WKNO: Among the Great Brand Names

Oct 26, 2011

I talk a lot about brand names. Because a great brand name makes everything easier. 

We have great brand names in Memphis.  FedEx, although the company originally didn’t want people saying FedEx, is a great brand. Federal gave the brand credibility in its earliest days.  Auto Zone, though not the original name, is a strong brand. Better, I think, than the original, Auto Shack.  LifeBlood’s a classic. 

A great brand name you’ve probably never given a thought about is WKNO. Think about it.  Public broadcasting in America has been a fact since the early Twentieth Century.

Today, there are 354 stations in the Public Broadcasting system.  WKNO was not chartered until 1953.  On air in 1956.

How in the world was the station lucky enough to capture the call letters - the brand - WKNO?  Why didn't a much earlier predecessor take it?  It's the best possibile call letter brand of all public stations.  The word "know" with the w transposed.

It happened like this: the station held a public contest.  Mary F. Harmon of Memphis and an anonymous Dyersburg resident both submitted "WKNO."  

How come a large eastern market that had public TV ahead of Memphis didn't grab WKNO?

Good job, Mary!


John Malmo is a marketing consultant who concentrates on helping business owners grow their businesses with effective marketing.  To reach Mr. Malmo, hear and read more of his commentaries, or ask him a direct marketing question of your own, visit AskMalmo.com.