The Top 40 chart was once a key topic of conversation in playgrounds and workplaces nationwide.
Underpinning the UK’s most popular music show, Top of the Pops, and the focus of one of Radio 1’s flagship shows, the chart were not only the way to find out what was popular in the UK music scene, it generated news. The chart battle between Oasis and Blur for the number one slot in 1995 made the headlines on News at 10.
The advent of Spotify and YouTube has dampened its cultural cache over the past decade but the company that runs the Official Chart, The Official Charts Company, is hoping to reposition its consumer-facing brand to attract the “next generation of chart fans” bored of algorithms.
Lauren Kreisler, director of digital and brand at Official Charts, claims the charts still hold affection for lots people. What’s necessary, she adds, is to “shift perceptions” around its role in 2023.
She says: “When people start to follow Official Charts and engage with us, they really get hooked and they’re really loyal,” she says. “They start to anticipate chart battles. We want to drive awareness and reposition ourselves for the next generation of chart fans.”
They hope to achieve this by revamping its consumer-facing website and social media channels. Introduced a little over a decade ago to “take control of their own message” and communicate directly with music fans, the website is being changed up with a new brand identity and more content options for younger fans.
Official Charts plans to flesh out its interactive chart archive so visitors can listen to a snippet of any song that has ever charted, discover facts about newly charted artists and follow the week-to-week chart journey of their favourite songs. These new format points, Kreisler hopes, will capture the attention of younger users and have them anticipating the charts much like their parents did.
“Snackable video content formats, like the Top 10 in 60 Seconds, is designed to appeal to more casual, young, top-of-the-funnel users, and encourage them to not only return, but to begin their journey towards becoming habitual chart checkers who follow chart races with anticipation,” she says.
You learn from data every single day and you change up your plans, not just the bigger strategic projects like a brand relaunch, but your day-to-day executions.
Lauren Kreisler, Official Charts
Research has been a key component of the refresh with the Official Charts commissioning an independent research company to look into the music listening habits of its audience. It found strong brand awareness for the Official Charts brand (76%) and that 40% of Brits aged 18-24 recognise the Official Chart Number 1 award, which is presented on BBC Radio 1. What they didn’t expect was that its users saw the brand as a response to algorithms dictating what they should listen to next.
“That was something that we didn’t even put into the quant survey,” says Kreisler. “But this has come through the verbatim responses at the end of the survey where we asked what the official chart means to you. It kept coming up this point about it being a way to stay outside my algorithm bubble, it came up time and time again.”
The insight is at the heart of a new campaign ‘The People’s Algorithm’, which it is hoped will strike a chord with a wider audience who have that same fatigue. And despite being a relatively small marketing team, she believes it’s important to have that flexibility and go where the date takes you.
“We look at data every day – not just the chart data itself – but we look at our audience analytics and how different content performs on different platforms,” she says. “You learn from that every single day and you change up your plans, not just the bigger strategic projects like a brand relaunch, but your day-to-day content and executions. We’re so data rich now and that impacts everything.”
A different tune
The new visual identity is very much digital-first, says Kreisler, cobalt blue and pink were chosen as the new brand colours for how they pop on a mobile device, and there’s a greater emphasis on video and short-form content as well as a revamp of its logo to be more in-line with the Number 1 award it hands out.
Not that it has forgotten about its roots entirely.
“The warm off-white base of the new brand palette is designed to hint at both the heritage of the charts and a nod to the resilience of physical music in the digital era,” she says, referencing the vinyl boom that has taken hold in the past few years.
‘Refresh rather than rebrand’: Why Pets at Home is simplifying its brand portfolioKreisler goes on to say how nostalgia can work both ways – even if you weren’t alive to see it the first time. “As well as music and fashion of the Noughties trending, Gen Z discovering the likes of Kate Bush via Stranger Things last year and sending Running Up That Hill to Number 1 is another prime example,” she says.
“It created a whole new generation of fans for Kate and set a new Official Chart record for the longest time taken for a single to reach Number 1. We adore those chart moments as they unite both young and older ends of our audience.”