Will Audio Branding be the Next Competitive Frontier in Marketing?

Sound is a very important element of sensory branding. But before we begin, listen to the sound in the below audio clip.

For anyone of my generation who has grown up in India, the above sound, though only about 1 second, can evoke an instant nostalgia of a train journey. Give it a try. That’s the power of audio branding. A more laid-back variation of the same sound can be heard below. We will discuss the different attributes of these sounds little later in the post. Right now, have a listen.

We remain inundated with visual advertising all the time creating a communication clutter, which is only exploding. The power of audio branding, also called sonic or sound branding, comes from our ability to memorise sounds easily, and associate events, characters, places or brands with them.

The legendary Walter Werzova created the sound that we so strongly associate with Intel.It has the confidence of a leader, dash of techno, is agile and has gravitas, all rolled into hardly 2 seconds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRLyMjvug1M

Here are some more audio marks, which have strongly created to the greater brand recall. Some of these, have changed over a period of time to be consistent with the contemporary branding requirements.

Automotive industry, particularly bikes, is a segment very distinctly identified with sound. But have we thought of why, for example, a Yamaha bike gives the Yamaha sound and a Harley has a specific sound signature? If fact, auto industry understood the power of audio branding much before others. They even spend huge money in a specialized branch of acoustics to develop those specific sounds that they think reflects their brand personality. And why not, if sound becomes a critical element in success or failure of a new model developed at huge cost. Check out this well compiled post on ‘The 12 Best Sounding Motorcycles of all Times’.   But it is not just the engine sound based branding that auto companies have invested in. A nice case study on European automaker Peugeot’s recent audio brand development activity is documented here.

Then there are engineering companies that help you get the desired sound for your vehicle. AVL, for one.

Is it fair to assume that audio branding tends to work only for the automotive industry? Banks, for example, can effectively use audio branding across multi-touch points – from music played on phone to branch to even ATMs. But there are some prerequisites that are required to be understood before embarking on audio branding. First, your audio logo is just like your visual logo – it reflects the personality of the brand and needs to convey the right attributes. And just like a professional logo development process, audio logo too costs time and money. I recommend you to read this excellent post on audio branding.

Going forward as we deal with more visual clutter, we will can expect brand managers to invest more creative energies in audio branding. In fact, we are at just the start of the competitive vroom.

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