Tag Archives: brand

Taylor Swift’s Brilliant Coronavirus Pivot

Tuesdays With Coleman

Brands around the world have been feverishly trying to figure out how to pivot during the age of COVID-19. How should we change our offerings? What tone of voice should we use? How should it look?

Enter the master of the moment, Taylor Swift.

Swift’s transition from Country darling to Pop superstar is well documented. From 2006-2010, she sold millions of albums and won countless awards with her sweet, melodic Pop Country sound. 2012’s Red was the transition album that led to 1989 two years later, her straight-ahead Pop album.

The releases of the three monster Pop albums in a five-year span–1989, Reputation and Lover–were lessons in large-scale, bombastic (and effective) marketing. Swift teased 1989 on social media in August 2014. She did a live stream. She teased the artwork. There were “secret” listening sessions in hotel rooms. Songs were “leaked” early.

A few fortunate fans got to join Taylor Swift at secret listening sessions around album releases.

There was no marketing let-up on Reputation or Lover, including more secret sessions, partnerships with UPS and Amazon, an exclusive playlist on Spotify, a new line of clothing and her own music festival, Lover Fest, which, until the pandemic derailed plans, was to play stadiums this summer.

Now, Taylor Swift has delivered a master class on how to pivot your brand in a crisis. In a world filled with marketing extremes–either brands running over-cliched ad campaigns or ignoring the pandemic altogether–Taylor Swift did something so smart, you’d almost think it was done by accident.

She released her new album, Folklore with no fanfare at all.

The album was announced 16 hours prior to its availability. There were no singles released early to promote it. According to Swift, “My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.”

That’s one multi-million dollar gut.

Go figure–the one without the hype, Folklore is Swift’s seventh consecutive album to debut with over 500,000 pure sales, a new Billboard record. 80.6 million streams in one day on Spotify is a record for a female artist. In fact, Swift’s quick album drop as opposed to her previous lead-up hype may be perfectly tailored (“Taylored”?) for today’s streaming consumption behavior. The album is a critical darling.

Taylor Swift mastered the moment because she recognized and mirrored the mood of her audience. So much content we’re currently seeing and hearing was, of course, recorded long ago–they couldn’t have predicted where we’d be today. Folklore feels in the moment because it was recorded during the pandemic.

What techniques can your brand adopt from the “Folklore” launch?

  • Do something surprising. No one saw this album coming, so it felt like a gift, which made it feel more special.
  • Dial down the hype. Be wary of overloading with information because we have so much coming at us from every angle.
  • Be an Outside Thinker. When you put yourself in your consumer’s shoes, you win. From the stripped down music to the lessened hype to the somber black and white photo shoot, everything about the Folklore release feels like a recognition of where the listener is emotionally.

From Taylor Swift’s black and white Folklore photo shoot Credit: Beth Garrabrant

When will it be time to get back to normal and flip the old hype machine switch back on?

We can’t be sure, but you can bet Taylor Swift will know when it’s time.

The Line Extension Trap

Tuesdays With Coleman

The following blog was written this past February and was originally scheduled for publication in March. After COVID-19 hit, our Tuesdays With Coleman blogs shifted to content focused on the crisis. When most stores were forced to close due to the pandemic, I wondered if this blog would come across as insensitive and untimely.

Ultimately I decided to run it because a) branding challenges are evergreen, whether the country is in a pandemic or not; b) it serves as something of a time capsule, me taking notes in a store without wearing a mask or fear of catching something.

I was beer shopping with my friend Andy recently when he stopped and stared back and forth at two packages at the shelf. “I’m no branding expert,” he said. “But this is weird.”

These were the two packages he was looking at:

“They both say Fat Tire, but only one is Fat Tire. The yellow one is a completely different beer.”

Indeed it is. One is the original Fat Tire, an amber-colored malty ale launched in 1991. The other, a Belgian wheat, is a completely different style, gold colored and citrusy.

I really like New Belgium Brewing beers and they generally come with their own unique names. But in this case, the brewery went with a line extension of the flagship Fat Tire brand.

According to marketing strategist Al Ries, “Line extension is a loser’s game. It doesn’t usually work, but even if it does, it almost always damage the core brand.”

There was that time recently when my wife and I popped into Macy’s, and saw the signs for “Macy’s Backstage.”

The idea of a department store having its own lower-priced outlet is not unusual in and of itself.

