As marketers, we are constantly seeking the new edge to outsmart the competition, remain relevant and engage with target audiences. It is no secret that the landscapes marketers operate in today are more competitive than ever before; the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, to eight seconds today with literally thousands of brands in the digital space all vying for a slice of the pie. So, without constant innovation and improvement, the odds for marketing success are not always stacked in our favour. To win, we must be on the constant search for new ways to reach and engage our target audiences.
For marketers the most common way to recall a brand is by visualising logos, remembering marketing campaigns or even specific colours of a brand. However, a brand is more than just the way it looks. Sonic branding is about communicating your marketing messages through the power of sound. It’s about making sure your organisation is heard, rather than just seen.
Thankfully, there are still untapped resources out there. Sonic branding – also referred to as audio branding – is one such example. In short, sonic branding is the practice of using audio and sound in a brand matrix to create instant recognisability. This is known in the business as a sonic identity. It is often overlooked by B2B and B2C brands in favour of visual or text-based branding despite research showing that sonic is more memorable to consumers than visuals.
The reasons for sonics’ effectiveness are remarkably simple. Audio based communication is essentially the original marketing channel. Storytelling and word of mouth has existed long before the invention of the printing press, or indeed written language itself. Sonic taps into the human experience of communication creating stronger bonds between brand, product and audience. We know that consumers of audio are loyal and engaged. One survey found that 60 percent of surveyed podcast listeners say they bought something after hearing it advertised on a podcast.
A Growing Landscape
The sheer scale and growth of the sonic and audio marketing landscape is not to be ignored. Spotify and Apple Podcasts have a combined 590,000,000 global listeners. Deloitte Global has calculated the market for smart speakers and integrated digital voice assistants at $7 billion. Even social media companies are getting involved. Following the early success of audio only social app Clubhouse, Twitter is rolling out ‘Spaces’, Facebook is creating its own audio app and Instagram launched Live Rooms this year. We know that consumers don’t just buy a brand – they consume the ideas behind the brand. Audio platforms are valuable tools for fostering interactive, personable, and memorable brand experiences beyond product and commerce.
Sonic is Versatile
Nonetheless, it’s important not to think of audio as a standalone marketing channel. What’s so exciting is that sonic is channel agnostic, so it is easily integrated into an existing brand matrix to amplify meaning, create engagement, grab attention & trigger brand recall. A sonic brand isn’t just useful for podcasts, Clubhouse, or radio, although these are still highly effective channels. Rather, it is a powerful means of boosting brand identity in any content stream that utilises sound. Whether it be traditional advertising, video content, podcasts, VR, social content or digital, a strong sonic identity is the glue that binds your brand to your multimedia content and ensures you are heard and remembered.
Whether you want to build out your own sonic identity and sonic logo or explore new audio channels to add to your marketing mix, like podcasts or audio advertising, it all starts with insight. A successful sonic brand campaign requires a deep understanding of your brand identity combined with data-led insights that help to identify key customer, product and cultural insights.
Start with an audit of your brand and competitor landscape. Once you’ve got the facts, let your creative side take over. Put together a sonic mood board and discuss ideas on the overall treatment and campaign plan. This will help ensure you stay on track during the actual identity development, composition, and production phase.
Keep in mind that sonic should be integrated with all other elements of your marketing campaign. Sound can elevate your campaign by invoking emotions, increasing brand recall and tying all of your campaign elements together.