Do You Know What Your Brand Sounds Like?

December 06, 2018 / MASTER SIMPLICITY

Do You Know What Your Brand Sounds Like?

December 06, 2018

Dave Alder President Media and Entertainment, Bulldog Drummond

Dave plays a key role in uncovering consumer insights and working to bring a very clear customer point of view to every project. He is a brand veteran with 21 years of experience at the senior executive level within the Virgin Group of companies and held the position of Chief Marketing Officer of Virgin's entertainment division for his last seven years with them. 

Have you ever thought about how you sound? As individuals, it’s a huge part of our make up and level of attractiveness. People are more likely to elicit an emotional response by reacting to sound versus visuals. Whether it’s our accent, level of audibility, mumbling tendencies or tone, voices play a huge part in defining each and every one of us. Yet when folks walk into a meeting or head out for a social evening, they are much more concerned with their appearances. Not surprisingly, people collectively spend billions of dollars on their looks, yet virtually nothing on how they sound.

But the power of voice is undeniable and helps to make us individuals. While some may choose to wear the exact same outfit as their neighbor, their sounds are never the same. Just as sound plays a role in defining people’s personalities, it does the same for brands. Ninety percent of B2C CMOs say they believe that sound can strengthen their brands. Most of them are referring to music and tone of voice in social media video or commercials. But, they’re leaving a lot on the table.

Harley Davidson is a great example of a brand that uses audio to differentiate. It consciously designs product audio, as heard in the distinctive roar of its bike engines. You don’t have to be a biker to recognize a Harley’s engine when it’s in earshot but out of view. It’s one of the most defining of the brand’s associations. It helps to separate it from the pack.

BMW is another brand that uses product sound. Perhaps not as defining as Harley Davidson, the manufacturer’s exhaust system is tuned to a note of confidence, calm and unstated power. It’s a precision sound for a precision brand. BMW even takes time to ensure the sounds of its car doors are distinct when being closed.

I recently sat in a fast food restaurant surrounded by all types of sounds—from the chatter of families with kids loudly slurping soda through straws, to the hiss of cooking and the horrendously overpowering soda dispenser’s cooling fan. Somewhere in the cacophony was the sound of Beyoncé belting out “Crazy”. But while the song and playlist from which it came may have been carefully selected to appeal to the customer demo (although probably unlikely), the restaurant experience was not defined by the music. It was defined by a horrific imbalance of audio. The overall impact of the combined sounds had not been considered, and one had to presume the same applied to the company’s other 1,200 restaurants across the nation. It was an afterthought. Imagine if this huge chain actually stopped to actively think about how to blend the combined sounds in its restaurants. It could be very powerful.

Every brand has a sound, but does it add to its allure or does it impact it negatively? Think about this. Why would a brand spend money and time ensuring creative visuals are on brand but not a second thought about sound? Sound shouldn’t be ignored. The audience is always listening.

Some Uncommon Sense Learnings

  • It’s proven that sound is a more powerful than visual expression
  • Audio has a more immediate emotional impact on the consumer
  • The right mix of audio can increase the understanding of what a brand stands for
  • While music can play a significant role in branding, it should not be the only audio component
  • Brands need to have full awareness of the sounds they emanate and harness them effectively to help define their unique personalities

 

Read more from Dave.

Dave Alder President Media and Entertainment, Bulldog Drummond

Dave plays a key role in uncovering consumer insights and working to bring a very clear customer point of view to every project. He is a brand veteran with 21 years of experience at the senior executive level within the Virgin Group of companies and held the position of Chief Marketing Officer of Virgin's entertainment division for his last seven years with them. 

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