5 steps to creating your own sonic brand
Audio has become big business for advertisers with the boom in podcasts, music streaming and the dramatic rise in smart speakers. All this means a brand’s audio identity is becoming just as important as its visual identity.
How to create the perfect sonic branding
Global digital audio ad spend increased by a staggering 57.9% in 2021 and 20% in 2022, with further growth expected in 2023 according to the IAB. With cash flooding into the sector, brands are now fighting for ears not just eyes.
So what is sonic branding? Sonic branding (aka audio branding) is the strategic use of songs or sounds representing a product or brand that evoke a familiar association for consumers. In simpler terms, it is the unique sound or collection of sounds associated with a brand. In emotional terms, however, it is how you feel when you hear sounds associated with a brand. Comforted? Happy? Hungry? Excited? Thirsty? Motivated? A well-thought-out series of audio influences should elicit emotions and behaviors.
But how do you create one? Well, Roscoe Williamson, the global creative strategy and innovation director at MassiveMusic and Songtradr, has shared his five-point plan to create sonic branding.
1: Research and audit
Know your target audience – who are they, what are their tastes and what will resonate with them? Then, crucially, take time to understand what this audience thinks of you. Does your brand have sonic equity that can be built upon? Is sound being used to critically change the perception of your brand? This stage lays the groundwork, encapsulating where appropriate the use of music, sound and voice.
Recognizing technological and cultural trends in your industry is also essential as they open up opportunities for your future audio touchpoints. By doing all that, we can devise a strategic framework that outlines how your brand should interact with consumers through sound, music and voice.
2: Mood boarding, production and testing
It’s important to have a clear idea of the overall aesthetic of your audio strategy. Plucking an audio strategy out of thin air is never a wise move. Building your moodboard around your brand, your values and positioning should result in a refined sonic language and a clear idea of the audio palette – including music, sound and voice.
But don’t be afraid to test the waters! Trying out audio with real audiences is the only way to get an objective point of view on factors such as uniqueness, brand attribute alignment and recall.
Suggested newsletters for you
3: Development and engagement
Be familiar with the audio landscape. The amount of audible touchpoints available to consumers is ever-expanding. Be clear about where you want consumers to listen to the sound. Be open to creating a sonic identity that can flex across the expanding platforms. While there are an ever-growing number of ‘sound on’ or ‘sound first’ platforms, audio strategies can and should exist beyond these. Aside from the stalwart touch points such as digital, TV and radio, an audio strategy can (and should) show up in various forms, such as during events, at sponsorships, in-store or in product. Such a holistic approach helps create the fundamental threads that echo and reinforce your brand’s identity.
4: Internal and external deployment
Knowing how to deploy your new strategy is key. Too often a good audio strategy falls flat due to a lacking audio execution strategy. A comprehensive guideline for audio strategy should be considered a priority. These serve as a roadmap on how to effectively and consistently use your audio assets across various platforms and situations, ensuring consistency.
To guarantee smooth integration and adoption of the new audio strategy, it is imperative that everyone understands and aligns with the vision set out. This can be done through conducting onboarding workshops, which will aim to engage your team with the strategy, enabling them to implement it effectively and deploy it creatively.
And finally, during this phase designing the perfect PR and internal launch will not only catch the attention of the press and other industry leaders, but it will establish interest and engagement within your teams.
5: Review, iteration and amplification
The final ongoing phase revolves around reviewing, iterating and amplifying your audio strategy. Is the audio aiding in building your brand? Is it boosting the efficacy of your campaigns?
Based on the insights gathered, your audio strategy might need refining to accommodate new touchpoints, different content types and evolving customer preferences.
Amplifying the audio strategy can take multiple forms. Will an artist partnership enhance its impact? Should it be launched across a broader range of touchpoints?
Ultimately, one gets out of an audio strategy what one puts in. In order to broaden and amplify the impact of your brand and improve effectiveness in your communications, it is an ongoing process where the value comes from iterative refinement, creativity and focus.