I’ve heard that when trying out a new pen for the first time 97% of people will write their own name.

In life we search for things that are familiar. At the ballpark we see people wearing our team’s colors. At a new restaurant we first look for the “Favorites”. A political candidate stirs our emotions by tapping into things we already believe.

They say the origin of the word Familiar comes from the phrase ‘of family’.

“…we learn how to love, and who to love, from our family… In fact, our unconscious acts like a GPS unit to seek a ‘familiar’ love that we’ve had in our family.”  Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.

How ironic then for the “family” format to be so unfamiliar!

One of the most important things a program director can do is build familiarity into the brand.

The two most important ways, of course, are:

  • Play music your listeners know and love
  • Talk about things that are relevant and interesting to your listeners.

While few program directors would debate these concepts, even fewer do anything about it.

Consider gathering your team and brainstorm ways to make your station more familiar to someone just tuning in.

Maybe you’ll…

…take familiar TV theme songs and use them for traffic beds (particularly if the TV show was about families)

…mention a local faith/family/community event when you give a local temperature in the weather forecast. It will help show the heart of your radio station while linking it to something you’re going to do anyway.

…let listeners help introduce features, turning the bland and ordinary into viral marketing. (See programming tip # 35—Names, Names, Names).

The website Familiar.com is described as “Your loved ones, your photos, experienced together.” I wonder what the impact would be if we designed our radio stations that way.