Inside Nova’s new look with marketing boss Tony Thomas

“Everything will reflect the new brand position and strategy”

Cathy O'connor, Paul Jackson, Tony Thomas

Nova Entertainment last week launched its biggest ever Nova brand refresh since the brand was launched over 15 years ago. Sydney’s Nova 969 was the first of the stations to start broadcasting on April 1, 2001, using branding that hasn’t changed too much in all those years.

MORE: Nova launches refreshed brand

Explaining the changes to Mediaweek, Nova Entertainment chief marketing and digital officer Tony Thomas revealed: “We spent two months researching the brand in the middle of 2016. We wanted to start on development and execution in the third quarter of 2016. We had our eyes focused on the start of February to begin the year with a totally reinvigorated Nova brand.

“The research gave us direction for the future and the important thing to note is that this is an opportunity for us to refresh the brand from a position of strength rather than crisis.”

Although the original Nova branding was so successful they haven’t had to change much along the way, Thomas reminded us: “We did a communications refresh of the brand in 2011 with a slightly different look and feel for the logo design.

Nova’s new logo

“These changes extend across all elements of the Nova brand including programming, all our signage, merchandise, street teams – all our digital products and social will be relaunched with a new user experience and content strategy.

“Everything will reflect the new brand position and strategy.”

The Nova brand has been very consistent since launch so don’t expect anything too dramatic. No one is going to say, “Nova really went out on a limb here.”

Thomas said the research reinforced they were continuing on the right path with their brand strategy. “This is about tweaking the brand and ensuring we reflect the brand for the audience.”

Of the change to the logo, which sees it move from uppercase to lowercase, Thomas said: “We have come up with a logo design that reflects the strategy as well as refreshing the brand and it gives it a modernity we were looking for.”

Nova was prepared to consider rebrand options from what Thomas called “uncomfortable to minor”. The company then searched through the options to see what best met the brief.

When asked to describe what people might notice first about the changes, Thomas said: “Probably that we have freshened and softened the brand are the two main things. Our music platform will continue to be delivered with a huge amount of passion. We will continue to own the local cities which is something that Nova is well known for when it comes to entertainment.”


None of the changes this week have anything to do with the other Nova Entertainment brand smoothfm. “The smooth brand is still relatively young,” said Thomas. “It has been very consistent and we are very happy with all the feedback. What we are doing there is continuing to build awareness as we know the product delivers.”

ARN’s Duncan Campbell told Mediaweek at the end of 2016 he thought smoothfm had peaked, at least in Sydney, and it would find it hard to reach #1 FM again.

“People predicted from the very launch that smoothfm would fail,” responded Thomas. “I’m not surprised that when the brand got to the position we always thought it would get to there continue to be naysayers claiming it doesn’t deserve to be there. The proof is in the product performance. It was a consistent #1 for much of the year and the product has improved consistently since launch. Some people think it might have overreached, but we don’t believe so.”

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