Nonstop Branding

This is what every radio station should accomplish.

Think of rebranding not as an occurrence, but rather a procedure.
Rebranding is like shifting tectonic plates.
As long as the shifting is a slow nearly imperceptible continuous movement, everything is fine. It is only when the plates freeze up and pressure builds, that shifting becomes violent and damaging.
That’s the way to think about rebranding. You want the changes to be gradual and continuous. If the radio station goes a long time without an update, it is just like two interior continental plates getting stuck. Sooner or later, something’s going to give, and an earthquake erupts.

So the key is to create a continuous rebranding strategy is as follows:

The first thing you need to do is make a list of all the elements that go into creating the station’s identity. Think about what makes the station what it is.

You will be surprised. Virtually every department plays a role in giving the station its distinctive personality. And you will include every one of them as you inventory what needs to be updated when you rebrand.
Here are some starter suggestions:

In programming you’ve got the music–what you play and what you don’t play. Then there are rotations. Rotations, scheduling rules, and flow can have a dramatic impact on how a station sounds even if the library doesn’t vary.
There’s the airstaff. Regardless of the quality of your staff and how long they have been on the air, this too needs to change from time to time. There’s how much they talk, what they talk about, and how they say it.
If you want to change things, move the staff around. Moving people can often have a dramatic effect as replacing people.

Newscasts need to change as more listeners get their headlines from the web. List all the elements of news that need to grow over time.
Don’t forget special programming and weekend shows. Adding an evening feature, a midday gossip show, or some other special program changes the pace of the station, and provides something new to promote and tease.
Every special program should come to an end one day. A show may be doing well, but there’s something out there that’s even better. Find it and move on.
Don’t leave engineering out of the list. Changing the over-all texture of the station should be part of the update. Listen critically to the station. Does the station sound contemporary? Think about the processing chain, consider tweeking the EQ, change the mics.

List all the annual promotions (paid and free). Include annual contests, what you give away and how you give it away. Include remotes, both paid and concerts. Contests like special programming should have a sunset date.
Inventory the station’s marketing. There’s the station name and logo. List the logo’s elements including things like color, fonts, etc.
Change the station’s primary positioning statement and liners. Write them all down and list the dates that they were added. Don’t forget the station voice. That needs to change at regular intervals.
There’s the web site and the dozens of elements on the site. There’s the station’s social media efforts, email.
Once you’ve laid out all the station elements, you’ll find that there are dozens of things you should be regularly changing.

The next step is to lay out a rebranding clock.
You want to rotate the elements of rebranding as if you’re scheduling an hour of music, except instead of an hour, the wheel might be a year or two.
If the station is a CHR, then you want to use a fairly fast rotation. If you are an AC, Country, or some other adult format, you’ll slow down the rotations.
Each month schedule to change something. It might be in marketing one month, programming the next. Schedule changes with sufficient frequency that everything will have changed by the time a year or two rolls around depending on your format.
Coordinate with your sister stations so no two stations are changing the same element at the same time.
With a group, you’ll be able to update and recycle ideas throughout your stations.

A comprehensive list of station elements combined with a schedule of when they need to be updated is the road map for continuous rebranding.
It keeps the station fresh, timely, while building audience loyalty and cume.