There’s Saks Off 5th, Nordstrom Rack, REI Garage and Gap Factory to name a few. But Macy’s Backstage isn’t in an outlet mall, or even another location. It’s inside Macy’s! The real Macy’s is on the other side of that mirror!

A few things happened in my brand perception of Macy’s that day.

I was distracted from the Macy’s shopping experience. Rather than search through Macy’s for deals, I got lost in “Backstage” looking for deals. Once I ventured to the other side of the mirror, I found myself comparing Macy’s prices against themselves, because some similar products were priced drastically different–in the same store! And Macy’s Backstage didn’t always have the best deal.

The checkout aisle was loaded with things like a vending machine, candy and stuffed animals. Is this Marshall’s or Macy’s?

On a clearance rack, I found:

  • A heated steering wheel cover;
  • Kenneth Cole underwear;
  • A Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. hat;
  • A resistance band;
  • Two Nike wallets.

This looks like something I might find at Kohl’s, but I just have a hunch like they might separate underwear, a wheel cover and a resistance band into different sections.

And I definitely would not have expected to find a Bubba Gump hat and wheel cover at Macy’s.

But, you may say, this is Macy’s Backstage, not Macy’s!

Therein lies one of the dangers of line extension. I’m going to mentally associate the two because they share the name. The fact that the two stores are literally in the same space only exacerbates the association.

Let’s say you walk into Nordstrom Rack and find some good deals but still determine the clothes are Nordstrom-level quality. Your perception of the Nordstrom brand is likely not eroded.

Would the same be true if you found Nordstrom Rack loaded with Jordache, Fruit-of-the-Loom and Bubba Gump hats?

It would not.

The point is, you must treat your brand with delicate care. Brand erosion is generally a slow process that is hard to come back from and opens up opportunities for focused competitors. It’s also why tracking your brand in perceptual research is so important.

Even Bubba Gump knows the power of brand focus. Sure, he serves a lot of different styles in many different ways.

But, you know what? It’s all shrimp.

Stay-At-Home Run: How Your Sports Radio Brand Can Thrive When Sports Return

Tuesdays With Coleman

Judging from the sweat that immediately surfaces under my cloth mask during my daily walks, summer has arrived in Washington, DC. To be perfectly honest, I’m not the biggest fan of summer. I dislike heat and humidity. I have a sizable and beloved jacket collection. I am unusually susceptible to mosquito bites. But there are things I do love about summer. The beach. Steamed blue crabs in Old Bay.

And baseball.

I am not a huge fan of watching baseball on television. Doesn’t do it for me. And I honestly don’t care about scores, even though I want my home team to win. What I love about baseball is being there—I love the crowd, the collective excitement, the thrill of a stolen base or a home run, the hot dogs. The beer.

There’s been a ton of discussion these days about sports and how they will be handled once the country starts to open up on a larger scale. Experts aren’t sure when it will be safe to attend a baseball game in a stadium, but in most cases they’re pretty sure it won’t be for a while and that a ton of expensive precautions will have to be taken. At this point there’s a lot we don’t know, but we do know that we’re not ready yet and won’t be for some time. Personally, I don’t expect to attend a baseball game for at least another year.

The Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played in an empty stadium on April 29, 2015 due to Freddie Gray protests in the city.

Does that mean I’ll watch a game on TV? For me, probably not. An empty stadium fills me with sadness and dread. Without the noise, it all falls flat.

So what’s a baseball fan to do? Well, as I, a known media history buff, like to say, maybe everything old is new again.

I’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men lately (by the time this blog post is published, it won’t be on Netflix anymore, sorry people), and something in Season 4, Episode 7 (“The Suitcase”) caught my attention. In that episode, Don and Peggy go to a bar and listen to the historic 1965 Ali-Liston fight, the one where Ali knocked out Liston in the first round. Our heroes aren’t paying attention to the whole thing– they’re nursing their drinks, they’re talking about all kinds of serious topics that require spoiler tags, but when the announcers get excited the way great play-by-play announcers do, they sit straight up on their barstools.

Mad Men’s Don and Peggy listen to the Ali-Liston fight on the radio while chatting at a bar in Season 4’s “The Suitcase”.

This is how a lot of entertainment has been for me these past couple of months. I have loved listening to what I used to experience in person. Jazz brunches. Comedy sets. Classical concerts. Lectures from the New York Public Library. All from the comfort of my own home. Sometimes my attention gets diverted, sometimes I need a bathroom break, sometimes I need a refill on my Old Fashioned, and that’s all okay because I’m at home. And the temperature can be whatever I want it to be.

