Radio station swag - what works? | radioinfo

Radio station swag - what works?

Monday 09 April, 2018

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

Last week I got a nice thing through the post. It’s a very small piece of plastic with a tiny logo on it. The cardboard it’s attached to says that it’s a webcam cover, and it appeared as if by magic the week after the big Facebook furore about privacy.

(As an aside: Mark Zuckerberg might have a strange attitude towards privacy, but even HE covers his webcam. So should you. And so should I, for that matter.)

Anyway, the logo on this webcam cover was that of NPR, the US public radio network. And that got me thinking about radio station swag.

In most cases, radio stations live and die by the ratings. Ratings are, of course, mainly calculated in two ways - a) electronic measurement, where a little electronic device with a microphone works out what radio station you’re listening to; or b) diary or telephone measurement, where you have to remember what you’ve been listening to and tell someone.

Recall-based measurement, like diaries or telephone surveys, only measure what someone remembers listening to, not what someone actually listened to. This is a small but important distinction, because it means that in a recall-based market, your job is to grow your brand awareness. The better local brand awareness you have, the higher your apparent audience figures will be. Irrespective of the quality of the programming, which is a bit annoying, but there we go.

One way to achieve good brand awareness is to have a version of your logo that communicates what you do. Calling yourself “Eddie” might sound cute on-air, but “Eddie Radio” might work better in your logo, and a strapline underneath (“Songs that make you feel great, all day”) at least communicates something about you. Slapping this version of your logo on swag makes sense, since it’ll reinforce what you’re there for. Oh, and, you know - how to tune in is probably a good idea.

But the secret then is to work out what you can usefully get that logo on, so that they see the logo multiple times a day. There’s lots of research showing that you need to communicate a brand four or five times during someone’s “buying cycle” in order for it to sink in. Easier for a mattress - we buy one every seven years - than for a radio station - we tune in every day.

So, a t-shirt doesn’t work: you only see the logo when you put it on, and you don’t put it on every day. A branded cap is just as bad. Skimpy knickers with your radio station brand? I’ve actually worked at a radio station which had a cute radio station mascot printed onto some underwear. I doubt they worked very well.

Items I’ve been impressed with have included:

a)    Shirt sponsorship of the local sports team (you can contra it!) is a winning plan: it highlights your localness and means you appear in the local paper every week for nothing too.

b)    A reusable coffee cup with the station logo on. Good for the environment, and also good at getting your logo seen multiple times a day, particularly at breakfast.

c)    Yes, this webcam cover. Something that’ll be in your eyeline for hours every day.

d)    Car air fresheners. I know, a little tacky - but where’s best to remind people you exist - at least twice a day, in a place with a radio?

e)    Pens also work, though I have SO many pens I don’t really know what to do with them. Make them decent, though, nobody likes cheap pens.

It’s also why doing some partnership with local road safety organisations can work well. If I pass your logo every day on my commute on a sign, that’s a good thing; and if you’re associated with that kind of message, that’s also good. (Can you sponsor the crossing outside local schools?)

In my bag right now, by the way - a USB charger branded with one radio station brand, and a pen branded with another. If only I lived in their transmission area…!

About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at

Contact James at [email protected] or @jamescridland


Post a Comment


Log InYou must be logged in to post comments.
radioinfo ABN: 87 004 005 109  P O Box 6430 North Ryde NSW 2113 Australia.  |  All content © 1996-2021. All Rights Reserved.