The rapid development of communication media that reproduce audio means that today sound can accompany the image at all points of contact between consumers and the brand.
Communication specialists Lawrence Minsky and Colleen Feikhi never tire of reminding us in their book that sound expresses the meaning that people perceive on an intuitive, subconscious level.
Creating a unique sound image of your brand is a unique opportunity to strengthen the brand message and significantly improve the quality of your customers’ consumer experience.
The authors reveal the basic principles and rules for creating an audio brand, using the rich professional experience of Colleen Feikhi as director of the company Sixième Son, specializing in audio branding.
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Why Do We Need Sounds
Audio branding is creating a sound image of a brand. With its help, the brand receives its own audible language, reflecting its essence and individuality;
This language is used at all points of contact with consumers and adapts to various channels, situations, and audiences.
Sounds and music evoke certain emotions in the client and complement their consumer experience.
In the digital age, audio branding is becoming even more important due to the audio playback capabilities of digital devices.
The musical signals of computers and smartphones communicate certain information.
The language of music that everyone understands gives the brand another form of communication.
“In modern conditions, brands should treat the sound with the same attention and discipline as they relate to their corporate graphics and visual presentation of the brand.”
The use of certain sounds and music at all stages of the consumer experience reinforces the brand message and makes it recognizable.
Sounds can create an atmosphere of calm or joy, express an idea or tell a story.
Sound affects consumers, even when their attention is focused on something else.
To reduce the sound design to callsigns, jingles, to treat it as something secondary or to develop it for only one advertising campaign means to miss huge opportunities.
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The Sound of the French Railway
Sound identity serves as a thread linking together all the territories where your brand is represented, its points of contact with customers and communication channels.
She distinguishes the brand from many others, emphasizes its individuality and teaches people to recognize your brand with their eyes closed.
“Despite the fact that an idea expressed in music may not be as clear and understandable as a thought expressed in words, it has a much higher potential for brand differentiation.”
Until the French national railroad, SNCF developed its own audio brand, the French associated it with strikes and late trains.
Increased competition from airlines, as well as Italian and German railway companies, forced SNCF to create its own audio brand and begin to promote it.
Today, 92% of respondents correctly recognize this company after hearing its callsigns.
The SNCF melody caught the attention of rock musician David Gilmore, one of the leaders of Pink Floyd, who contacted Sixième Son, SNCF audio agency, with a proposal for collaboration.
As a result, the song Rattle That Lock appeared, the melody of which is built on the signal of the French railway. The song took the first lines of the charts in France and the UK.
Variety of Channels
New technologies are transforming the marketing environment, forcing companies to change branding strategies.
The proliferation of devices that reproduce audio makes it possible to combine visual and sound images.
In addition to traditional advertising, PR, and promotions, marketers can use sound channels to spread brand messages.
In how the brand is presented on websites, on social networks, in retail stores, at trade shows, consistency must be observed.
The audio brand helps to combine visual and verbal points of contact with consumers.
“A brand always has many aspects. Consequently, the sound image of your brand will never reflect only one of the facets of its personality. There are endless ways to combine these different faces. ”
The person’s attention span is shrinking and today is an average of eight seconds. And the sound signal penetrates consciousness even when the listener is focused on something else.
A sound audio branding strategy is a tool for creating a holistic consumer experience that helps to create a common basis for a marketing message, regardless of where the consumer encounters it – on the Internet, in the real world or somewhere in between.
Audio DNA Brand
When developing or updating a brand, formulate its essence.
Pick two words that reflect it well. So, for Walmart, it could be “leadership-ministry.”
This phrase is not used in brand communications, but in the management of the branding process, the company’s marketers are based on the concept of “leadership-service”. Write a short sentence explaining your brand’s mission.
Determine what his character and personality consist of. These elements make up the brand’s DNA. It is the starting point for the audio branding process, as a result of which DNA is transformed into melody, rhythm, tempo and musical harmony. They form the brand’s audio DNA.
Today, marketers know how important it is to appeal to all five senses, not limited to visual images.