It is a pleasure and a real privilege to be able to enjoy these things at home. But when it comes to baseball, I really want the in-person experience.

Baseball may not be played in 2020 because of disagreements between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association. Whenever it does return, a recent article in Inside Radio outlines how sports executives are planning to handle baseball play-by-play and create safe experiences for announcers as well as exciting moments for listeners. Of course, play-by-play hasn’t gone away and has continued to be important to stations and to many fans, even in “normal” times. I would argue that with stadiums empty and the visual experience significantly altered, play-by-play on the radio is going to be critical as players hit the diamond again.

So how can you take advantage of these unusual times? For your radio station, I would take it a few steps beyond broadcasting the game—make play-by-play an at-home event. Use the new entertainment routines we’ve established to be there for your loyal listeners and for those of us who are sorely missing our in-person experience.

Partner with a local spot where people can order their hot dogs and popcorn at a discount before the game. Run a social media contest where listeners post photos of (properly socially distanced) listening parties on Instagram with a customized hashtag. Disturbed by the idea of canned crowd noise? Make it fun—play the noise from a big historical game and make listeners guess what it is. Some lucky contest winner might get a bushel of blue crabs delivered to their door, complete with newspaper, Old Bay and cold Natty Boh, to be enjoyed at home while the Orioles trounce the Yankees (#hottake #dontatme #gobirds).

All of these ideas would serve your brand. You are the destination for your local team, and you are there for local fans. You know that times are different and people are missing out, so you want to help them enjoy games just as much, if not more, than they did last summer. You can use this opportunity to draw in new listeners who hadn’t thought about experiencing the games the way people did before TV was ubiquitous.

It may not be the same experience, but it can be a new experience… one that takes its cues from an old one that should never be forgotten.

Bring back baseball!

Flippant About Formats

Tuesdays With ColemanEver feel like you’re chasing formats?

Sometimes you hear about radio stations that change formats after trying one for a year or two, or even after just a few months. You may know of stations that have flipped formats multiple times in a calendar year. Maybe this time the lucky number will come up.

One thing the COVID-19 crisis should remind us of is the power of brands.

As always, listeners choose stations based on the need the brand fulfills, a choice often based on perceptions built over time. This can be even more noticeable in times like this, when many listeners are relying on radio to get them through.

You can’t expect stations that stay in one format for short periods of time to be able to build deep, lasting brand perceptions that influence behavior.

Images are like icebergs. Slow to develop, slow to erode. That also means a station that served one need for a long time but then made a programming change is subject to pre-learned interference. That’s when a brand has trouble developing new images because its existing images are so ingrained.

Iceberg

Images are like icebergs. Slow to develop, slow to erode.

That’s also why it is so challenging for a station to try to make significant programming shifts while keeping the same name. If you went to buy Velveeta and found the label on a block of real, authentic organic cheddar cheese, you probably wouldn’t buy it. That’s not what you expect from Velveeta.

If Velveeta decided it was strategically committed to becoming an organic product, it would need to devote a significant amount of energy and money to re-branding itself. Most of all, assuming it was a good product, it would need to give customers time to get used to associating Velveeta with organic cheese. So radio stations, just like the hypothetical Velveeta, have to think carefully about: a) how critical and potentially beneficial the change is; b) if it can be effectively done without a name change, even with large resources; and c) whether it is worth the return on investment.

Remember how precious your brand is. You see it in this moment as listeners choose “the most trusted” news station or the “most relaxing” Adult Contemporary station or the Hip Hop station “most connected to the community.” They don’t choose fleeting brands, they choose brands that mean something to them. As we outlined in How to Connect With Your Audience in a Crisis, you absolutely should be modifying your programming during this time. But, it is important to consider the role of your brand in those modifications.

This crisis will pass, but the need for strong brands will not. Always make informed decisions about your format and brand carefully, with the understanding that being flippant about formats is never the road to long-lasting success.

What’s Your Word?

Tuesdays With Coleman

My favorite marketing book of all-time is “Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It” by strategist Al Ries, and one of the most important lessons in the book involves one simple question.

Focus Al Ries

What’s your word?

Consumers make product decisions on words, not visuals.

