International research shows that sound can have a powerful impact on branding and brand identity.
Sound is compelling. It creates meaningful associations that we remember more readily than the written word. Whether in the form of music, voice, or simple D sounds (voiced sounds).
Audio branding provides the opportunity for companies to impact audiences more potently than 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.
Excluding distinctively branded audio from your company and service messaging is a mistake. You can enhance your marketing efforts by invoking more senses in your audience. 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 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
Understanding what audio branding is is essential in assessing the needs of your business, which will determine how the business should incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
Audio branding goes beyond logos, fonts, colours, and visual elements. Sound speaks in a universal language, crafting meaningful association with the audience in a more visceral capacity.
An audio logo or mnemonic (like a rhyme or jingle) may be at the heart of your audio branding. Some success stories have outgrown their initial use and taken on a life of their own. Everyone knows the Windows startup sound or the 90s Nokia ringtone.
Even if they have never had a Nokia.
Apple caught onto the power of audio early, trademarking its previous signature boot-up sound.
It doesn't end there! Apple's original start-up chord and other iconic sounds, including the unforgettable Sosumi, were created by Jim Reekes using basic musical chords. He also devised the camera click still heard on older iMacs and iPhones, using his Canon camera sound.
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. The sound of the lion roar is arguably more well-known than the name of the company!
Many production companies have followed suit to establish such potent audio branding, ubiquitous to their company. 20th Century Fox audio branding is unmistakable, and the Law and Order audio brand is unforgettable.
While many products and companies have a sound or a sound combined with a visual logo, many more have voice branding the Sega start-up voices, which immediately said to gamers, 'this is a powerful console!'
McDonald’s has used spoken voice for many years, in the most famous way. Rumoured to have been devised to increase their profits, “Ba Da Ba Ba Ba I’m Lovin It” practically 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, in podcasts, or as part of live broadcasts on your social networks.
If you have a 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 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.
You might opt to put your logo and 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 allows you to emotionally impact your potential customers and audience in a completely new way.
Done properly, audio branding can add another dimension 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.
According to the Harvard Business Review, research presented at the 2012 Audio Branding Congress showed that sound cues could significantly increase visual searches for online and in-store products.
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.
Branding through voices are ever more important these days. 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 – you probably see what we mean too!
This indicates that the future of technology in our society will be funnelled by voice and voice tech. It is no wonder, as sound holds the power to amplify trust in your brand.
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 have the small task of determining how to start.
If you're already working with an advertising agency, they will 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. However, this is going to come at a cost. Not to mention, 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. After all, who knows more about your brand than you?
It's not too tricky. 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 (We just might!).
There’s been lots of research done 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 overall image. Whilst it's connected closely with audio branding, it's not the 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 only get one shot at a first impression.
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.
Sometimes we include links to online retail stores such as Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, if you click on a link and make a
purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.