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?
Strategy Director and Partner