KUT and KUTX Radio Brand Identity
Page/Dyal Branding & Graphics was engaged to develop new brand identities for KUT and KUTX, as well as create a marketing campaign for KUTX. Austin Public Radio Station KUT has been a respected source of news, information, music and entertainment for more than 50 years. Previously a single frequency, KUT acquired an additional frequency in 2013, which became KUTX 98.9. With this addition, KUT 90.5 became dedicated to news and remained Austin’s NPR Station, while KUTX 98.9 became dedicated to music. When it started, the new station adopted the same logo and identity DNA that was already established for KUT, with color as the differentiators. While the stations are often thought of as siblings that share parents, they each have their unique content, voice and personality. Page/Dyal Branding & Graphics’ charge and goal was to develop new brand identities for each of the stations that accurately portray the missions, attributes and brand voices.
When approaching the project, the design team referenced market research commissioned by KUT/KUTX and looked at the problems through various lenses to find solutions that communicate core brand attributes. They consider the key areas that make up a brand, including the brand experience (how the brands are experienced and how they communicate the brand promise); the value experience (what do the stations add to our lives); the listener experience (how do users and listeners experience and use KUT and KUTX); and the social experience (what value does the community add to KUT and KUTX). A goal in any brand identity project is to capture a brand’s promise and true experience and visually communicate that. By looking at the stations through these frameworks, Page/Dyal Branding & Graphics was able to hone in on authentic attributes that make up KUT and KUTX.
The KUT identity was inspired by the qualities that make KUT vital and essential to the local and larger community. In the team’s early discovery and exploration, it identified various qualities that represented KUT, and two in particular resonated with the design team and the client as being the essential foundations of KUT—depth and perspective. KUT provides in-depth reporting that provides their audience with understanding and perspective.
These attributes became springboard for the visual identity exploration, and Page/Dyal Branding & Graphics looked at layering and shifting viewpoints and angles. The ultimate solution subtly alludes to this idea with layered fields of information.
For KUTX, the design team went through similar framework exercises in the beginning of the project. At its basic and functional level, KUTX catalogs and curates the music that matters, and is a platform for content and experiences. The KUTX voice and attitude, however, takes on a unique and special tone that those who tune in regularly instantly recognize. The team wanted to craft a brand that reflected the voice that so many in Austin (including the project designers) revere and know so well. KUTX rightly so prides itself on being a platform for music that is ‘made here’, ‘played here’, and has stood the test of time.
There is a sort of insider quality and appeal for KUTX listeners. They know the programming, the hosts, the quirks—all of which make the listener experience unique but relatable.
In Page/Dyal Branding & Graphics’ exploration and looking for inspiration, the design team took note of the universal use of Cooper Black, a serif typeface that has an influence and place in so many cultural touchpoints, spanning every decade since the 1920s. Because of its pedigree and relevance, it has a familiarity and insider appeal. The team utilized the typeface for the identity, which in a way pays tribute to the countless artists and musical groups that has played such a role and influence on the station throughout its history.
The result is a visual identity that resonates with the brand promise, and is approachable and authentic.
As part of the effort Page/Dyal Branding & Graphics also conceived of a campaign for KUTX that could be used for a variety of marketing applications. KUTX positions itself as “The Austin Music Experience.” The new campaign creates opportunities for personalization, by inviting participants to define what that means to them. The simple phrase “Austin Music Is…” further validates KUTX’s stake as a proprietor of Austin music.