Many companies make the mistake of assuming a brand is simply a logo, a type of font or a use of a certain color palette. But successful brands know that consumers also experience a brand through sound.
Take McDonald’s or NBC. Both use visuals extremely well through the restaurant’s golden arches or the TV network’s iconic peacock. But these companies also realize that their logo is just one part of their overall brand strategy. They know the value of employing other tactics, including sound – McDonald’s uses the "I’m Lovin’ It" jingle, NBC uses the distinctive three note chimes (G3-E4-C4.) Hearing these elements will immediately conjure the associated brand, even without seeing the logo.
And in case you haven’t heard, the retention rate of hearing about a product or service is twice that of reading about that same product or service (source: National Training Laboratory Institute for Applied Behavioral Science.) Sound summons emotion, strengthening your customer’s connection to your brand.
It’s essential to use quality, originality and consistency to build your brand’s sound.
Quality – professional voiceover talent, the right music and/or sound effects design work together to convey the pride you have in your business and present you in best possible light. To achieve a quality sound branding experience, hire an audio production house for the job. The small amount of extra money you spend doing this right is an investment in your brand’s success.
Originality – the "Got Milk?" branding message has been copied repeatedly; got beans, got bugs, etc. The trouble with this approach is that a copy of a successful campaign always rings hollow with customers and prospects, and reflects poorly on your business. Your brand is a distillation of your business’ essence. Using an original concept is what will reinforce that. Originality is expressed in the concept behind a radio spot or the topics of a podcast or use of environmental sound at point of purchase.
Consistency – by using the same elements time after time, you’re building recognition in the listener’s mind. It becomes instinctive. When CNN started using James Earl Jones ("This…is CNN") it established sound branding for them. The key factor was that CNN aired it every hour for years – using Jones exclusively. James Earl’s authoritative voice made CNN an authoritative voice in news.
Determining the sound of your brand will take some extra work, but it can be fun. Is your brand edgy? Funny? Exciting? Are you an expert or a friend? Aggressive or laid back? No wrong answers here, just the right sound for your brand. By matching the tone of your business with the sound you choose, your message will be more authentic and your customers will notice the difference sound branding makes.
Glenn Buercklin is the author of this opinion-editorial. He owns Starfield Audio Design, a Little Rock based production company. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.