International research shows that sound can have a very strong impact on branding and brand identity.
Sound is incredibly powerful. It creates meaningful associations that we remember more readily than pictures or the written word.
Whether in the form of music, voice, or simple D sounds (voiced sounds). Audio branding provides the opportunity for companies to emotionally impact their audience in a way that’s different from the visual norm.
Developing brand value requires a long-term commitment and a properly thought-out strategy that will build and hone the character and personality of your brand. If you don’t currently use distinctive audio in your company branding. Or in the products and the services you offer. You are vastly reducing the impact of your marketing efforts. Like taste and smell; sound is a strong memory trigger because it links directly with our emotions.
There are excellent professional services that you can use to help your business with audio branding. For example, here at Voquent, we regularly assist with audio branding services which include voice-over services for logos, straplines, telephone IVR systems and of course, the narration of promo videos and explainers.
The question isn’t: ‘do I need an audio branding service?‘ It is: ‘what type of audio branding is right for my business?’.
The basics of audio branding
To assess your needs and the needs of your business, it’s essential to understand what audio branding is and how it should be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy.
For starters, audio branding goes beyond logos, fonts, colours, and the visual elements we use to distinguish products and services when establishing a brand of any form. Because sound speaks a universal language and acts on our physiology, using audio enables companies to communicate at a deeper level and create a meaningful association with their audience, including potential customers.
It might include an audio logo or mnemonic, like a rhyme or short ditty for example. Some of the most powerful examples of audio branding are simple sounds that you hear. For example, when Windows starts up; when you get an email; or that 90s Nokia ringtone.
Apple even trademarked it’s signature boot-up sound, though it’s not in use anymore. Their original apple start-up chord, and other iconic sounds, including the unforgettable Sosumi (after The Beatles unsuccessfully tried to sue Apple for using music for audio branding), were created by Jim Reekes using basic musical chords. He also devised the camera click still heard on older iMacs and iPhones, using the sound his Canon camera made.
You are exposed to audio branding in all kinds of advertisements for products, from Coca Cola to your favourite food or furniture company, whether on the radio or in visuals seen on television or in movies.
The Metro Goldwyn Mayer lion has been a roaring audio branding success for more than a century, even though the exact visual and audio logo has changed in detail over the years. 20th Century Fox (now just known as 20th Century following Disney’s purchase from Murdoch) audio branding is unmistakable and the Law and Order audio brand is unforgettable.
While many products and companies just have a sound or a sound combined with a visual logo. Many more have voice branding, like “Michelin, a better way forward,” which is linked visually with the Michelin Man logo. Or the Sega start-up voices, which immediately said to gamers ‘this is a powerful console!’ And hilariously Neox Kidz, a Spanish children’s TV programme, created their audio brand using helium voices. A perfect way to appeal to a young audience.
McDonald’s has used voice (although not a lot of it) for many years. Said to have been devised to increase their profits, “Ba Da Ba Ba Ba I’m Lovin It” saved them!
But audio branding goes further than this, and it certainly isn’t limited to large corporations and global companies. The audio experience that customers encounter can be used in the most basic way. For instance in on hold-messaging systems for your office telephone line. Welcome videos on your website. Or in podcasts, or in live broadcasts on your social networks.
If you have radio, television, or social media ads for your products and services, audio branding is a must: “…getting a sonic identity is a bigger statement and signals greater ambition…” says MarketingWeek. And it must be consistent with your brand as developed across the board.
All brands rely on some sort of graphics if only a logo on their letterhead. Just as you use this one logo for your company, you will need to choose sounds in the form of music and/or a voice actor that will be consistent across your marketing and service channels. If you’re appealing to a teenage market, you may want a young voice. Similarly, if you are appealing to more mature customers, the tone and expression of the voice you choose will be quite different.
You might opt to put your logo and your sound together to create what is known in the industry as a brand asset.
Either way, simple sounds, music, and audio effect (FX) will require careful consideration to ensure they match your established or newly created brand.
What are the benefits of branding your company’s audio experience?
Audio branding is a proven way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can add more context to your overall brand and it gives you the opportunity to emotionally impact your potential customers and audience in a completely new way.
Done properly, audio branding can add another level of life to your company’s overall profile and give you a much better chance of leaving a lasting impression. It will also enable you to make the brand experience consistent across all your marketing platforms.
Many studies show how sound can humanize brands and how voice and music can generate favourable responses to products, company profiles, and services, and make them more memorable.
For instance, a much-cited study undertaken by Leicester University found that the use of music in brand identity made it 96% more likely that brands would be remembered.
According to the Harvard Business Review, research presented at the 2012 Audio Branding Congress showed that sound cues could increase visual searches for online and in-store products significantly.
Deloitte Global actively promotes the rise of voice technology and how sound can be converted into branding opportunities. They calculated a 63% growth rate in smart speakers in 2019.
And a reason they say audio branding is so successful is that according to a Canadian survey of 2,000 people, our attention span has decreased in 20 years, from 12 seconds in the year 2000, to 8 seconds in 2020!
Think about the automated voices that are used by major companies in the communications industry. Voices like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Voice, and Samsung’s Bixbi. Evidence shows that about 50% of people choose this option when searching for information. People don’t have time to read either, they often prefer to watch a video instead. So if you’ve got this far in the article, well done!
This indicates that the future of technology in our society is going to be funnelled by voice and voice tech.
If you want to increase trust in your brand and impact the mood of your audience, it’s important to be heard, especially when you can’t be seen, like on a podcast or radio. And what better way to do this than by extending your brand reach with sound?
If this sounds right to you – and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t – you’re ready to connect with a professional audio branding service.
What’s in an audio branding service?
You’ve made up your mind. You need audio branding. Yay!
Now you just have the small task of determining how to start.
If you’re already working with an advertising agency, they will, of course, be able to help you. They’ll already know about your brand. How it started. What makes it special. What motivates the business and what you believe drives it to succeed. They will be able to offer you creative ideas you may not have thought of yourself, but this is going to come at a cost. And they will sub-contract the actual production work to a company like Voquent anyway.
So if you’re not working with an ad agency why not take on the branding creative yourself, it is definitely doable. It’s about identifying how you want the audience to feel and then matching that with audio characteristics relevant to their age, gender and education level. We could write a whole separate article on the subject of creating an audio brand and we probably will do so in the future. This article has been written just to help get the ideas flowing.
There’s been lots of research done in an attempt to find out what type of sounds makes sense for different kinds of brands. Certain pop songs become hits because they become embedded in our brains long after the song has finished playing. This is why some brands use musical or vocal stings. I mean, who could forget this chap?
After hearing an audio brand like Go Compare it’s (unfortunately) impossible to forget. But it works.
Vocal branding can be tricky to get right though. A voice is part of your image. Whilst it’s connected closely with audio branding it’s not the exact same thing. For example, you can have a specific feel or vocal tone for a specific commercial, but that doesn’t necessarily have to become the de facto sound of the company.
People unconsciously judge others when they speak. They will create an image in their head of who they think you are and what you are about. Often they are way off the mark!
This is why choosing the right voice for your business marketing is critical.
You are the best person to run your business, but do you have the right voice to brand what your business stands for? Probably not.
Ultimately, audio branding is a science that transfers the effects of the personality of a voice or a sound to the brand. It goes way beyond words. It gets emotional. For this reason, it is essential to literally design the voice and other sounds used to match your brand and company-wide marketing strategy.
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- Is There a Science To Moving Others With Your Voice?
- Articulating Your Brand – How to Use a Professional Voice to Stand Out
- 3 Steps To Promote Your Business Better With Voice-Over