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A memorable, desirable name for your station

It’s a simple thing, naming a station, right?

We can pick:

A) Call letters with a “Z” or a “Q,” thus becoming “Z”-this or “Q”-that B) A name that says what we do, such as “Classic Rock” C) A piece of local geography D) Something else – if we’re particularly clever

But what is best? What is most desirable for your audience? This problem is obviously not for established stations, but for brand new ones.

has the answer, and it will surprise you.

The researchers classified names into four categories:

1. Common, which are typical and unspecific (e.g., “blue”) 2. Common/Descriptive, which are typical and specific (e.g., “sky blue”) 3. Unexpected/Descriptive, which are not typical but are specific (e.g., “Kermit green”) 4. Ambiguous, which are not typical and not specific (e.g., “millennium orange”)

Their research found that the last two categories are more desirable than the first two to consumers.

Unexpected/Descriptive names create “a puzzle to be solved,” say the authors, “which leads people to consider more aspects of the products, particularly the positive ones.”

Ambiguous names “prompt consumers to try to discover, in the absence of any meaningful information, what the makers of the product were trying to convey with that name. This leads consumers to think about the positive aspects the company is trying to highlight with that name.”

Interestingly, the first two (less effective) items are most of what we use in radio.

“Rock” and “Country,” for example, are good descriptions of what we may do, but they may not be the greatest names for a brand because they create no puzzle and leave nothing to the imagination.

Things with “Z” and “Q” are as common as the alphabet letters they are.

Local landmarks may have regional resonance, but there’s little for the imagination to chew on.

As I have said before, a name is who you are, not what you do.

And a name should be less about where you are than why you are.

It should be anything but common.

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