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Audio branding – so what is it?

We talk a lot about our branding identity, image and personality, but we don’t really hear (get it?!) much about brand audible guidelines. Typically missed out of the standard brand guidelines, audio (or acoustic or sonic or sound) branding goes much deeper than your tone of voice. 

This includes every audible association with your brand, from app noises to the language and accents used in your commercials, your audio branding is as important as your visual brand image.

Music

The ability to create strong emotional reactions, through sound and music, in customers is an element that many famous commercials and marketing materials have relied upon – think of any John Lewis Christmas advert. Music can also be memorable and effective in developing the tone of your brand. 

Choosing your soundtrack is important, whether it’s for your website or app, or for a physical space, you need to ensure that it’s relevant to your audience and your brand image.

Some brands still opt to use a jingle on their commercial assets. A jingle won’t work for every brand because they are considered a little dated now, but often those with a brand history that includes a jingle will be more likely to survive. Other newer brands have opted for audio tags instead which are slightly more modernised versions of jingles.

If your app includes custom sound, this could be anything from in-app music to notification noises, you need to ensure these are unique and purposeful. If your app is going to play continuous music, often seen within game apps, you need to make sure that it aligns with the theme of the app (cheerful, happy, spooky, against the clock) and is on-brand, i.e. designed specifically for purposes. 

Accents

Some brands choose to use particular regional or global accents to represent their brand, which sometimes also comes hand in hand with a brand mascot. Others may be more selective about the language they use such as slang and regional dialects which may be inspired by the personality of the brand.

Moreover, some accents are considered more friendly and approachable than others. For example, some brands choose to use a Yorkshire accent in their commercials, as this is considered trustworthy and honest. It’s also likely grown in popularity due to the likes of Game of Thrones, which features the ‘Northern’ families sporting Yorkshire regional accents. So considering the current popular tv shows could help increase the appeal of your brand.

Environmental

The audio used in the workplace, communal office areas or public areas such as shops, should reflect the brand personality. If your company is corporate, then you probably want to use generic music within the physical space, or none at all if that’s preferable.

However, more creative spaces might give employees control over the music playing in the working spaces which reflects their interests and personalities.

Equally, choosing music or sounds to use within presentations or company video should reflect the seriousness and topic of what is being presented. For example, if the video is a product review, you often need quiet and lighthearted music to accompany the voice over. It’s all about understanding the topic and aligning the sound with this.

Finding your sound

If you’re unsure of how to build your audio branding it’s advisable to look at what your competitors or others in your industry space are doing. It’s also a good idea to list your favourite brands and take a look at how they use sounds across the scope of their channels, including social media, website, app or in physical spaces.

For more information on developing audio branding for your company guidelines, get in touch with us today.


Also published on Medium.

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