Audio branding can be incredibly powerful, and if harnessed well, it can add a whole new dimension to a brand.
Take a moment to think of Nokia’s iconic ringtone, the “I’m lovin’ it” jingle from McDonald’s, the tune of the ice cream truck, and your favorite Christmas jingle. Did you hear these sounds play in your subconscious mind? Why do only particular sounds gain the most awareness and become the most identifiable on Earth?
Because sounds have the power to impact emotions directly. We, humans, are incredibly auditory creatures. We remember sounds because they activate our brain cells and associate memories and feelings with brands who created that sound.
Audio branding ensures that people will know which brand these sounds came from – if they create indelible audio.
We’re living in an advertisement-drenched world where influencing buyers has become more difficult than ever. If people sense they’re being sold something, they shut down. So brands burrow into a consumer’s subconscious without really ‘advertising’ with the power of music.
So, what does your brand sound like? Is it perky and upbeat? Slow and luxurious? Instrumental or techno? Sound is a language that you can use to communicate your brand’s feel.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to speak the language of sound through audio branding.
So, what exactly is audio branding?
It’s the use of sound to define, reinforce and strengthen a company’s identity. It can play a part in getting your business noticed if you deploy it across various marketing channels. It’s about creating intuitive sounds that connect with your audience’s emotions.
Why is audio branding important?
Music contributes to brand awareness in much the same way that speeches contribute to establishing and expressing identities. It’s the back door to consumers’ minds. When they hear good music, they feel something.
Audio branding is a powerful tool that can help businesses connect with their target audiences in a more personal and engaging way. Music helps evoke emotions and memories in the buyer’s head that inform their decisions. According to iHeartMedia, about 31% of consumers spend their time utilizing some form of audio, such as podcasts, jingles, adverts, etc. and the trend is likely to grow.
Music is the ninja assassin of advertisements and if brands employ these ninja assassin secrets, they can reach a whole new group of people, build awareness, and drive sales.
However, all brands can’t just play German oompah music and expect sales to skyrocket. More realistically, companies should find music that echoes their brand message; and conjures the “feel of the brand.” If you learn to craft the perfect audio for your brand that evokes the set of emotions that your brand represents, oftentimes it means a sale.
Audio branding statistics
A few years ago, a study was conducted involving different styles of music being played in a supermarket to check the influence of music on buying decisions.
When French music was played, 77% of the French wine was purchased and when German music filled the air, 73% of German wine was purchased.
Decision-making was drastically altered by the music being played. What’s even more amazing is that customers didn’t realize or believe that music was influencing them.
The prerequisites when it comes to creating an audio strategy
When used effectively, audio can create an emotional connection with your listeners and help you build a strong relationship with your audience.
However, you can’t just jump in and start expecting results. There are some preparations to do, and they are as follows.
1. Identify your target audience
When thinking of an audio strategy, it is important to know your target audience. Understanding the needs of your target market will help you determine what type of sound will make them hum with excitement. For instance, if your target audience is young adults, you may create jazzy, raucous beats.
On the other hand, if your target audience is business professionals, you may want to create
audio content that is educational and informative. Whatever your target audience, thinking of
them when creating your audio strategy will help ensure that your audio content is effective and engaging.
2. What type of audio content you want to create
There are many different types of audio content that you can create, and the best way to determine what type of audio content will work best for your strategy is to think about your goals and objectives. Would a podcast be a good format? Or would a simple audio recording suffice?
Whichever format you go with, make sure that it should be interesting and valuable to your audience. It should also be relevant to your brand and what you’re trying to achieve. Once you know what type of audio content you want to create, you can start planning out the details.
3. How you will promote your audio content
When it comes to audio, you can’t just post a podcast and expect people to find it. You need to promote your audio content to get people to listen. For this, it’s imperative to identify the most effective channels for reaching your target market. There are several ways to promote audio content, including through social media, email marketing, and paid advertising.
Depending on the size and scope of your project, you may want to consider using a combination of these methods to reach your target audience. Additionally, you’ll need to create compelling content that will encourage people to listen.
4. How often you will release new audio content
Releasing new audio content too often can overwhelm your audience and cause them to tune out. However, releasing new audio content too infrequently can also cause your audience to lose interest. For this reason, it’s important to find the right balance for your business and release new audio content accordingly. Try testing different frequencies to see what works best for you. Whether that’s once a week, once a month, or something else, make sure you have a plan for how often you’ll release new content.