So, a sense of taste is more than the result of chemical reactions in the mouth. Taste provokes an emotional reaction, awakening memories and associations in the mind.
Sense of taste is used in marketing not only food products, but also other products, such as clothing.
For example, the Trunk Club company, which provides personal stylist services, uses this particular channel of perception, treating customers with beer, wine and strong alcoholic drinks.
“Tactile branding” reinforces other branding elements. “Olfactory marketing” is quickly gaining popularity: the smell, like sound, is perceived without paying attention to it. Hotels for example
Sound at Customer Contact Points
The work that defines your brand’s audio DNA is a short, custom-made piece of music that you tailor to different points of contact and customer interaction scenarios.
Based on audio DNA, create a proprietary multifunctional audio collection, your “library” of sounds and melodies.
It should include the sound symbol of the brand – the audiologotype – which can be used separately or as part of another piece of music as a call sign or ending. Where possible, an audiologotype should accompany your graphic logo.
“The number of possible sound combinations is unlimited, and that is why each audio brand has its own sound that cannot be confused with the other.”
Many companies allow their graphic brand names to appear on television without music, depriving themselves of the opportunity to create a catchy audio image. Music that emphasizes the idea or storyline of a commercial enhances its impact.
Sound is important for all points of contact between a brand and a consumer. The simplest examples are music that sounds while waiting for a response from a telephone operator, and ringtones.
It is important to remember that a music collection specially created for a brand has more value than melodies purchased under license: they already carry a number of associations.
“The market is becoming more saturated, so branding is beginning to play an increasingly important strategic role. The rules of the game have changed. But branding has changed. ”
Modern companies produce huge amounts of content. Kraft, for example, offers customers around 450 videos with recipes and cooking tips.
Give originality to your content — whether it’s product stories, customer experience stories, or instructional videos — with proprietary audio.
Specially designed sound design for various events and events will cause more positive emotions in those present than We Are the Champions and other well-worn tunes.
Branded music will highlight your brand at industry exhibitions, take press events to a new level, creating high spirits and at the same time recalling the brand.
“Your brand’s unique audio identity has tremendous power to bring employees together and make them proud of the company.”
In household appliances, digital devices, hands-free systems, and other similar devices, various beeps and signals are used to alert users.
Replace standard beeps, announcements, and automatic beeps with company sound like SNCF did. Consider them as an important element of your audio collection and use sounds that are pleasant to the hearing, which facilitates interaction with consumers, rather than interfere with it.
The music of the brand complements the physical environment in which the client is located, from parking lots and elevators to lobbies and trading floors.
Preparing for an Audio Branding Project
Design a sound identity that reflects all aspects of your brand.
Focus on the core brand attributes.
Despite the fact that, on the whole, the ability to understand musical images is a universal feature, think about whether it will be necessary to adapt your corporate audio to various national cultures.
As you prepare to launch your audio branding project, start by developing a conceptual approach that will become the foundation of your strategy.
Music should not be created or selected according to the criteria “sounds beautiful” or “like”; it should primarily reflect the attributes of your brand.
Do not limit yourself to a jingle, create a whole “dictionary” of sounds and melodies.
Learn what competitors are doing in the field and make sure you are clearly different from the rest.
Creating an Audio Brand
The development of an audio brand in many ways resembles the development of a brand as such and consists of the same stages.
Conduct brand analysis and formulate the task.
Members of the audio team must carefully study the brand, analyze the status of competitors and draw up an action plan.
Form an “audience committee” of 6-10 people who are familiar with your brand and represent different areas of activity (knowledge of music is not necessary for them).
Then the audio strategies should create “mood collections” – playlists containing short pieces of music that convey a specific idea. For example, one such collection may be devoted to innovation, the other to joy and pleasure.
“The most amazing” superpower “of music as a means of communication is the ability to overcome geographical, social, economic, age and other boundaries.”
Then the musicians from the audio team compose from three to five 45-second compositions, each of which includes an audiologotype of the brand lasting 2.5-3 seconds.
