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What is audio branding?

The combination of music and audio advertising will, for many, evoke thoughts of catchy jingles heard on the radio while a paranoid few might picture a personified monster of unwanted subliminal messaging. The truth is, music in many forms has been used for centuries to evoke emotional responses from unassuming listeners.

Whether it’s Ed Sheeran, Hollywood, or even retail brands like Tesco that capitalise on the power of music, there is no question that its influence is one worth investing in. So, what is audio branding really all about? Is purchaser persuasion the name of the game, or is it simply used to help make brands appear more human to consumers?

The answer is; both. Audio branding uses audible tools within a framework of communication to convey specific marketing messages. It’s an element that should form part of your wider marketing strategy to make your brand easily identifiable through sound. If you are really successful in your endeavour, your brand can become synonymous with certain sounds or words. Just hearing the words “I’m loving it”, is enough to make most people crave McNuggets. This is a classic example of just how influential audio branding can be.

So why do businesses use audio branding?

You might never be as successful as McDonalds, but there is something to be said for creating a unique sound, or voice that represents your company’s identity and values in a distinctive way that sets it apart in your local area or amongst your target audience.

Though many companies often overlook the benefits of audio branding, opting to direct their budget towards visual branding instead, those that do invest in audio will reap the rewards as the emergence of new media such as podcasts, streaming platforms and audio-based tech such as Alexa’s expand opportunities in this sector.

A company’s identity is created through a series of abstract facets, values, and associations that help them stand out from the sea of competitors. The rise of new audio channels and streaming platforms has forced many companies to rethink their brand awareness strategy. In order to reach people where they spend the most time, companies will have to venture into perhaps, unfamiliar territory in order to run a multi-sensory campaign.

What purpose does branded music play in audio branding?

We all know that music has the power to evoke and enhance an emotional response. It is used time and time again in on-screen entertainment to create powerful, emotive moments which keep us on the edge of our seats.

It’s surely not surprising, then, that music has been proven to emotionalise and unify brand messaging, bringing your audio ads to life through carefully curated sounds. When crafting an audio ad the music should be specifically chosen that reflects your brand, to improve brand identification and association.

Branded music also helps to increase the recall of your audio advertising, so it’s important that you take the time necessary to find the right fit for your company’s persona.

By implementing a unique sound, jingle, or tag line in your audio ad, you’ll find brand association, recognition and recall will all improve.

During a study conducted in 2016 by Veritonic, the “Nationwide is on your side” jingle polled the highest for brand recall among other international brands such as Green Giant, Intel, T-mobile, and McDonalds for their branded audio ads. Its success is not surprising considering these audio ads have been running for over 50 years, making this jingle an audio branding classic.

Brands that use music in their audio ads that ALIGN WITH THE BRAND IDENTITY are 96% MORE LIKELY to be REMEMBERED by consumers, than the brands that use ‘unfit’ audio content or no music at all.

Leicester University (2008)

Sound through music, rhyme, and melody create strong connection points in our brain which help us to recall information at a later point as well as connect to that information on an emotional level. For this reason, branded music in brand communication goes beyond one off projects, jingles, and catchy audio content. Music should be specifically chosen to reflect the brand persona in order to make all levels of communication with consumers more appealing and effective.

Consistent and deliberately selected music can enhance brand messaging as well as change the tone and feel of your digital audio ads. Finding your brand voice and sound will enable your brand to become an advocate for ideas, lifestyles, and causes that enrich your company’s relationship with its customers, rather than cause your brand to appear desperate for attention.

Out of those who gave a definitive answer, 74 % of young adults believe that they develop a BETTER UNDERSTANDING of a company’s PERSONALITY through MUSIC.

PHMG (2019)

Audio branding through in-store radio

For any company to successfully convey a message it is important to connect audio advertising with other visual stimulants creating a multi-touchpoint campaign that drives a single message home in listeners’ minds. A perfect example of how this might be done is to take the example of in-store radio which, if done well, connects prolonged audio advertising with visuals.

