By Colleen Fahey
When it comes to sonic branding, the most challenging task is creating the brand’s audio DNA, the distinctive vocabulary of sounds that inform all of its many applications. An audio branding system can underscore the attributes expressed by your visual branding system or complement those attributes, providing further meaning.
Like anything else, sonic branding comes with its own set of dos and don’ts to be aware of before setting out to create your own audio identity. In part one of our do’s and don’ts guide, I’ve listed six steps to take to ensure your sonic branding success:
- Begin from within: define your brand essence. Much as a geneticist does, the process of defining your brand’s DNA requires a willingness to probe its structure, and tease out those distinguishing qualities and identifiers that make it unique. In partnership with your audio branding strategist, you will answer a number of key questions. What does the brand stand for? How does your brand differentiate itself in ways that are interesting to your customers? How are your competitors differentiating themselves? What sounds characterize them? The better the combined team is able to answer these questions at the outset, the more your brand’s resulting audio identity will ring true with your customers and set you apart from your competitors.
- Identify your audience. Once you know who you are, what you stand for and what you want to convey, knowing who you’re talking to is the next step to developing a sonic branding strategy. Having robust data and ethnographic insights helps your team to fully understand your audience’s wants, needs, nuances, and most importantly, their behaviors.
- Identify your brand’s touchpoints so each serves to enhance customer relationships. A brand’s touchpoints aren’t limited to advertising. Nor are touchpoints the domain of business-to-consumer marketing alone. In fact, business-to-business brands have dozens of opportunities to use sonic branding to tell their story: logo animation, the sound your app makes when a customer opens it on her phone, the chime ringing when she enters your offices, the hold music she hears when she’s on the phone with customer service. Audio branding touchpoints are present at the ATM, walking the carpet of an exposition, or in the intro and outro of a YouTube or instructional video. They can occur as a credit card is swiped at the gas pump, a QR code is scanned from a flyer, or an ignition button is pushed.
- Get educated. Do you have a full understanding of what sonic branding can do, or are you trying to chase a catchy jingle? Knowing how that sung tune differs from a sonic logo or sonic identity system is vital to helping you identify the needs of your brand.
- Make it cohesive: get your team on board. Engage the people from branding, marketing and your most trusted agency in the process of designing the sonic brand. Once you’ve identified your brand’s touchpoints and have created its unique audio DNA and logo, this team will be part of the success of establishing it within the organization. With an established brand identity, groups accustomed to making or guiding music choices now have a powerful go-to resource. Armed with this audio identity system, your teams will stand positioned to underscore the role of the brand in their customers’ lives, no matter where those customers are located.
- Be patient. The process of sonic branding benefits from longevity and consistency. Take the time at the beginning to determine what your brand stands for and the experience it evokes. Ensure the identity is communicated at every possible touch point, and is part and parcel of your team’s comprehensive marketing strategy. With a thoughtful sonic identity, consistency, and flexibility to adapt as needed, the right music and sound will help your brand flourish over time.