5. What equipment you need to create your audio content
Depending on the type of audio content you’re creating, you may need different types of equipment. For example, if you’re creating a podcast, you’ll need a microphone and recording software. If you’re creating an audiobook, you may need narration software. Make sure you have the right equipment before you start creating your audio content.
6. What platforms you’ll be using
When thinking of an audio strategy, it is important to consider which platforms you will be using. Different platforms offer different audio experiences. For example, Spotify is great for music discovery, while Anchor is perfect for listening to podcasts. It’s important to consider which platforms your target audience is using so you can reach them where they already are. Crafting a good audio strategy requires a lot of pre-work. Without a plan in place, you may find yourself overwhelmed and struggling to make your voice heard. By taking the time to develop a strategy, you can ensure that your audio will be effective and engaging.
Tips for doing a successful audio branding
Now that you have your target audience, objectives, and marketing strategy in place, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to create successful audio content for your brand. A lot of marketers think that producing audio content is easy and that all you need is a phone and a microphone, but well this is totally wrong.
However, audio content is not only difficult to produce but also takes a lot of time and effort. You need to have a good idea, be able to structure your thoughts in an interesting way and have a clear voice that people will want to listen to. Besides, you need to make sure your audio equipment is up to scratch, otherwise your content will sound terrible.
Here are some tips to help you get started with audio branding strategy.
1. Create custom creative
When it comes to audio marketing, having custom creative is essential to standing out and getting noticed. With so much noise out there, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter and be heard. But with custom creative, you can create an audio marketing strategy that is truly unique and will capture the attention of your target audience.
Custom creatives can help you tell your brand story in a way that is engaging and memorable. It can also help you target specific demographics with laser-like precision. Be mindful that generic stock audio just won’t cut it – you need something that will resonate with your customers and help you stand out from the competition.
2. Educate and inform
Your audio branding strategy should definitely include informing your customers about your product or service. However, you don’t want to be too salesy about it. The key is to find a balance between providing the information they need and keeping your sales pitch from being too over the top. Let the audience know what your product or service is and what it can do for them, but don’t try to hard sell them on it.
3. Keep your audio short
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to have a well-thought-out audio strategy. Because people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, you must keep your message succinct and to the point. Too long and you risk losing your listeners’ attention; too short and you may not be able to effectively communicate your message.
4. Consistency is golden
Sound designer Henry Daw, who helped build Nokia’s audio brand, said,
“Consistency is vital for the core brand sounds. But consistency doesn’t mean that everything needs to sound the same. Rather the aim is to sing from the same hymn sheet—your overall brand sound needs to match your product while staying brand consistent.”
Nokia is a great example of audio flexibility while staying brand consistent. Its first 90’s tune was a tonal, electronic buzzing sound, the early 2000’s ringtone had a softer tone and then later became more classical sounding with piano, morphed to acoustic Spanish guitar, and eventually similar to Apple’s xylophone sound.
5. Create an entire soundscape
Soundscapes are custom-created continuous or long-lasting combinations of music with other sounds, meant to set a mood. If you decide to commit to an audio branding strategy, creating an entire soundscape for your company is a good idea. In a retail setting, for example, playing certain sounds can help increase customer satisfaction. Healthcare professionals can use soundscapes to help soothe patients’ anxiety, and event planners can use them to create an atmosphere. Really, the only limit is your imagination!
You can take inspiration from a resort-wear store that has a soundscape that combines Caribbean steel drum music with the sound of surf and seagulls with a little tinkling of ice in a glass mixed in. Or a store selling whimsical clothing for young girls with a soundscape including flute music and thrilling magical sounds.
6. Learn the connection between emotions and sounds
When choosing your brand audio, consider sensory characteristics of your brand – such as the color and shape of your logo – and ensure they’re compatible with human emotions. A study at the University of California, Berkeley, identified the following 13 emotions provoked by particular types of music.
|Amused||Upbeat, high-pitched music and slide whistles|
|Annoyed||Unstructured and dissonant sounds, such as modern jazz|
|Anxiety||Suspenseful music with sudden changes in tone|
|Appreciative||Beautiful music, including classical pieces|
|Soothed||The music you hear in spas, and the sounds of waves/rain|
|Cheerful||Upbeat to medium tempo songs and sounds – with positive lyrics like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – and sounds like a baby laughing or a bird chirping|
|Dreamy||Slow, flowing music/sounds with a repetitive theme; lullabies, for instance|
|Energized||Upbeat music like rock with guitar riffs, club and dance music|
|Sultry||Slow music in lower notes|
|Sad||Slow music with piano sounds|
|Defiant||Rock and heavy metal music|
|Triumphant||Soaring, anthemic music|
|Afraid||Very sow, dramatic music or howling wind|
What types of audio content can you use for marketing?
