Kiss and compare. How Sydney’s new KIIS brand stacks up.

It is now official. One of the worst kept secrets in the radio industry is confirmed. Mix FM in Sydney will become Kiis 1065 from January 20, 2014.

As name for a radio station it’s definitely not original – some of the biggest cities around enjoy a Kiss. But what will the name and brand association bring for Sydney and how does the new brand stack up with the best?

With Kyle and Jackie O secured for 106.5FM Sydney in 2014, a brand change is clearly needed. The safe and family friendly ‘Mix’ was just not going to fit with the K&J show’s more controversial and risque reputation. The whole station had to change to accomodate K&J.

New radio brands often borrow from succesful formats and brands from overseas. ARN have opted to do just, by adopting Kiis, one of their sister station brands (through their joint owner Clear Channel in the USA).

Some disclosure now:  As one of the founders of Melbourne’s dance station, Kiss 90 FM, I adopted a similar naming strategy in 1993. Kiss 90 was inspired from Kiss 100 in London. With support from the London station, we used a similar brandmark and also gained endorsements and guest mixes from some of their big name DJs. This was a highly successful strategy that helped us achieve instant credibility from a highly connected global dance music community who knew of Kiss in London and therefore what to expect from Kiss in Melbourne.

I’m not sure the same strategy will be successful for ARN’s Sydney station.

The new Sydney station’s name is based on 102.7 Kiis FM in Los Angeles, The home of Ryan Seacrest (also currently broadcast on Mix in Australia). Kiis 102.7 runs a hit music format and is one of LA’s top-rating stations. The reason it is spelt ‘Kiis’ and not ‘Kiss’ is due to the stations original call sign (most stations of the west coast of the USA have a ‘K’ and then three letters for their official call sign).

 

 

The use of ‘Kiis’ as a name, aligns Sydney closely to their LA sister station. But this is also very clumsy and meaningless for most people in Sydney. It is unlikely Kiis 1065 will run a top 40 format (like LA) as this doesn’t fit with ARN’s female 25-54 target. Also, unlike Kiss in Melbourne, I would be very surprised if many of the target audience in Sydney are aware of the LA station or have any positive association to the ‘Kiis’ brand. More likely, ARN was forced into using ‘Kiis’ because of Kiss FM Melbourne – who now broadcast on low power frequencies in Melbourne and Regional Victoria, as well as on satellite and online.

ARN have also created a new brandmark for Kiis Sydney. It doesn’t share the same identity with Kiis LA (or any of Clear Channel’s other Kiss FMs). This could allow it to stand on its own, but then the naming feels pointless. They could of just created a new name and one that would resonate with Sydneysiders.

So, how does Sydney’s new Kiis stand up and apart from every other Kiss? Here is a selection of some of the Kiss radio brandmarks. You be the judge.

 

 

As a brand name, Kiss is used for a variety of radio formats but is primarily associated with pop or contemporary hits in the USA and dance/electronic music in Melbourne, the UK and Europe. However, there are also some uses of the name for adult contemporary and country formats. With very different audiences and identities, the name ‘Kiss’ alone doesn’t necessarily carry any brand surety.

Those who know any of these brands may have very different expectations of what Kiis 1065 might be like. This may be positive or negative, depending on your understanding of these brands.

Looking at the new brandmark for Kiss 1065, it already feels dated before they start. If they were hoping to appeal to a younger audience, this is not in the same league as Nova. But as a adult contemporary format aimed at females, it might just cut it. But then again, isn’t that what the Mix brand does now?

It’s also interesting that the Kiis brand will only replace Mix in Sydney. The Mix brand will remain (for now) in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane (as 97.3FM). ARN is claiming that this is a new station built just for Sydney. However, they are still planning to network programming across their Mix and Kiis stations. Confused? Well most advertisers seem to be as well. The multi-brand and potentially very different music formats doesn’t seem like a strong strategy to pitch to national clients to grow their revenue share.

What do you think about the change from Mix to Kiis 1065? Will it help ARN retain K&J’s 2Day FM audience and build a bigger share in Sydney?

Michael Hughes
Strategy Director and Partner

 

8 Comments

    • Bill, thanks for your opinion.
      I’m not sure I agree regarding the Kiss Sydney brandmark but I do agree that the brand should not be judged by the brandmark alone.
      At this stage, there is not much else to go on (apart from the fact they will have Kyle and Jackie O) and we thought it was interesting to consider the use of the Kiss/Kiis name and potential associations (good or bad) that this may convey to the market as this is part of ARN’s strategy to link the Sydney station to their LA station and its reputation.
      Cheers, Michael.

  1. Interesting to hear the strong American accents used in the KIIS promotional material. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Seacrest does a voice-tracked daytime shift (ala Virgin) where back announcing and station IDs are used (rather than just the generic stop-downs currently used on Mix).

    I also think the format will be CHR. I say this for two reasons. Firstly ARN want KIIS to be the new 2DayFM – as evidenced by the signing of Kyle and Jackie O. Secondly, if they were to continue with a HOT AC format, they’d probably roll this out nationally. The fact they haven’t (yet) suggests it’s more than just a rebranding – I think they want to see how the new format goes in Sydney first.

    They’re cloning to kill.

    • Best Ham,

      Love the cloning to kill comment!

      It certainly looks more likely to be CHR than Hot AC for Kiis in Sydney but this could be splitting hairs these days. The sizzle reel certainly paints it more as CHR picture. Although they haven’t moved 1065FM musically yet.

      The strange thing is that Mix in Melbourne has been much closer to CHR than Sydney for some time now. They could be simply moving to align Sydney closer to what they are playing in Melbourne which is technically Hot AC. But why change the name (apart from satisfying Kyle’s ego). I guess we’ll know more on Monday.

      It will be interesting to see what ARN have planned for the other Mix stations. I also don’t believe this is just about Sydney. It doesn’t make sense. They have a network of stations and although Brisbane and Adelaide are much more AC, at the very least I would’ve thought they’d want to cross-sell Sydney and Melbourne.

      Cheers, Michael.

  2. If I wanted to listen to 2Day FM I would have changed stations. Why did MIX have to go? Now there isn’t any station that has a good range of music from 80’s to current day. I don’t want to listen to rap and dance. Please fix it!

  3. Why Americanise our Australian radio Mix 1065 was one of the best stations back in 2006-2009. Now I think kiis have jumped
    The shark with unemployment levels in Australia being not good why employ million dollar man from America Ryan seacrest in australia? All those australian talent are now out of work. They are just changing the format to shock and Wow the audience he didn’t say that? The s-bomb , f bomb thats typical of an American station gong for shock rather than just playing good music from the 80s 90s and today. I guess in competitive radio environment those that want be first on radio survey. I blame the radio survey it’s become so critical these days ithat radio talent could be fired and replaced by Ryan seacrest or replays of K&jo show, to win ratings and for what? I want the old mix format back, in brisbane 973 seems to have signs it’s going the way of kiis and I don’t like it. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and not to have a station that plays this sort of music is a crime.

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