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When and How to Rebrand

21 Sep 2018

Mark Byrne

Sometimes when it comes to branding, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” isn’t the best approach. That’s particularly true in this era of constant change, both in consumer audience demands and ever evolving technology.

This was brought sharply into focus for me when I attended a Marketing Institute breakfast on Wednesday 19th September where Keith McCormack, CEO of Today FM and Music & Entertainment at Communicorp Media. Keith was there to give an insight into how and why Today FM, an already popular brand had undergone a hugely successful rebranding.

When they started well over 2 decades ago, Today FM was considered a “challenger” brand, a “disruptive” presence in the radio market place and they were almost an instant hit with a live audience. However as Keith pointed out, radio stations must consider themselves a “live audio content” company rather than simply just a radio channel and in an evolving eco system, they must consistently look for new audiences as well as maintain and engage their existing audience. I personally think that this applies to all companies (albeit taking the audio aspect out of it) so I found his presentation to be incredibly interesting as well as very self-aware of their brand in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.

In the initial process of rebranding, the team at Today FM took a step back and re-examined their brand, trying to be as objective as possible. They looked for audience insights, asking their audience to be as honest (sometimes brutally so) with the aim of discovering what their cultural connection with their audiences was, as well as finding out the perception of the brand, decades on from their establishment. Keith explained that because of the success of the brand, they didn’t want to rip it up and start from scratch, they simply wanted to evolve it. It’s definitely a process that all marketing teams should undergo, to step back and look at their own brand in an objective manner. Keith gave a great outline of their process and how they still kept their brand values while taking their strengths and evolving with those. They had to look at their communications strategy, their content, audience experience / journey and the multiple platforms they had access to in order to reach their audience. They wanted to use every channel they had, driving audience engagement across a number of platforms. Today FM launched their rebrand in January 2017 and to date, it has been hugely successful. Their audience figures have gone up thanks to their ability to amplify their content across a number of platforms. They also reached the number 1 entertainment platform on Facebook, an incredible achievement in the entertainment world, let alone in a radio landscape.

Keith and his team should be extraordinarily proud of their much deserved success and their award winning rebrand. They’re not just sitting back on their laurels however. Keith gave us a sneak peek at the new product Communicorp are developing  that will consolidate audio content creators in a single programme but that’s another story entirely. Today FM’s rebranding story should definitely be a case study of how to rebrand in marketing courses around the country. Thanks to the Marketing Institute for organising a great event to kick off the autumn breakfast series and if this was just a taste of what is to come, I’m looking forward to the next one!

Mark Byrne is Commercial Director with the Brightwater Group and is directly responsible for the marketing recruitment division as well as sales, business support, HR and IT.