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(DIGITAL) The Visual Side of Radio Pt. 1


How much time do you spend on your stations visual branding, your visual imaging? Do you score in the several hours per year range or is it higher? Radio is an audio medium so visuals will always be a secondary concern, but Grant Wittstruck Director of Digital Strategy for Panama City Radio Group and Powell Broadcasting says, Dont underestimate the visual. Powerful logos, ads, and other visuals can make your connection with listeners even stronger.

His statement makes sense. Given the appd out, multimedia, digital environment our stations compete in, the need to stand out amidst the daily deluge of brands, logos, ads, and other visual interference is important.
In this first part, of a two-part piece about the importance of visual imaging, well hear from Grant who specializes in crafting the graphic identities for stations at his company.

Magnuson: Grant, why is the station logo important?
You cannot have a successful brand without a powerful logo. A logo can be as simple as Hummer which is just text, or as complex as the Starbucks logo, which no longer even says Starbucks. But whatever choice you make, you want to make sure the essence of your station is conveyed through the logo. Your logo tells a listener who you areif youre cutting-edge Top 40, old school, Country, news/talk, and so on. And in the digital age, where listeners are seeing your brand on websites, apps, social media, stream players, podcasts, and more, your visual imaging is more important than ever.

Magnuson: How do you decide what a station logo will look like? Is it a gut feeling? Or is there some logic behind your choices of logos?
For me its always a gut feeling. As they say, I will know it when I see it, I just haven't seen it yet. I hear this a lot and in radio if youre not hearing it, youre not making progress. This is radio and your logo needs to drive a feeling and emotion to enhance the connection with the listener so theyll listen more. It is also important to test different versions on your key demo.

Magnuson: So focus grouping is important?
Every time. We may think we know what listeners in our target demo want, but its best to get their opinion. And your focus groups do not have to be from your listening area. Have a station in one of your other markets throw it in with their focus groups. Also shoot it out to some colleagues and get feedback from other industry pros.

Magnuson: Who at the station typically picks the logo? Is it collaborative or is it all the PD, or do they throw it at you and say "Do your best." What works best for you?
At our company we get a group together. Typically the general manager, promotions director, the PD, a consultant, and the graphic designer. Once we have an idea of the station strategy, name, format, and target demo they throw it to me. I come up with four to six different looks. We then start to narrow down to one to three, and start talking about colors. Our process can take some time. Most recently a logo took 42-plus back-and-forth emails. But I believe its this collaborative atmosphere that allows us to nail down a really strong new station look.

Magnuson: As the creative person, what is your ideal way to come up with the logo?
I find that looking at other logos is a good place to start for inspiration. Then blend elements you like with the strategic needs of the new station brand.

Magnuson: Do you ever have a situation where you and the PD cant agree or you get stuck on a logo where you just cant find the sweet spot? If so how do you overcome that?
Sure, but I always go into redesign knowing the group, particularly the PD, knows best. I always put my two cents in, but in the end, side with the group.

Magnuson: How often should a station update their logo?
Well, this is tricky. If you have a very historic station or a station that is number one, I would say dont mess with it -- or dont mess with it too much. But if you have a station that is struggling, then definitely consider changing your logo up.

Magnuson: What are your thoughts on the station temporarily changing the logo for promotions, holidays, sponsors, or other events?
I love this idea and it works great on the Web. I feel it gives the listeners an idea that we care about whatever the cause is or shows we embrace the time of the year, or that we can be playful.

Magnuson: What are the three most important things a station should keep in mind when they set out to design a new logo or brand image?
1. Make it cutting-edge and cool
2. Make sure it looks like nothing in your market
3. Test the logo options in a focus group of the stations core target demo

Grant Wittstruck is Director of Digital Strategy for Panama City Radio Group and Powell Broadcasting along with iCast Interactive, Powell Broadcastings creative agency. Hit him up for advice/help with your stations new logo/branding project at

Carl Magnuson is an online contributor to Radio Ink, runs R&DIO blog, and is the Co-Founder/Director of Sales at Social Radio, an interactive, personalized content player for radio station websites. He can be reached at

(9/24/2012 6:01:31 AM)
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