Until just a few years ago, in Canada, a commercial broadcaster was not even required to say the legal calls, perhaps because the privately owned commercial broadcast stations use primarily CF and CH through CK.
So, you don't see anywhere near as many radio stations using just their four letters in their branding.
Arbitron's diary asks first for call letters and only after that for dial setting and, third, "station name." So, as long as diaries are the rating measurement tool, it pays to ingrain your listeners to write that down to be sure you don't lose any listening credit.
With PPM measurement, they don't even need to know your brand name. They just have to actually use you.
It's axiomatic that every product needs a unique "position" that clearly exists in the mind of the consumer and they also must have an identity to link it with so they can remember where it's located and tell their friends about it.
There was a time when every new country station wanted to be Frogs. Then, came Cats. Now, the current flavor of the month appears to be "Bull."
Just how important is it to have "the proper, freshest, brand" (whatever that is) and "the correct position statement for today" (many stations change theirs annually, which leaves listeners confused and often remembering only the original one even from very long ago)?
I learned some lessons about this from three places where I worked.
In the 1970's I was OM of Buck Owens' KUZZ/Bakersfield. which listeners often called "cuz" no matter how much we only used the letters K-U-Z-Z on air.
Then, I went to "Radio KEEN" in San Jose where again I wanted to avoid what seems like a dated 50's word and so we never said "keen," and always used the four letters. The vast majority of listeners never parroted our letters back to us, preferring to call the station "Radio KEEN," which drove me nuts.
Finally, in the early 1980's I found myself at what listeners termed "Compass," in spite of the fact that the station had only used K-M-P-S for many years before my arrival as PD. I'd bet that the current team at the station still hear that dated brand from the folks using it now.
What I learned:
Your brand and position are not words that you can "educate" listeners to adopt. Those things are just the ribbon on top of the package and yet if you happen to be marketing or creating a product that a already possesses a positive name and message, deeply ingrained, don't fight them. Creating a powerful identity takes a long time and can be extremely expensive. Undoing an existing strong one can be next to impossible.
- There is a reason that the word "content" lives inside the word "contents."
- What listeners love that you do is your brand. How and when they use you is your position, not a lovely logo typeface or costumed mascot.