In-store radio is a great example of why it is important to have a complete and ever-evolving playlist that encapsulates your brand values and persona. This doesn’t just add to the atmosphere of the store but it enables customers to feel a kinship with your brand. Walking through that shop door, your customers should feel as though they have entered the home of your brand persona.

In this setting, companies have a unique opportunity to convey their audio advertising to listeners for as long as they remain in store so creating the perfect balance between programmatic audio ads and branded background music is essential.

While audio ads play over the sound system, visual cues that reflect the advertising should be present throughout the store. This could be something really bold, and playful like a video wall along one side of the store or more compact digital advertising signs that relay through visuals what listeners hear. You can even run digital ads at the kiosk that relate to your radio ads. All these audible and visual touchpoints help to convey your audio brand and sway customers to take advantage of the initiatives or offerings you promote.

MUSIC can INFLUENCE CUSTOMER BEHAVIOUR (slower music increased the sales at a supermarket chain in the US by 39.2%)

Krishnan, V., Kellaris, J.J., and Aurand, T.W. (2012). Sonic Logos: Can Sound Influence Willingness to Pay?

Studies have proven that sound had the ability to amplify visual brand messaging so make sure that wherever possible, you use both elements within your marketing strategy. Even something as simple as an audio logo – playing branded audio in sync with an animated logo – has the power to increase brand recall significantly so don’t miss out on opportunities to use branded sound wherever you can, in-store or online.

AUDIO ADVERTS are twice as likely to increase PURCHASE INTENT and INFORMATION INTENT than display ads

Spotify For Brands (2017) The Power of Audio, Chapter 2

But don’t forget, it’s not just your customer that will hear your branded background music and audio advertising, it’s also your workers. They can spend up to 8 hours at a time on the shop floor so it’s really important that your in-store advertising is varied, to prevent it from becoming repetitive and boring.

We know that music has the power to influence mood and even change our behavior and mindset so in order to keep staff on your shop floor upbeat and motivated it is really important that they are also able to take enjoyment from your background music playlists. This does not mean letting them request songs, but switching up the playlist now and then, and keeping it up to date will keep both customers and shop workers happy.

Some companies will even splash for presenter-led radio in their stores, which uses live radio presenters for a couple of hours each day to lead tailored discussions, personalise content and entertain shoppers and workers alike. The presenter will be specifically selected based on the demographics of your target audience as well as the brand identity of the company they’re voicing for.

However you chose to run your in-store radio, ensure that your content features both, tailored audio advertising and branded background music that reflects your brand persona. Keep it light, fun, inviting, and entertaining and you will be sure to succeed.

How to find your brand voice

If you are new to audio branding then we are here to help you find your voice. We have helped some of the world’s most respected brands develop, curate, and manage brand-specific music as part of their in-store radio playlist and audio advertising strategy.

The process begins with your brand. We familiarise ourselves with every aspect of your brand identity by reading the company’s brand guidelines, visiting its various locations, interviewing employees in a variety of roles, and analysing the company’s recent marketing campaigns to ensure all branding is applied consistently.

But it’s not all about your brand, it’s also about how your brand will be perceived by potential and current customers. To help you get a better understanding of your target market, thorough market research should be conducted to create customer personas that will help you find the right voice for your company. You might find that enlisting an audio branding agency with the expertise necessary to capture your brand in a single soundbite will take a lot of the pressure of this research off of your shoulders.

Audio specialists, like our team here at AVC, will also be able to compile a list of the genres, trends, and styles of music that align with your brand and customers’ taste to craft a unique sound for your business. By combining attributes, archetypes, and narratives of your core customers, our audio engineers and music experts are able to identify musical artists that reflect both your customers and brand. This scope becomes the foundation for the brand’s music approach, and serves as the North Star for programming, scheduling, and delivery requirements.

Should you need a little extra help in getting started, our team are always available to offer advice. Give us a call on 08456 301 635.

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