When you look at or think about products, you don’t spend as much time evaluating them as you might think. You gravitate to the products that fit what you think you need and select the one that is most strongly associated with the need. This is where owning a word can drive a decision.

Words can determine how you’re perceived within your category or if you are perceived at all. In automotive, for example, Lexus is luxury. Volvo is safety. Despite the fact that many cars are just as safe as Volvo and some have done better in safety tests, Volvo still owns the word. My son just bought one, without even looking at other brands.

Volvo owns the image for safety

Although other automotive brands have improved their safety ratings, Volvo’s brand image for the word is strong enough to withstand it

Sometimes a big brand owns the most important word for a category, like Starbucks for coffee. In that case, you need an idea that differentiates you and the best way to do that is with a single word, not a long drawn out concept.

Domino’s was second in pizza to Pizza Hut until it took the word “fast”. That was great until it got scared off by issues of driver safety. Jimmy John’s now owns the word “fast” for delivery because Domino’s gave it up.

Word association works for radio stations, too. For music stations, your word needs to be the first to come to mind.

There’s a reason why so many stations in the Adult Contemporary universe use the name “Mix”. The name itself can aid the perception of variety.

Whether in name or positioning, the word listeners use to define your station must be simple and clear. “That’s the variety station.” “That’s the oldies station.” “That’s the rock station.”

When your brand is strong and you own a word, it becomes synonymous with the category.

If your radio station is solidly known as the variety station, it will be extremely difficult for another station to take the position away.

If you don’t have a word, think about words that might still be available that radio stations have never pursued or walked away from. Words that were once considered “too narrow” may be perfect for our modern over-communicated world.

If the format leader owns the category word, there are other options. Your station can have a word to own for part of the category.

For example, two Adult Contemporary stations can’t own the Mix/variety image. So perhaps it’s a word like “soft” or “easy” or “lite” or “upbeat” (e.g., “makes you feel good.”)

It may be challenging to own the word “Rock” but perhaps you can own “Classic Rock,” or “Hard Rock” or 80s and 90s Rock.

Your morning show might well be served to own a word too, and it starts by determining what image you want it to own.

Do you want it to be thought of as the funniest? Most outrageous? The most authentic?

To do this, you have to use the same Outside Thinking principles that guide station images. For example, if your station has an image for playing 80s music and you’re trying to capture 90s images, adding an extra 90s song or two won’t do it. You must use specific language that tells the audience the station now plays 90s music.

In the same way, it is not enough for a morning show to be funny. The word needs to dominate sweepers, promos, the show open and close, and so on. It might be “the funniest morning show in Phoenix.” Or, “now, more from Denver’s laugh-out-loud morning show.” Or, “The (name) Morning Show. The one that makes you LOL.”

If the show is meant to be a friendly companion, say that. Controversial? Say that.

And, say it with enough regularity to matter. There is not enough time in your listeners’ busy lives to think they will pick up subtlety.

Once your show owns a word, a show that tries to compete for the same image will be seen as an inferior copycat.

The importance of owning a word is more important than ever.

As digital media consumption increases, you may find your word begin to show up in places other than AM/FM radio.

If you don’t defend your word…or worse, if you don’t have one at all, it’s time to head for the hills.

Be the Fan Favorite

Tuesdays With Coleman

It’s an easy trap to fall into. And it happens in politics, radio and brand marketing. We market ourselves and our products under the assumption that people make rational decisions based on key issues or features that we recognize as being important to the majority.

A politician may say “I support border protection, gun control and gay marriage—issues important to most Americans. Where are the votes?”

A programmer may say “We are playing 20% more 80s than our competitor, have $1,000 giveaways every hour and hour-long music sweeps. Where are the listeners?”

Why aren’t they winning?

In his new book “Why We’re Polarized,” Ezra Klein theorizes that people vote based upon emotion and connection to a group. Not rationally or tied to specific issues.

Why We're Polarized by Ezra Kline

We like to be part of a movement. We cheer for the underdog, we “feel the Bern.” There is a lot of power in this group psychology. Once they’ve joined a group or become a “fan,” committed partisans will rationalize almost anything done by their “team.”

The Cleveland Browns lost every game between December 24, 2016 and September of 2018, but their fans stuck by them. That’s 635 days without a win. Browns fans love their team—through thick and thin.

Cleveland Browns end losing streak

We forgive Google’s trespasses into our personal data because their Super Bowl commercials give us all the feels. Never mind that they are creepily using our information to sell us products, they can help us remember family members we have lost. So sweet, love them.

