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Audio Branding: My Brand Needs a Voice Now?

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Just when you think you have got this marketing thing all figured out, in waltzes audio branding. Although it’s not really a new thing at all.

It may seem hard to keep up. Presumably, you got into whatever business you are in because you were following your passion. As you’ve had your head down, making things happen, the whole marketing landscape continues to expand and change. Every time you take your eye off of your product, up pops new-fangled marketing to harness. 

Undoubtedly, social media accounts have to be on point and on time. Your logo and webpage require modernizing. Webpages need to be mobile-friendly with a constant stream of intriguing and compelling content. And now you are asking yourself, “I’ve just gotten a handle on my branding, and now I need audio branding?” The answer is yes. However, it might be easier than you think to develop your audio branding. Most likely, you are already part of the way there. 

This post has been updated August 2021

What is audio branding anyway?

Audio branding has a few components that come together to make up the sound of your brand. If you have already established your brand message, it should be a relatively short leap to your brand sound. In essence, what you are looking for in audio branding is a cohesive system of sounds that quickly identifies and expresses your brand’s message and values in all encounters. Whether that be, advertisements, podcasts, social media videos, retail spaces, or individual products. There are several steps to landing on the appropriate sound for your business. 

For starters here are a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Is your product serious and all business?
  • Does your company feel more suit and tie or flip flops and boardshorts?
  • What’s your target market make-up, party-goers, or political party people?
  • What frame of mind are your customers in when they purchase or use your product?
  • What feeling are you hoping to strike in your audience?
  • Are you hoping to express what your business is today or what you are hoping for it to become?
  • Does your business already have an identifiable audio cue that can or should be built upon?

Whichever the case, if you know your brand’s market, building an association between your brand and a particular sound and voice should be simple. You aren’t going to have a teenage girl from the Valley pitching your 55+ gated community real estate opportunities. Or a Jordan Belfort-Esque character selling your cupcake of the month online store, right?

Think of some nationally recognized brands that you can identify without hearing any voice or seeing any logo. Who are they? What are they selling? Who is their market? How has their simple, short, but memorable audio signature ingrained itself into popular culture? What do you hear when you read the words Law & Order, or Monday Night Football, or Nokia? Have you ever even considered the amount of strategy and planning that it took for a few musical notes to instantly trigger thoughts of a brand into the minds of millions of people?

Of course, those are examples of national brands with access to a huge audience. However, whatever the scale of your business, you can reach your audience, even if it is only in one city, and imprint on their minds a sound that they instantly identify with your business, service, or product. Your target market will set the parameters for all of your branding efforts and lead you to your audio identity. 

Audio-Branding-Two-Voice-Actors

Brands need audio identity now?

You may or may not know the name, Dennis Haysbert. You should. He is an accomplished television, film, broadway, and voice-over actor. He built a successful career in such notable television projects as Lou Grant, Growing Pains, A-Team, Magnum P.I., as well as a number of popular big-screen productions. If you don’t know his name, you would probably recognize his face, and you definitely know his voice. I didn’t know his name until five minutes ago when I Googled “Allstate guy.” Yes, Dennis Haysbert is the voice of Allstate Insurance. I didn’t know his name ten minutes ago, but I can hear his voice in my head without any effort. Why is that? 

That voice, the one belonging to an accomplished actor of stage and screen, the one we couldn’t put a name to ten minutes ago, represents audio identity perfection. It is the soothing voice that tells you that everything is going to be ok when you wreck your car, or your house gets flooded. It is the voice that tells you that when things go sideways in life, you can curl up in a ball, and Allstate will take care of everything. 

In the early 1950’s one of the insurance giant’s sales executives (think Mad Men) came up with the tagline “You’re In Good Hands, ” and shortly after, the company held a contest promising $50 to the employee offering the best logo design, and the iconic image of two cupped hands still represents the company almost 70 years later. The perfect logo + a timeless tagline + a voice that you want to wrap around yourself like a blanket = branding perfection. Moreover, with almost $40 billion in revenue last year, it may be working, despite whether Allstate’s brand creation is 100% accurate.

Cool Story. What’s it Gotta Do with Me?

So, that’s probably the question running through your mind. What does the audio branding of a multi-billion dollar corporation have to do with an entrepreneur and owner of a small business? Well, if you take a look at the Allstate example and many more that easily pop to mind, you must see how beneficial it would be to have your business identified by a particular sound or voice. Audio branding is a marketing trend on the rise. There is still time to get ahead of the curve.

As sonic smart technology, think Alexa, and ad-free music, television, and video streaming revolution powers ahead, it will become increasingly vital for brands to be identifiable at the speed of sound. It may sound like a daunting task right out of the gate. However, those that have gone before you on the journey of audio branding have paved the way leaving a trail of concrete dos and don’ts.

Audio-Branding-One-Voice-Actor

To Do or Not to Do?

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t treat your audio branding as secondary entertainment. Your sound should be the audio signature of your brand. I should fully reflect your mission, values, and product. Sure, it can be catchy, but you need to go deeper than just a cool sound. Impact without meaning can be distracting and counter-productive.
  2. Don’t rely solely on outsourced music production companies. While they may be necessary for final production, audio branding experts will help you to establish your audio DNA. An article published in the Harvard Business Review details how the French national railway developed a distinct audio DNA, then was able to adapt their signature sound for different applications.
  3. Don’t allow audio branding to be an afterthought. If you are just establishing your brand or rebranding, audio should be front and center, developing concurrently with other branding efforts.

The Dos

  1. Fully define your brand identity and mission. Only after you have detailed the message that your brand should send out into the world can you successfully marry it to a sound.
  2. Focus on consistency across all of the encounters that the public will have with your brand. Your audio branding should be recognizable wherever it is encountered, although adaptation will be necessary for particular encounters. Consider, when a potential customer calls United Airlines reservations and are on hold, the music has a more upbeat tempo than they would use with potentially anxious travelers sitting at an airport gate.
  3. Always know what your competition is doing. As will all of your branding efforts you need to separate yourself from the crowd and have an audio DNA that belongs only to you.

Where Do I Start???

The most important thing to understand as you set out to achieve audio branding greatness? It takes time. Getting into the nitty-gritty of your target market’s psychology and emotions is a tough task, but it is the key to developing a plan to sonically define your brand. Reflect again on the questions that were posed earlier in this article:

  • Is your product serious and all business?
  • Does your company feel more suit and tie or flip flops and boardshorts?
  • What’s your target market make-up, party-goers, or political party people?
  • What frame of mind are your customers in when they purchase or use your product?
  • What feeling are you hoping to strike in your audience?
  • Are you hoping to express what your business is today or what you are hoping for it to become?
  • Does your business already have an identifiable audio cue that can or should be built upon?

However, this brings us back to how much time you and your team can or are willing to spend on in-house branding and marketing. All you really want to do is move forward with your passion, right? Well, that is where creative outsourcing enters. Creative outsourcing, like that offered by Bunny Studio, allows you to, in essence, hire professional writers, graphic artists, voice-over artists, etc. These pros are as passionate about what they do as you are about what you do. You will have the final say about the final product, but you won’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do, know how to do, or have time to do.

 

Start your audio branding campaign today at Bunny Studio! 

  • This article was powered by Bunny Studio
  • and was written by EileenJ
  • If you want to hire this Bunny Pro, click here.
  • This article was powered by Bunny Studio
  • and was written by EileenJ
  • If you want to hire this Bunny Pro, click here.
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