Bell Media takes CHUM FM to the streets with rebrand

Rob Farina says experiential and social will play a big part in the station's new brand identity.
Chum Pride

Bell Media’s flagship Toronto radio station, CHUM 104.5, has a new look, feel and sound.

The brand refresh includes a much bigger variety of music in terms of genre, a shift in the style of announcing and communicating with audiences, more experiential events and a listener-first social strategy. The rebrand also includes a new visual identity, which is brighter, more colourful and has a bouncy, fun approach. The goal, said Rob Farina, head of radio content, strategy and iHeartRadio at Bell Media, is to make the brand less “aspirational” and more personable.

Farina told MiC the refresh will roll out gradually over the summer. “We’re slowly layering on more changes,” he said. The immediate changes will include the greater variety of music and increased social interactions from the station. No formal changes to programming blocks have been announced yet. The refresh was rooted in a desire to better connect to CHUM’s key female 25 to 54 audience, said Farina. “We needed to become a much more connected brand in order to appeal to the diversity that is this city,” he said.

According to the quarterly Numeris PPM reports for this past spring, CHUM held a 6.1% share in the Toronto market, among adults 12+, making it sixth overall. However, it plays slightly stronger with women 25 to 54 (it boasts a 12.9% share, ranking third overall in the demo). According to those PPM reports, CHUM has shown small, yet consistent decreases in share among the 12+ demographic, and has gone up and down with the women 25 to 54 group over the last year.

The station’s refreshed visual identity was conceived in collaboration with Toronto creative shop Leo Burnett, and debuted to the public on June 24 at Toronto’s annual Pride Parade. CHUM 104.5. Farina said the station is going to embark on its plans to promote the station’s new identity through a media buy on Bell Media assets commencing in early July. He said experiential efforts will also play a big part, even if it just means recording and broadcasting on-location more often.

“Even things like our morning show, we never put it out in the community a lot. That served us well for a long time, but it’s time to take the brand off a pedestal and put it more in-reach.”

Social strategy will also play a big part in keeping CHUM within arms’ length of its listeners. Farina said there will be more social-exclusive and social-first content as the rebrand rolls out, in order to capture listeners on the platforms they spend the most time on. “We’re taking a much more interactive approach to the programming,” he said, adding that as part of a new initiative, every person who contacts the station through whatever means (including digital and social) will get a response from a human being.

There’s also a plan to increase the media spend and promotion behind CHUM’s contests, which Farina said have played a major part in the station’s success over the years.