Your favorite Starbucks gets your order wrong and you find yourself apologizing to them. Maybe you weren’t clear?

Where’s the emotional connection to radio? What happened to the power of the group, the feeling that I want to “vote” for this station? It’s lost in all the technical details we focus on!

While playing 12 songs in a row may build a valuable music quantity image, don’t mistakenly think that’s what will turn casual listeners into fans.

Rather than focusing on the minutiae of your station, infuse it with emotion. Bring it to life for your audience. Create a team environment. Start a movement.

Once you connect with your audience emotionally and convert them into “fans,” your listeners will forgive that extra commercial per hour or the not-quite-perfect music mix.

As my colleague Sam Milkman has said, “When we start feeling and stop gaming, we will reach greater heights.”

Disney+, Decision Paralysis and Your Brand

Tuesdays With Coleman

Just when you thought you didn’t need another entertainment option, Disney+ has proven you wrong.

At least 10 million people agreed when they added the new streaming service…in the first 24 hours it was available.

I was one of the 10 million and as we watched The Mandalorian (OMG, Baby Yoda!) and browsed the treasure trove of content including choices from Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and even National Geographic, my 16-year-old son looked in my eyes and said, “This is going to be a real problem for me.”

Baby Yoda is the cutest thing in The Mandalorian

Just debuting a new Star Wars show will generate buzz for Disney’s new streaming platform, but adding a Baby Yoda isn’t even fair.

It’s a real problem for everyone. Back in the summer of 2018, my colleague Sam Milkman wrote about the continuing fragmentation of entertainment options. His contention was that because of the amount of choice, we simply don’t have as many shared experiences anymore. We’re talking about different shows on different platforms, which means we’re not hitting critical mass, which makes it harder and harder to grow organically and break through. Sam’s keys to content becoming something everyone is talking about is a) it sounds and feels new and unique; b) it generates high levels of passion and c) it changes the paradigm.

We know this challenge isn’t going to get easier for entertainment brands, but new research validates what my son is feeling. According to Nielsen, 18- to 34-year-olds spend as much as nine minutes just trying to figure out what to watch, a phenomenon referred to as “decision paralysis.” And that’s just video streaming. What about the audio options, like radio, Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio? And the 750,000 podcasts available to listen to right now?

The decision paralysis facing video streaming users has inspired the launch of services like JustWatch and Decider, which make finding that show or movie you’re looking for searchable in one place.

JustWatch makes searching for TV shows and movies easier

What can audio brands do amidst this endless sea of options?

Sam’s advice still applies. It’s easier said than done, but it’s important to find ways to differentiate, build a cult following and break new ground.

Additionally:

  1. Branding and strategic research has never been more important.

If you’re primarily focused on tactical measures, you’re going to miss the opportunity to properly define your brand and ensure the content fits the brand. Listeners will not choose your brand because of a promotion or because you’ve tried to game the ratings. They will choose it because the brand relates to them.

  1. Simple messaging is more critical than ever.

Focused messaging has always been important. But there’s never been this much noise. Warren Kurtzman recently shared new research that validates the need for focus in his blog post, “Too Many Messages!”

  1. It’s crucial to make your brand easy to consume.

There’s some irony in that radio and TV are often meant to provide escapism from the chaos of the real world, but now we’ve added chaos to the process of escaping. If your radio station or podcast is perceived as easy to find, easy to use, simple to understand and comfortable to listen to, it may have an advantage by truly providing shelter from the storm.

Your listeners need relief from decision paralysis. Will you help them?

As OG Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

The Magic of Memorable

Tuesdays With Coleman

“Be memorable.”

Easier said than done, being memorable is one the greatest brand challenges there is. But, it could be argued, being memorable is quite literally the most important thing to your brand.

There are so many burger joints these days in my city, it’s hard to keep track. But when I want a really good burger, there are only three or four I consider. They are my personal top-of-mind restaurants in the burger category. For a new burger joint to elevate to top-of-mind status, a disruption has to take place.

One example: a friend takes me to a new restaurant, and it serves a burger I’ve never seen on any other menu, anywhere. Let’s call it the “Triple Kobe Avocado Burger.” I order it, it blows my mind, and I start telling friends about the new place in town with the Triple Kobe Avocado Burger.

This burger joint didn’t become top-of-mind just because someone took me there. It became top-of-mind because it did something memorable when I got there.

