Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask yourself when creating an internet radio station is "who are you?" Or rather, "who" do you want your station to be?
Think of your favorite internet or local FM radio station- they have a clear identity. You have a general idea of what to expect when you tune in, you’re familiar with the on-air personalities (even if you have no clue what they look like!), and you might even be able to pick their logo out of a lineup. These are the effects of powerful branding.
So…who are you?
To create your identity as a radio station, you need to answer a few questions.
Why are you creating this station?
It could be that you have a vast collection of music from the sixties that you want to share with others because you can’t quite find the perfect station that plays all of your favorites. Maybe your hobby is finding all of the latest and greatest indie songs and you’d like to help introduce them to the world. Or, you could be incredibly knowledgeable about something or have a particular sense of humor that you think others would potentially resonate with. Bottom line, there’s a reason you’re thinking about starting a station. What is it?
What do you want to share?
You can argue that this is essentially the same question as above, but this goes beyond the creation of your station. Yes, you want to share the best rock ‘n’ roll on the planet with your audience, but what else? Is it going to be all rock, all the time? Are there causes you’re passionate about? Are you going to be funny or serious? Will you share news? If so, will it be national news, only feel-good stories, or just local news? Ultimately, you may want your station to share more than just one genre of music, and that information is crucial to your station's identity.
Who is your audience?
This one covers a few bases, and it’s easiest if you come up with a “marketing persona.” A marketing persona is a "fictional” representation of an actual listener. Your persona may be defined by a number of things, including basic demographics (age, location, occupation, etc.) as well as interests.
In order to deliver the most relevant and useful audio content to your audience, you need to know who they are. What music do they prefer? Are they interested in music discovery or hearing music they know? Do they care about the news? Do they have other shared interests? Where do they live? Are they a global, national, or local audience?
What sets you apart from the others?
There are tons of online radio stations out there. What do you offer that others don’t? It could be the latest local news, the next big hits from up-and-coming artists, DJs with personalities that shine through the digital airwaves, or even something like fun contests with awesome prizes. Think about what unique value you bring to listeners- that’s what sets you apart and makes you stand out.
Branding Your Station
Once you know "who" you want your station to be, you can begin branding your station. This includes creating your station name, logo, cover art, description, radio imaging, and more. In order to make this process easy, especially as you continue growing your brand, you might consider creating a brand style guide to ensure your branding is consistent across all instances (e.g. your station profile page, social media, website, etc.). It's also important to remember that your branding and programming need to be in sync. In other words, if you decide that your station is going to be branded as a "rock only" station, then your programming needs to reflect that.
Implementing Your Branding
Now that you've decided on your branding, you can move on to implementing your branding. This means completely filling out your station profile page, creating/updating your website, and utilizing social media, all according to your brand style guide.
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