Audio branding (or Sound Branding) is the use of sound to reinforce a company’s brand identity. It is becoming an increasingly popular method of providing customers with a memorable message and utilises the powerful memory sense of sound. It can be an extremely effective way to spread the word about your brand because almost everyone loves music, yet not everyone enjoys being bombarded by advertising.
Consider this, the average person is exposed to anywhere from 200 to 3,500 adverts PER DAY which is why so many marketing efforts fall flat on their face. Audio branding comes at it from a different angle and consumers seem to be more receptive to it. Yet sound branding is not just about playing a jaunty tune in the background – marketing teams need to know how a brand actually ‘sounds’ to the general public.
5 Ways to Apply Audio Branding
One of the best things about sound branding is that it can be used in places where visual branding cannot, for example:
- Radio Jingles: Our brains are wired to respond to music in extremely powerful ways and simple melodies can be recalled and hummed easily. While radio jingles can be seen as ‘old-fashioned’, they are still an excellent way to increase consumer recall of your brand.
- Video Clips: This combines the power of visual imagery with music and helps to bring out greater emotions in the message. They are especially popular on Youtube intros and in short marketing promos.
- Voiceover: Again, these will be used in conjunction with video to provide an enhanced viewing experience while ensuring a higher level of recall.
- Company Anthem: You can use this to instil beliefs and represent pride in your brand. This anthem will become synonymous with your business and is an effective branding tool.
- Sonic Logos: These are becoming very popular on social media networks and consist of a musical piece or a short series of notes. As with the above examples, sonic logos work with visuals to make the advert more memorable.
Why Choose Sound Branding?
One of the great mantras in marketing is that customers ‘buy on emotion and justify with logic’. Music is known for its ability to stir emotions; in every movie you watch, for example, music is used to set a mood. Whether there is a poignant moment, an action sequence or potential danger, there will be background music playing to heighten the sadness/tension/action.
The big challenge you face with music is selecting the emotions and feelings you wish to communicate with your brand. While it is possible for customers to close their eyes, they can’t close their ears unless they wish to walk around with their fingers stuck in their ears and this can be plain awkward! As sound is essentially a primal instinct, we react to it instinctively and this includes the sounds placed in advertising.
There are an immense number of studies that show how music improves mood and enhances productivity and as you know, a happy customer is one that is willing to spend more! Why do you think retail stores play music? A study by music licensing company PPL showed that 97% of retail stores play in-store music. I’m willing to bet that the profits of the 3% that don’t play music are probably below the average.
When Should You Implement Audio Branding?
Realistically, you should be at least thinking about how your brand sounds no matter how your business is faring. However, there are specific times when you really need to consider sound branding:
During Rebranding: If you are looking for a new logo design as part of your new visual identity, it makes perfect sense to consider how your brand sounds too. This is essential as we live in a multi-sensory world and ignoring one of the most important senses is the equivalent of neglecting your brand. As you are refreshing your look, customers will not be surprised at the new sounds you create.
Repositioning: When you reposition your business, you are normally changing the way in which your business communicates. As a result, your business is probably looking to inspire new emotions in their customers and since the sound is one of the best emotional drivers, you need to look at how your brand sounds if you wish to make the most of your company’s change in direction.
New Launch: Launching a new product is a critical moment for any business and in some cases; a company’s future can depend on how the new arrival performs. As you will be starting with a ‘clean slate’, you have the perfect opportunity to associate a certain sound with your new product. If you get the sound right in the new launch, it can significantly improve the performance of the product.
It is a fact that major brands are now adopting audio branding strategies though some are still reluctant due to the perceived high cost of developing a new sound. This impression probably comes to failures such as the Barclaycard commercial that featured Let Your Love Flow by the Bellamy Brothers. The problem here was that Barclay’s didn’t own the music license outright so it was only a short-term thing and the campaign cost millions by all accounts.
You can, of course, try and create an original music jingle to save yourself the hassle of paying royalties. There is arguably no greater stirrer of emotions than music so use audio branding correctly and you could turn casual purchasers into advocates of your brand.
Recommended Books on Sound Branding
Audio Branding: Brands, Sound and Communication
Kai Bronner, Rainer Hirth