Audio branding in action 

audio branding: explained


We’ve all heard one of our favourite songs used as part of a marketing campaign… recognised a certain voice in association with a particular brand (just think Jon Hamm and Mercedes Benz or Morgan Freeman and Visa)… and come to expect entertainment at the sound of the Netflix ‘ta-dum.’ All these are examples of audio branding – but what exactly is involved in this uniquely powerful type of marketing? And how does it really benefit a business? This article has all the answers, so read on to learn more about the power of sound.



  1. What is audio branding?
  2. Why should my business make use of sound?
  3. Why should I consider audio branding now?
  4. What are the elements of an audio brand?
  5. What are the key audio touchpoints for a consumer?
  6. Who can help me develop the sound of my brand?

what is audio branding?


Put simply, audio branding is the use of sound to define, reinforce and strengthen a company's identity. Music, voice artistry, copy and sonic logos all play their part in getting a business name heard, and companies can deploy one, all, or a combination of these elements in various auditory channels.

The most literal – and in turn, most recognisable – examples of audio branding are sonic logos: a short melody or sound effect that represents a brand in the same way a visual logo would. McDonald’s is perhaps the most famous of these, and their distinctive ‘I’m lovin it’ whistle is just as synonymous with the fast food giant as their golden arches are.



Netflix has also affirmed its earconic status with its instantly recognisable ‘Ta-Dum’. This distinct sound plays at the start of every show, and acts as an instant trigger in the mind of the viewer – they’re ready to relax with some quality entertainment. The streaming giant has also partnered with celebrated composer Hans Zimmer to create a version of the sonic logo especially for cinema, demonstrating how these unique sonic snippets can be adapted for various uses, channels and formats. Read more here.


Financial giant Mastercard has also invested heavily in defining their sound, dropping their name from the logo at the same time as introducing their unique ‘Mastercard Melody.’ This chirpy collection of notes appears not just in marketing channels, but whenever a transaction is processed through a card reader or the app – indicating that a payment has been made reliably and safely.


While these examples may be some of the most famous, they’re not the only ways companies can use sound to affirm their identity. Whenever a company uses music or spoken word as part of a customer experience, they’re practicing audio branding – whether this be online, over the phone, in a podcast, at an event, in a store, or within any other auditory channel. The scope is huge, and when sound is used in this way, it’s proven to be highly beneficial to a business.


why should my business
make use of sound?


Companies have long lived in a predominantly visual world. Branding considerations or spend has historically been devoted to what we can see – logos, colours, fonts, print and billboard adverts, websites and all those other elements that appeal to the eye.

But this isn’t enough to make a business stand out. Consumers are bombarded by images, so much so that the visual messages we scroll through, watch on our screens or see in the cities around us barely register. It takes something else to cut through this noise – and this is where audio comes in.

Our connection with sound begins while we’re still in the womb, and it remains a core sensory and semantic cue throughout our entire lives. The things we hear cement themselves in our brain much faster and more firmly that those delivered through the visual counterpart, so it’s no surprise that audio is proven to enhance customer receptivity:
Spotify audio ads quote
Coupled with this remarkable responsiveness is audio’s accessibility. Unlike video or other visual media, we don’t have to stop to consume it – which is why 79% of consumption takes place while we’re engaged in other tasks. Sound reaches us where images cannot, weaving its way around our daily activities to become an essential part of our lives.


music to marketing ears:


Audio encompasses many aspects, but it’s music that most often springs to mind – and forges the strongest connection in our brain. The link between music and experiences is neurological, meaning there’s a scientific reason why hearing the chorus of a certain song instantly triggers memories of a certain place or time, and all the emotions that came with it. This is a powerful phenomenon, and when brands capitalise on this, it becomes powerfully lucrative.

Ipsos Global Database Survey Results

Used effectively, musical marketing inspires emotion, drives purchase intent and tells the story of the brand – making it a vital consideration in a company’s identity and marketing activity.

Learn more about why music is so valuable to the modern business:



why should I consider
audio branding now?


We’re living in the age of audio. Whether it’s a podcast on the morning commute, a powerful playlist to get us pumped up for the gym, or a query answered by Alexa as we cook up our evening meal, we’re consuming, adopting and interacting with sound more than ever before – meaning there’s never been a better time for businesses to make themselves heard.




always listening:


Audio streaming is nothing new, but it’s reached it’s most prolific peak to date. Spotify currently has more than 286 million monthly active users – 130 million of which pay for a premium account – and has seen consistent year-on-year growth since 2015. More people than ever are creating the soundtrack to their lives, and using music to influence their moods – wherever they are, and whatever they’re doing. With 60% of people’s streaming done on mobile, headphones are no longer an accessory, but an essential. And these big figures add up to lucrative opportunities:

audio branding statistics for businesses

A channel devoted to the spoken word, podcasts offer unrivalled levels of intimacy and engagement – listeners feel like they’re directly involved with the conversation they’re tuning into. More stories are being told by this medium than ever before, and with Spotify’s recent multimillion-dollar podcast investment, this creation and consumption is only set to rise. For brands, this introduces an opportunity to tell their own story, or align themselves with existing ones – cultivating authentic messages that feel much more natural.

look who’s talking:


Consumers aren’t just listening – they’re using their voices too. Much like streaming, the adoption of voice activation technology is firmly on the up, which is changing the way we search.

