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The essential elements of audio branding

Posted by Olivia Howlett - Head of Audio Branding at PHMG on

Just like developing a visual identity, audio branding is a fine art that demands careful consideration and real industry expertise. As a New Year begins – a year in which audio is set to become a more important part of a marketing strategy than ever before – we take a look at the five vital elements of audio branding, exploring why each is so important in creating your sound.

2017 really proved to be the year of audio, with listening and engagement habits on the rise in a number of different areas and platforms. 112 million Americans listened to a podcast last year (Forbes) – a figure which represents an 11% increase from 2016. Audiobook sales grew by 20% (Audio Publisher’s Association), while streaming continued to rise as revenue from the practice swelled by more than 60% (The Guardian). And with the widespread adoption of devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, we’re on track for 50% of all internet searches to be voice activated by 2020 (comScore). All these statistics illustrate that consumers are more receptive to audio than ever before – so companies everywhere should be working to incorporate sound into their brand identity.

There are five key elements to consider when beginning to develop an audio brand – voice, content, technology and – first and foremost – music. Just like a colour, font or logo, the right choice of track works to powerfully showcase identity – and has a truly mass appeal among an audience. And most remarkably, music inspires emotion like no other medium, meaning the connection inspired in the consumer is all the greater. When choosing the composition, it’s important to think not as a music fan, but as a business. While a certain track may be loved within the company, it could inspire a very different emotion in a varied customer base. Therefore, a far better practice is to have an exclusive piece developed custom to the business, with each part representing an aspect of the brand’s personality.

Equally valuable to music in the development of an audio brand is voice, with the qualities of the speaker revealing just as much about a business as the genre, tempo and instruments of a track. Masculine and feminine qualities, age, accent and style must all be carefully selected – clearly, a mature, booming male voice projects very different ideals to a perky, youthful female. And this voice can only be a valuable part of an audio brand if it’s saying the right things. Just as current marketing trends dictate, content is king – so a script must be penned in the perfect tone, and crafted to deliver company information in the most succinct, powerful way to be received and understood in the spoken medium.

Technology has played a hugely important role in the rise of audio, with the rise of smartphones, streaming services and podcast platforms aiding accessibility to increase consumption. And on top of this, it’s an equally important aspect of the modern audio brand. The highest levels of professionalism only comes with the slickest production values – which are achieved by the very latest editing tools, software and audio treatment techniques. And as various technologies have introduced audio to all manner of channels, companies can have a sound presence online, on TV or radio, or on the phone. These varied platforms bring us to the fifth and final pillar – marketing. It’s always important to see audio branding as part of the wider marketing strategy. A track or production’s use across multiple channels increases synergy, making the sound synonymous with the company. And as a complement to a business’ visuals, an audio brand creates a well-rounded identity that appeals to consumers in a multisensory way.

Music. Voice. Content. Technology. Marketing. The five elements of audio branding. Throughout 2018, our Sound Ideas posts will explore each of these elements in detail – so click here to subscribe, and receive industry-leading advice straight to your inbox.

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