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New! The Worst Rebranding in History! And it’s all Radio’s!


Ah, the bullshit has shifted into high gear, as research is used and abused to convince the radio industry that it doesn’t know what the hell it’s talking about.

From Inside Radio:

Research shows Radio Heard Here’s logo and imagery are more retro cool than outdated. The radio industry’s new push to change consumer and advertiser perception of the medium features a lightening-bolt emblazoned logo and ads showing people listening to a boom box with a double cassette deck prominently displayed. That’s drawn some questions about whether the campaign instead reinforces an idea that radio is a relic. Brand strategist Kelly O’Keefe tells Inside Radio “We tested more than 30 logos and had a very strong positive response to this one.” Through a series of focus groups, 74% of respondents found the logo “energetic.” The next highest reaction words were “alive,” “bold” and “fresh.”

Duh. If you put a lightning bolt on a walker, it would be judged “energetic.” Put a lightning bolt on a casket and it will be “bold.” Put a lightning bolt on a circuit board and it will be deemed “alive.”

This is perspective divorced from context – the worst kind of research trash.

The context in radio needs to be considered as feedback is gathered. You can’t view a logo apart from the context in which that logo will be used and apart from the product which will use it.

Lightning bolts go back to the origins of radio, and anytime you talk about a hundred year old origin you are communicating one message: OLD.

You are being sold a bill of goods, radio. Wake up.

Less than 5% thought it was “old fashioned” or “historic.” Even among those that though it was “retro” — 20% also said it was “energetic.” O’Keefe says “retro is not necessarily a bad thing” and points out stores like Target sell a lot of retro-styled clothes to teens.

Again, lousy research.

“Retro” but not “old-fashioned.”

“Retro” may not be bad for a thoroughly modern brand like Target, but much of radio’s problem is that it is not a thoroughly modern brand. “Retro” branding on a brand that says “old” makes that brand older, not cooler.

This is stupid.

Several modern, high-tech looking logos were also tested but they didn’t connect with consumers. Younger demos thought those logos looked like Internet or satellite radio. O’Keefe says “The last thing we want to do is advertising that points people to a different product.”

That’s right. Let’s make sure to enter into a branding effort that makes radio look exactly as it always has – which is what got us into this spot in the first place.

Let’s not only point to the same product, but to the same stale perceptions that product is burdened with.

God forbid we should look as “new-fangled” as satellite radio or “the Internets.”

However, photos used in consumer ads featuring clunky headphones and cassette decks are likely to go. O’Keefe says “We’ll probably change some of those images.” Even so, they did test well in focus groups — even among young demos. He says “When we pushed it too edgy, we lost the young audiences. They said that’s not what radio is.”

Let’s re-brand radio with big cans and cassette decks. Brilliant. “Because that’s what radio is.”

Isn’t the problem that young demos mis-perceive what radio is?

Or is the problem that young demos perceive exactly what radio is, and no stupid rebranding nonsense is likely to change that?

He points out there will be many changes as they move forward over the next several years of this campaign, explaining “We need to take it one rung of the ladder at a time. You can’t just jump to the top or you lose consumers.”

No, you have to crawl slowly to the top – or the top of the bottom – one monthly retainer at a time.


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