The committee of listeners chooses two options that most convincingly express the message of the brand. After their completion, a final decision is made.
The audio team creates a proprietary audio collection and compiles an audio brand book – a guide for its use. Introduce the new sound identity to your employees first, and then to your customers.
In the first year, regularly conduct training workshops on audio branding for potential users from the departments of marketing, personnel, technical support and customer service.
Audio Brand Book
To ensure consistency in the use of a proprietary audio collection, include an audio brand book in the general brand logo guide.
Insert links to musical and sound segments with examples of their use.
An audio brand book should include the contents of the audio collection, ways to adapt sound fragments to various situations, instructions that prevent misuse.
An audio brand book may include the following components:
- Sound identity. This specially written arrangement is the sound image of the brand and contains audio DNA and the brand’s audiologotype.
- Audio DNA. It is the epitome of the brand in music, with intro and melody reflecting the characteristics and promise of the brand. Do not confuse it with the musical “backing”, in other words, the basis; users cannot change it, just like they cannot change the graphic logo of a company.
- Audiologotype. A short piece of music lasting 2.5-3 seconds, which accompanies the display of a graphic symbol of the company, and also marks the end of any communication. No one has the right to modify the audiologotype.
- Arrangements. Develop instructions for using sound fragments in different processing for different contact points. It can be ringtones, musical “backgrounds” for videos, greeting sounds, the sound design of meetings and events, endings for the final frames of commercials.
Audio Brand Life
The sound brand self-created by you can live for many years.
By creating strong sound associations with the brand, you will get the freedom of action in the use of arrangements. For example, United Airlines since the mid-1980s has been using variations on Gershwin’s “Blue Rhapsody”.
“The elements of multi-sensory stimulation in the retail space act as a magnet, forcing customers to prefer one brand to the rest.”
Treat the created audio brand carefully as a strategically important element.
You can ensure its longevity by observing the following rules: remember that the audio brand does not belong exclusively to the marketing department, but is the property of all employees; they are your internal audience and the main agents of the brand idea.
From the very beginning, take care of a certain universality of audio DNA so that the company can adapt it to different situations.
If the brand undergoes significant changes, it will be necessary to renew its audio identity in order to reflect a new direction of development. Regularly update your audio brand book.
Assign an employee to oversee how brand audio identity is used. If the company is an active advertiser (say, a supermarket chain),
Even those brands that pay a lot of attention to the use of their audio symbols in advertising and corporate content often make a blunder in retail stores.
They play the usual inexpressive background music. Given the availability of streaming audio, there is no excuse for such a mindless approach to using audio in retail outlets.
Make playlists of songs that emphasize the value of your brand.
Include short musical “references” to the brand in them – sound bites lasting six to seven seconds, reminding customers why they came to the store.
So, a subtle chime in a jewelry store will evoke the image of precious stones in the minds of buyers; in the car dealership, the rumble of a running engine will be appropriate, and in the toy store – children’s laughter.
- The audio brand reflects the personality of the brand and consistently reinforces the brand message at all points of contact with consumers.
- Audio branding helps to highlight the brand, increase its memorability and form positive associations.
- People perceive the sounds around them, including your audio brand, even if their attention is focused on something else.
- Brand attributes are embodied in the melody, rhythm, tempo and musical harmony that make up the brand’s audio DNA.
- On the basis of this DNA, a collection of sound fragments is created, which includes an audiologotype – the sound symbol of the company – lasting 2.5-3 seconds.
- Multi-sensory branding affects different sensory organs, reinforces brand messages and improves customer experience.
- The audio branding process is similar to the branding process itself.
- Your audio brand book must ensure the correct and consistent use of the brand’s audio collection.
- For retail stores, create playlists of ready-made tunes to help express your brand’s personality in music.
- If you treat the audio brand as a strategically important asset, it will serve your company for decades.
Why You Should Read “Audio Branding”
- All marketing specialists will find this book useful
- Audio sharing websites and podcasts are growing exponentially
- Understand how to do audio branding the right way
This book is available as: