can also be based on music, special programs, local content and so forth. If your station is the classic rock station in the market, it is unlikely that a second classic rock station will be able to take away your position. If most stations in your market rely heavily on network programs, localism may be your unique selling proposition (USP).

At your next staff meeting, pose the question “What is our unique brand attribute and is it easy to describe?” If you fail to reach a consensus, you probably do not have a unique brand attribute.

 

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