Extending Reach & Relevance by Re-Launching Public Radio's Premier Brand
As a non-profit federation of member stations, National Public Radio’s primary challenge was to expand revenue sources. Key to this goal was the ability to attract a broader audience, by reaching younger listeners and penetrating new geographic markets.
By clearly defining a brand proposition and increasing awareness, the organization hoped to generate new funding through licensing. Examining then current practices, both the “NPR” and “National Public Radio” brands were used inconsistently. NPR received little credit for its superior programming; in fact, many program brands had stronger awareness than the mother brand.
A detailed analysis determined that the objective, comprehensive, and thought-provoking programming made the brand distinctive. This understanding formed the foundation of the positioning recommendation and was based on the non-biased, in-depth nature of the reporting and high production value.
A name change to “NPR” created greater appeal and was easier to pronounce across geographies. With this new name, a deliberate brand strategy linked the NPR brand to all internal program content, building equity in the parent brand. A new brand expression also allowed the brand to stretch beyond radio, particularly for licensed goods.
This brand expression was applied across a range of corporate identity applications, communications, and interactive properties. More importantly, new licensing deals that appropriately extended the brand to books, educational products, and music, provided added revenue. Apt for a brand that is principally audio-focused, the first-ever NPR on-air identity was also created.
While listenership for the radio market as a whole experienced negative growth, NPR’s audience grew by almost 5% in 1999.