Another example: A new restaurant deploys a marketing campaign that grabs my attention. Maybe it’s a 500 free burgers on opening day. Maybe it’s a podcast with the chef who describes his process so intriguingly, I can’t help but try it. Maybe it’s a billboard with a giant message that says “YOU DON’T WANT THIS BURGER” and then in small print, “You’ll get addicted!”

Now it’s top-of-mind. Not because the restaurant did a marketing campaign. Because the campaign was memorable.

Designer Mathew Levinson’s concept for The Burger Cellar in Toronto displays their product on an attention-grabbing “half-eaten” billboard.

The undeniable importance of top-of-mind awareness is the reason why every customized Plan Developer study we design at Coleman Insights starts with a measurement of Unaided Awareness. It is fundamentally essential when we ask, “Please tell us the names of as many radio stations in your area as you can remember, regardless of whether you listen to them,” that your radio station makes the cut.

Awareness » Consumption » Loyalty

You can’t have brand consumption without first having awareness, and you certainly can’t have loyalty without consumption.

The best path to awareness is by being memorable.

Other important images that are tested in perceptual research all come back to memorability. Memorable personalities. Memorable features. Memorable imaging.

The burger joint example applies to every brand. It applies to how you choose where to eat, where to play golf, what beer to drink, stores to shop in, and yes, which radio stations and podcasts to listen to.

Is it harder than ever to be memorable? Sure. Thinking consumers have “heard everything” and “seen it all? I understand how you might feel that way.

But I promise you, there’s always a new way to present a message that grabs the consumer’s attention.

Recently, while his colleague read the safety instructions seasoned travelers have heard a million times, a flight attendant on WestJet acted out the safety demonstration while passengers watched attentively and giggled.

Shared on LinkedIn, the video has been viewed over 3 ½ million times.

Team Coleman logs a fair amount of travel each year, so we’ve seen our share of safety demonstrations. It often feels like nobody pays attention to the safety demonstration anymore. That tends to happen when you hear the message the same way every time. From burgers to broadcasting, from airlines to podcasting, the lesson is the same. Don’t deviate from your message, but challenge yourself to present the message in new, unique and memorable ways.

There’s magic (and results) in being memorable.

Seven Solutions for the Podcasting Brand Challenge

Tuesdays With Coleman

If you read the last two installments of Tuesdays With Coleman, you are aware of the brand-building challenges that exist in the podcasting space. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Joe Rogan is the biggest brand in podcasting, but that only 14% of monthly podcast listeners are aware of him on an unaided basis. Last week, we revealed new podcast research that indicated none of the top 20 most-listened-to podcasts are familiar to at least half of all monthly podcast listeners.

None of this is terribly surprising given the nascent and highly fragmented nature of the medium. Nonetheless, for any podcast that seeks out mass appeal success, building a brand is a necessity.

Fortunately, there is a route to building strong podcast brands, as my colleague John Boyne and I shared in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” presentation at last week’s massive Podcast Movement conference in Orlando. The first step on that route is to recognize that if you are engaged in podcasting, you need to go beyond content creation and think like a marketer. If you do, you will take an Outside Thinking approach to the medium and recognize that (a) you must teach people about podcasting, (b) combining great content with strong branding is crucial for success and (c) such success is not measured by download or listener counts but by having satisfied listeners.

Coleman Insights presenting at Podcast Movement

John Boyne and Warren Kurtzman presenting “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” at Podcast Movement

This means that you need to go beyond telling listeners, “Download wherever you get your podcasts,” and be more specific about where they can get your content. Your podcast’s website should go beyond that and provide step-by-step instructions for finding, downloading and listening to your podcasts.

Here are seven ways to build your podcasting brand:

 

  1. Have your elevator pitch down.

If you can’t succinctly articulate what your podcast is about, why people should listen to it and what differentiates it from other podcasts, it will be very difficult to build a brand. Once you do have that pitch, be sure to communicate it frequently, even to your existing listeners.

Another way to think like a marketer is to:

 

  1. Give your podcast a memorable name.

Your podcast needs to stand out among the more than 700,000 active podcasts competing for listeners’ attention. Does your podcast have a name that is searchable and memorable? If not, change it.

