My work rebranding Smoke Radio

In August 2017, I was very proud to launch the new Smoke Radio branding and marketing strategy. I wanted to make the brand feel young again, and to really scream the things which make the University of Westminster such a special place.

The multi-campus, metropolitan university is such a vibrant place to be, and is one of Europe’s most international universities. It’s incredibly diverse and has a very exciting energy about it. Not only did I want to communicate the atmosphere of the university through the new branding, but I wanted to make the students the centre of it all, to make it clear that the station really is for them.

Brand Messaging

The key messages I wanted to communicate were:

– We’re inclusive and multicultural

– We care about student life in London

– We’re a young and fun brand

I felt the message of inclusivity was particularly poignant in light of recent world events, and I implemented this through a series of on-air slogans (below). We also used the slogan We Are Westminster, We Are Smoke Radio, typically accompanying vox-pops featuring students describing what they love about our university. This was designed to create a sense of community across our multiple campuses.

The main off-air slogan, Westminster’s Student Sound, was chosen because it clearly communicates how student-focussed we are as a brand, plus it looks great written down!

The logo

I started with an update to our logo. I wanted to make sure it was simple but distinctive; adaptable for any situation, and at the same time respecting what had been before. I made some alterations to things like the typeface and brand colour to give it a younger feel, and I then placed the wordmark inside a polygon shape, which was intended to resemble the shape of a retro radio.

A splash of colour

Our new colour palette gives the brand a younger and more playful feel. The red is a brighter version of Smoke Media’s original brand colour, the yellow represents our Dragons sport teams, and the pink, purple and blue-green represent the colours of the university’s multiple campuses. The use of university colours in our own brand is intended to reduce the chance of future campaigns deviating from Smoke Radio’s own palette.

Station Imaging

I launched a new suite of imaging which included a reoccurring musical station theme (incorporated into our generic, news and sport imaging) to give the station a cohesive sound. The package featured many vox-pops from students woven in, as well as a range of power intros which were intended to give the station a young feel.

I wanted the voice of Smoke Radio to encapsulate our brand messages. Ashante Thomas-Burton, a third-year student at Westminster, had featured on past Smoke Radio imaging, but this time I made her the sole voice of the station. Her London accent gives the station a strong sense of place, and her voice is rich and distinctive which was perfect for the brand image I was trying to create.

Listen to the imaging demo reel:

Social Media

Building a strong social media following was one of the key things I tried to achieve this year in our marketing plan. I wanted to make sure we were posting things Westminster students really cared about. It was important that all our online content made it clear what makes us special as a station, but also that it was widely appealing to a London student audience. Giving our online content a young tone of voice was also key, and I took inspiration from young internet brands such as Buzzfeed, UNILAD and Student Problems.

I created a number of Westminster-specific memes (below) which were published on a regular basis, and often shared content from relevant sources such as university tabloid-style website The Tab. Our web team also did a great job at writing our own student-focussed articles for our site, which I shared on social media. These included “5 Types Of Societies You Should Join At Uni” and “The Dos And Don’ts When It Comes To Uni Room Décor.”

I also regularly shared TfL updates, information about local gigs, coverage of university events and general entertainment news aimed at an 18-29 age range. I understand the power of video content, and posted many promotional and show-specific videos to our channels.

Marketing campaigns and events

All our on-air events featured their own imaging packages along with graphic marketing material in static and animated form. These included our coverage of Move-In Weekend, the Regent Street Christmas Light Switch-On, National Student Pride, and our 24-Hour Library Takeover to name a few.

During the leadup to fundraising events such as Smoke Unplugged and the White T-Shirt Party, I ran marketing campaigns both online and around the university campuses – which led to some great turn-outs!

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