What is Audio Branding and how do you do it?
April 23, 2019
All this noise about audio and its rising popularity may have persuaded you to take the plunge and create an audio identity for your brand. There’s no shortage of people who’ll tell you it’s a great time to do it (me included), but what exactly IS audio branding, and how do you go about creating and implementing it? Read on.
So Audio Branding is…?
It’s not necessarily just a jingle or sonic logo, although it could be. The aim should be to build a distinctive sound for a brand which reflects the brand’s identity. It might be music, voice, sound effects or a combination of all three.
Designing Audio Branding
Much like you would do when designing a visual identity, start by taking a close look at the brand, its values, its aspirations and the way consumers perceive it.
Look too at the target audience, profiling the people who consume the brand. There’s no point in producing audio you believe reflects the brand that doesn’t resonate with its customers.
Producing Audio Branding
We’ll explore different voices, sounds and music before producing a shortlist of outline ideas for review. All mixes and variations of the chosen idea will then be recorded and mixed. A single extended ‘brand theme’ can sometimes be remixed several times over to give you all the elements you need.
Best practice will include creative testing: with something as important as the sound of your brand a small investment in research before launch will pay dividends and optimise results.
Applying Audio Branding
Audio branding reaches the consumer in a number of ways across multiple touchpoints and in different circumstances, so it’s important to adapt the audio to suit. For example, a broadcast campaign advertising a flash sale may need something bright, urgent and upbeat; the music a customer hears while on hold in an automated switchboard needs to be slow and soothing. This can all be planned for and produced at the same time to save costs.
On the right tracks
One of the first brands to wholeheartedly embrace audio branding was French railway operator SNCF.
The SNCF sonic logo, first created in 2005, has become France’s most famous audio brand and has even been immortalised in popular culture by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who sampled it for the title track of his album “Rattle That Lock”.
What made SNCF’s sound so famous was consistent application across multiple consumer touchpoints over a period of time. The four note sonic started appearing in all their broadcast ads. Then they started to apply it in ambient applications, replacing the chimes that precede every announcement in stations and on board trains.
It has been used in the SNCF app, and even as basis of the branding of an online radio station SNCF La Radio. It has also been adapted and developed over the years to keep it fresh, because just as visual logos need refreshing, so does audio branding.
5 top Audio Branding tips
Take the long term view
The most famous and successful audio branding has become famous and successful by being used over time, so look beyond the next campaign and plan for the next five years…or more.
Having a distinctive audio identity is important. It will increase recall and improve brand salience. Research has found that the best performing brands use the most unique sonic property.*
Once you have an audio identity, use it consistently. And to make sure you do, have a set of audio brand guidelines.
People are going to hear your audio branding in several different ways and in different situations, so make sure you have versions of your audio branding to suit the platform, mood, occasion etc.
Since McDonalds first used Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Lovin’ It” in 2003, that well-known sonic has been whistled, rocked up, jazzed up, slowed down, speeded up, you name it. Because McDonalds know that an audio brand needs to evolve to keep it fresh.
In the new audio age, a ‘mute brand’ will be missing out. Hopefully we’ve helped to demystify audio branding and how to do it. If you have any questions or need help in creating an audio brand, please get in touch.
Contact us on 0203 370 4939, or email firstname.lastname@example.org