Power intros, produced intros, branded intros – whatever you call them, the production used to brand music with your station is still important, regardless of the size of your station.
In this article, Adam from the fantastic Little Monster Media is going to tell you why these production elements are so important and why you should be using them.
The most obvious plus point is identity. Branded intros stamp your station identity and character on a track, attempting to subliminally tie your brand to that particular track in the listeners mind. It ties in with another great reason to use them, which is….
Creating that link between your brand and a track in the listeners mind gives you ownership and association. By doing this with key tracks on your playlist, you’re signposting to the listener that THIS is the sort of music you play and what you’re all about. Likewise with new music releases and playlist additions, branded intros give you a chance to highlight them to the listener and spark their interest, retaining their attention and, hopefully, avoiding them switching over because it’s a song they don’t know. And if that song goes on to become a favourite of theirs, guess what! They know they discovered it on your brand.
A great example of stamping an identity and creating ownership are the new BBC Radio 1/1Xtra branded intros, using sung elements of the “one” and “radio” mixed seamlessly into the fabric of the music. And who better to explain the use of these branded intros than Matt Fisher, Lead Producer for BBC Pop Hub Station Sound:
“I’m probably the planets biggest fan of Powers [intros]. Having brought them back onto Radio 1 a few years ago we are now in the process of rolling them out at 1Xtra. I see them as an evolutionary tool. By creating fresh [branded] intros every single week, we can stay at the forefront of audio production, and remain in perfect harmony with an ever changing musical landscape. One of the key reasons we use them so heavily across Radio 1 is so we can seamlessly integrate ‘The Sonic One’ – In short, wherever you hear the word “One”, we apply a specific (and secret) audio treatment. Its our contemporary interpretation of a good old fashioned audio logo. But it’s worth noting that our recipe for a successful [branded] intro goes way beyond ‘The Sonic One’, track sampling and audio manipulation. Our team actively seek out and work alongside the best emerging UK talent such as Erin Bloomer to record bespoke sung elements. Powers [branded intros] have therefore become the ideal vehicle for us to deploy a consistent sonic identity, not to mention they are simply brilliant for increasing music flow and for reducing imaging clutter.” – Matt Fisher | Lead Producer, BBC Pop Hub Station Sound – Feb 2021
A perfectly segued branded intro creates a sense of natural flow without the music stopping. It creates energy, instills an atmosphere, and creates a feeling of excitement for the song to come – especially if it’s a new music intro and the track is relatively unknown. The brilliant team at On The Sly Audio Production have taken this one step further with their ‘OUTROS’ service, which is similar but, you guessed it, works with the outro of a song.
Station straplines, key messages you’re currently running on air, whatever… branded intros create an opportunity to implement these messages in a cool way. Rather than stopping the music to relay key messages or positioner strapline in sweepers, good intros can integrate them and aid the flow and imprinting of identity in the listeners mind (see above).
So why the hate?
Recently I’ve spoken to some station programmers that think branded intros have had their day. As I’ve explained above, I disagree – and what is more likely, in my view, is that they’re experiencing poorly done, cheesy branded intros that have moved away from the roots of what makes them good in the first place (see above).
When this happens, they become just another opportunity to splash a load of FX and production tricks on a track without any actual thought to the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve.
Like taking a new car for a spin and realising that you don’t actually know where you’re going or why you’re going there, you just want to drive it for the sake of it. It’s not effective and will cost you money on petrol, and the moment of joy wears off pretty quick.
So there we have it, branded intros. Personally I love them and feel they have an important part to play within audio branding and station imaging. And as always, it’s important to note that all the above is my opinion form my experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m right!
Adam (Little Monster Media)