I was having a conversation with audio brand management expert Uli Reese, whom I must credit for conjuring this idea in my head. He was talking about the concept of sonic branding, which includes music selection in ads, sound piped into a retail environment, hold music for call centers, and more.
Sonic branding is an idea that applies now more than ever as we dive into a voice-activated, digitally connected, COVID-centric world.
While video calls are the norm, you cannot overlook the sound of your brand. Half a video experience depends on what you hear, not just what you see.
Think about when you used to go get a massage (something we could all probably use these days). You would anticipate a room with the soft, subtle sounds of nature and some easy-going music playing softly in the background.
What if they were blasting AC/DC? You might love AC/DC (I do), but it’s just not the sort of relaxing experience that would be consistent with getting a massage. The rock'n'roll experience is better for a different time and place.
Your audio identity is important, and you should spend time developing a point of view on what you want your customers and consumers to hear when they engage with your brand.
When they call into your call center for customer support, what do they hear?
When they are on your website and watching videos that detail how your products or services work, is there a consistent type of music or sound that reminds them of who you are? Does the music or sound serve to help calm them — or is it fast, atonal and creates a more chaotic feeling?
If they enter a retail environment, what experience and feeling are you looking to create there?
I immediately drift to music selection because music taps into different areas of your brain. It brings you to a specific place very quickly.
As I sit and write this column, wordless, “droning” music is playing in the background because it helps me to focus and block out the outside world. It allows me to follow a train of thought without getting lost. That kind of music would be horrible while getting a massage, but it can be great for writing or working out and exercising.
Music plays a role in your mood, and a brand needs to portray a mood to create a connection with customers.
In a day dominated by video, voice and sound, what you hear is as important as what you see and the full experience is greater than simply the sum of its parts. Are you thinking about the total customer experience?