When it comes to audio content, there are a lot of different options that you can use for marketing purposes.
Here are just a few examples:
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular to reach out to target audiences. Brands can create and distribute their own podcasts, which gives them a unique way to connect with consumers. Podcasts are usually shorter than traditional radio shows and can be downloaded and listened to at the listener’s convenience. You can use podcasts to talk about your product or service or to provide helpful tips and advice.
Teleseminars are a great way to connect with customers and prospects without having to leave the office. They are like webinars but are conducted over the phone instead of online.
Teleseminars can be used for a variety of purposes, including product launches, customer support, training sessions, and more. They’re also a great way to generate leads and increase sales. You can use teleseminars to reach out to a wider audience or to provide more personalized service.
Brands can launch audiobooks to create a new content marketing channel and reach a wider audience. Audiobooks can be a great way to repurpose existing content or create new content specifically for this format. In either case, audiobooks can be a powerful marketing tool to reach new customers and build brand awareness.
No matter what type of audio content you choose to use, make sure that it’s high quality and informative as this will help you to attract more listeners, and to keep them coming back for more.
Audio branding examples
Still a little foggy about what audio branding can do for your business? Take inspiration from these audio branding examples from major retailers and big brands.
They’re investing big bucks to subtly whisper in your ear “come spend with us”.
Example 1: Intel and brand recognition
Look at the Intel logo, or say the brand’s name, and you might just find yourself humming that familiar 5-note tune. In fact, at one point it was ranked as the second most addictive sound in the world, just behind the sound of a baby laughing. Crazy, right?
Intel’s audio branding was introduced in 1994 with a simple tune which helped Intel to become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
Example 2: Lenovo and brand identity
There’s a good chance you remember the “Hello Moto” audio branding more than you recall the brand name “Lenovo.” Lenovo launched its “Hello Moto” mnemonic, to create a feeling of innovation while showcasing a bold, quirky and unexpected brand identity. In 2016, Motorola brought “Hello Moto” back after several years of ignoring their audio branding altogether to drive nostalgia among customers. The campaign was intended to remind customers of the nostalgic sound they used to hear when they opened up their mobile phones.
Example 3: Coca-Cola and brand loyalty
Coca-Cola uses strategic sound bites to enhance the brand experiences for its customers. Recall the last Coca-Cola advert you saw. Along with the fun music and the “Always Coca-Cola” jingle, you probably also recalled the satisfied sounds of customers, the pop of bottle tops, and the sound of a drink fizzing over ice. These unique sounds enable Coca-Cola to deliver a more visceral experience. By including these sounds in their ads, Coca-Cola created an emotional connection with its customers.
Coca-Cola’s soundscape is so iconic that it surpasses language or geographic boundaries. The brand creates the “Always Coca-Cola” line in melody, rather than words to create an audio branding strategy that goes beyond language – sell an experience.
As a brand should you be leveraging the power of sound?
Yes, you should. Sound is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal, and it can be used to great effect in marketing and advertising. By using sound judiciously, you can create an emotional response in your audience that can be very difficult to achieve through other means.
Think about the last time you heard a truly great piece of music. It probably evoked a strong
emotional response in you, whether it was happiness, sadness, excitement, or something else. Now imagine if your brand could create that same response in your customers. That is the power of sound.
Of course, you need to be careful about using sound. It can be very easy to overdo it and create a jarring, unpleasant experience for your audience. But if you use it sparingly and thoughtfully, sound can be a powerful tool to help your brand stand out and create a lasting impression on your customers.
Leverage the power of sound for your brand
Audio is a vital part of any effective content strategy. By understanding how to use audio effectively, brands can create a more engaging and dynamic user experience. When used correctly, audio can add another dimension to your content and help you connect with your audience on a deeper level. By following the tips above, you can create an audio branding strategy that will help your brand stand out.
Sound Is Language, Learn To Speak It!