  • 87.7 million US adults are using smart speakers, up from 32% in 2019. (Voicebot)
  • 1 in 5 UK homes own a smart speaker.
  • As of this year, half of all searches are being done by voice.
We’re all getting used to speaking to the technology around us, especially in our homes. And as consumers converse with their devices, it means brands can start to have direct conversations with their customers too – exchanges that lead directly to sales.

voice search shopping $40bn industry

What all these statistics really mean is that there’s never been a better time for businesses to develop their sound. There are more audio opportunities, more engagement potential, and an audience that’s never been more receptive to what they hear – all you have to do is speak up.


what are the elements
of an audio brand?


While audio branding can take many forms, it typically involves three key elements: copy, voice and music.


audio branding penned for the ear

Every brand has a message to convey, and this is most often delivered through the screen or page. But when these words are designed to be heard, certain considerations have to be made. Unlike a reader, a listener doesn’t have print in front of them to process in their own time – so copy must be created with brevity and conciseness for maximum comprehension. How the words sound when spoken out loud is also an important element, and many of the most famous straplines owe their success to their auditory qualities. Just think ‘Crackle and Pop’; ‘Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline’ or Jaguar’s ‘Grace, Space, Pace.’
Thanks to their onomatopoeia, alliteration and rhyme, they all roll straight off the tongue and into the ear – which is a significant part of what makes them so memorable. Nuances like these require expertise in writing for audio, which is why businesses should entrust this task to a specialist Copywriter.

audio branding speaking out

Male or female… old or young… authoritative or conversational… the qualities of a company’s personality are inherent in the way they speak to their consumers. Therefore, it’s essential that the word of a brand is spoken by a voice artist who isn’t just professional, but delivers with the tone and style that’s wholly representative of their identity.
As the previous statistics show, the use of voice activation technology is at an all-time high – which means there’s never been a more important time for businesses to invest in voice as a brand asset. Developments in this area open up the choice of assistant from Alexa, Siri or Hey Google to something altogether more representative of the business. When there’s a chance to have a direct conversation with the consumer, it’s vital to know which voice will do the talking.

making audio branding music for your business

Music’s power over our memories and emotions make it a no-brainer for branding purposes – and when these are positive, it’s a brilliant reflection on the business. But what if it’s not? For every song that stirs memories of first loves or ultimate highs, there’s an equivalent for a bad break-up or a low you’d rather forget, and this is something a company has no control over. With one play of the ‘wrong’ track, a business is forever negatively interlinked in the mind of the consumer, which is potentially damaging to the future relationship.

Far more effective is to develop a track exclusive to the business. Commercial composers have the unique ability to distil a company’s identity into a piece of music, crafting every note, beat and melody to capture what makes them unique. Always fresh to the ear, this composition carries no preconceptions – making it a blank canvas for a company to build strong associations. With every play, it’ll become more synonymous with a first-class product or service, ultimately creating a powerfully positive sonic trigger.



what are the key
audio touchpoints for a consumer?


As a result of the audio boom, there have never been more opportunities for companies to make their name heard. Some of the most common audio touchpoints are:

The key audio touchpoints for a consumer

The last example on this list is one of the most essential audio touchpoints, but one that is often overlooked by a business.



talking telephones:


Consumers have a wealth of options when getting in touch with a business – but the telephone endures thanks to its unrivalled immediacy, intimacy and humanity.

 

65% of people prefer to contact a business by phone call
75% of consumers believe that phone calls get them quicker responses


While a lot of companies will never create a Spotify advert or an Alexa skill, almost every business has a telephone. The caller journey customers experience holds many opportunities for a company to not just communicate with the consumer, but reinforce their brand identity.

the best first impression:
Before a customer is even connected, there’s a chance to make an impact with audio branding. The start of a call is the perfect place to set the tone with a distinct sonic logo – while an Auto Attendant delivers the best welcome, along with a list of departmental options to choose from.

travelling in style:
As a caller is connected or placed on-hold, this time can be maximised with an audio branding production. Script, voice and music unite to communicate, connect and engage with the listener – strengthening business identity in three distinct ways.

reaching the destination:
Ideally, a customer will complete their caller journey by having their query resolved by a representative – but this isn’t always possible. When a business is closed, an Out-of-Hours production provides alternative contact details to ensure a customer can always get in touch. And if an individual or department isn’t available, Business Voicemail productions advise callers in the most professional way – again informing of other means of contact. Often, messages like these are left to system pre-sets, self-voiced, or simply forgotten about – meaning companies are missing a valuable opportunity. When audio branding is applied to the caller experience, businesses create a new way to enhance professionalism, open channels of communication, and assert their sound identity.


who can help me
with
my audio branding?



If you’d like to embrace the benefits of audio branding, there are a number of companies who can support you with this – including world-leading agency, PHMG. Specialists in maximising the brand power of the telephone, we help businesses across the globe unlock the potential of this audio touchpoint with creative, technology fuelled solutions. Our inspiring audio productions are the work of the industry’s most talented Copywriters, Composers, Voice Artists and Producers – comprising a captivating script, exclusive Brand-Sound-Track™ and vocal artistry that capture exactly what makes a company unique.

Our dedicated consultants are available to help you develop a complete sonic strategy for your business. Give us a call on 0808 231 5730, and we’ll take the first steps towards creating a sound that makes your brand sing.