Building a strong brand also necessitates taking advantage of the fact that podcasting is an aural medium; great audio brands have their own unique sound and feel. Some of the best ones:

 

  1. Use jingles and other mnemonic devices that help consumers remember them.

Beyond jingles and mnemonic devices, there are things you can do with your podcast’s content that help with brand building. One is:

 

  1. Utilize a consistent structure.

This is important because meeting consumer expectations is crucial to building a brand, a reality for virtually every category of products and services. Examples of such consistency include making sure that your podcast follows a regular release schedule and having the flow of your podcast’s content follow a similar pattern with each episode.

Taking this a step further, your podcast should:

 

  1. Utilize benchmarks, recurring segments or features.

Think along the lines of David Letterman’s signature “Top Ten” lists or Jimmy Fallon writing “Thank You Notes” every Friday night.

Another content-based practice that helps with the brand building process is to:

 

  1. Make sure your topics are on target.

The topics you cover on your podcast should be not only of interest to your target audience but also aligned with what they expect from you. This does not mean that you can never deviate from those expectations, but when you do, you better make sure your content execution is outstanding.

 

Finally, we should not ignore that even if you think like a marketer and have all these things—a strong elevator pitch, a searchable and memorable name, mnemonic devices, consistent structure, benchmarks and on-target topics—your podcast’s ability to build a strong brand will require that you:

 

  1. Advertise your podcast.

Don’t despair, however, if your budget won’t allow for billboards in Times Square or television spots during the Super Bowl. A good marketer recognizes that there are many ways to get the word out about a product or service beyond traditional media advertising, with social media (paid and organic), being promoted on other podcasts, endorsements, cultivating reviews, your own website, search engine optimization, content marketing and public relations all representing other options for building a brand.

 

If you weren’t in the audience in Orlando (or you loved our presentation so much you want to see it again!), I’m happy to announce that Coleman Insights will host a free webinar at 2:00 PM EDT on Thursday, September 12th, when John and I will re-present “Outside Thinking for Podcasts,” which will cover many of the suggestions above in more detail. Click here to sign up for the webinar today!

Joe Rogan and the Podcasting Brand Challenge

Tuesdays With Coleman

Yesterday you may have seen news coverage of our podcast research data about the Unaided Awareness levels of the leading podcast brands. Our press release covered the “sexy” part of our findings, specifically that Joe Rogan has the biggest brand in podcasting.

The less sexy, but far more important aspect of our findings pertains to what we’re learning about brand development in the podcasting space. Next week, my colleague John Boyne and I will be sharing more about what we have learned in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” session at the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando, but in advance of that, we would like to add to the discussion around podcast brand development here.

At Coleman Insights, we are bullish about podcasting. It represents a great opportunity for the many talented content creators in the radio industry to leverage their expertise and expand it to a new growing platform, while also providing an opportunity for fresh, new voices to enter the audio entertainment space.

The ultimate success of the industry, however, will depend on its ability to build brands. By that, we mean brands that are well-known, that are perceived as providing content that is compelling to large numbers of consumers and that are associated with attributes with which consumers want to affiliate.

To date, such brand building has been awfully slow.

While the sexy headline from the podcast research data we recently reached was about Joe Rogan, the bottom line is that only 14% of monthly podcast users are aware of Joe and his show, even though his podcast has been available for a decade. The more significant finding of our podcast research, however, is that Rogan’s relatively low Unaided Awareness level dwarfs that of any other podcast. In fact, none of the four other podcasts that finished among the five best-known in our podcast research—Serial, The Daily, This American Life or My Favorite Murder—achieve Unaided Awareness levels above 6%.

In fact, our research finds that podcast users are about as likely to mention a platform or a category when asked to name podcasts as they are to mention a “big” podcast brand like Serial or The Daily. For example, 5% of podcast users mention NPR when asked to name a podcast; 4% of them say “music” and 3% say “sports.” A parallel here would be to ask people who use streaming television to name shows and have them answer Netflix or Hulu instead of Stranger Things or Orange Is The New Black.

Podcasting Unaided Awareness

By contrast, in most research we conduct with radio listeners, it is not unusual for individual station brands to exceed Unaided Awareness levels of 50% or more. One can certainly argue that most of these radio brands have multi-decade head starts on podcasts when it comes to brand building, but such an argument misses the point. No matter how great a podcast’s content is, its ability to attract an audience will depend on people knowing about it and having—at a minimum—the “big idea” of what the podcast stands for in their minds.

How does a podcast build a brand? We hope you can join John and me at Podcast Movement next week when we share how applying Outside Thinking can make that happen.