What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever.” – Seth Godin
As they often do, Fast Company provided a moment of insight and inspiration for me. It’s a story about naming a brand based on the color they use – especially the legion that use the color blue.
According to them, “If you are able to distinguish Facebook-sapphire from IBM-azure, then you are either incredibly observant or around these particular shades so often that they’ve seeped into subconscious associations.”
I wonder if that’s true with radio? We all want to think we are differentiated enough to have our own color of blue, but is it true? If we showed generic logos in our color and typeface, would they know us? Better yet, if we ran three air checks with the station name edited out, back-to-back with four from other stations, would we be differentiated enough to be recognized?
Here’s what I would say is the probable answer, “Your fans would, but it would be a struggle for everyone else. Your fans, your tribe, are the ones with the emotional connection, while everyone else is using you more as a utility. We’re not as different as we think to the more casual listener.
But differentiation actually isn’t the topic of this posting. It’s the common rallying cry that radio is a cume business, and success is proportional to the size of your cume. That may be true if your mass appeal, as the large cume is the boat in which your fans float in, but not so much if you’re not country, CHR, AC or talk. But sometime those stations are so mass appeal they get their success from being everyone’s number two station more than from a tribe.
Isn’t the key here to make sure the tribe is a larger one, so you have enough people to make a difference, but being distinctive enough so your tribe feel “special?” Otherwise you might be like smooth jazz, where the tribe was passionate enough to “vote” the station to success with a diary, but not large enough to sustain itself commercially in a PPM world.
There’s nothing wrong with having a large cume unless you’re sacrificing tribal distinction to get It. In the end it comes down your fans, who give you the preponderance of your listening. They want to feel special and they want to feel included.