Almost all brands have their own visual identity but as digital media and the use of smartphones approaches critical mass it is now necessary for brands to also have an audio identity.
So far some of the world’s largest organizations have invested in the process known as audio branding. Not to worry if you are a small or medium sized company because you can still tap into the powers of audio branding too.
It is important to realize that the power of music and sound today means that it now also carries message. Like the warning chime your computer makes or the bird chirp sound at a crosswalk many sounds today are being used as signals. For the marketer to be an effective communicator it is vital that everyone understand the message that music creates.
Today I want to show you what goes into building an audio identity. In doing so I hope this will help you build a better audio brand for your organization.
Identify Your Brand
The first part of any corporate branding process it to identify the brand and its values.
This step will help to identify the message that your brand wants to project. It will usually take the form of a workshop with the key brand guardians. Anytime a founder can be involved in this part of the process is advantageous. The goal is to discover what your brand is and what it wants to be.
To further identify a brand you must also complete an audit of your brand’s past and an audit of your brand’s competitors.
When looking to the past of your organization you want to look for any previous uses of audio. Be sure to check all potential customer touchpoints. Examples could be a radio or TV commercial, a corporate YouTube video, product demo or training DVDs, on hold messages and audio used in store. If you are a brand new company than you will not have to spend much time on this, however, if you are an older company be careful not to forget about the past completely. You may miss a potential gold mine.
Now you’ll need to take a look at what your competition is/has done. This will give you a good barometer of where to start implementing your audio identity. Have a listen to their radio ads. Put a caller on their lines to see how they sound. They may not have much, but this would be a good thing for you since it will help differentiate you.
By identifying the core values of an organization a sound consultants can create sonic messaging that will communicate the identity of a brand not just random noise.
Create the Audio Identity
As a composer and sound consultant this is my favorite part about creating an audio identity.
To create the sound a good music composer will use their knowledge of sound to create a message that will identify your brand. A typical audio brand will start with an audio logo, which is something that has made Intel famous. Audio logos are short sound files created strictly to identify a brand usually at the end of a mass media advertisement.
Other audio assets that are normally created for a brand are on hold music, radio and TV advertisements, in store audio, way-finding signals (like a purchase sound or cross walk sound), selecting a brand voice (male/female, old/young) and developing a sonic style guide.
The sonic style guide or FakeBook as we call them at TreBrand is a guide that explains the usage of sound within the context of a brand. It will show the notation for an audio logo, sounds/instruments that a brand should use, style of music appropriate for a brand and how any audio assets should be implemented. Most designers would liken this to the visual style guide.
Of course all of this supersedes the actual composing of music. In general the music and sounds will be created before the style guide is produced. In most cases the audio style guide is the last part of the equation. It allows a brand to stay consistent into the future.
Implement the Audio Identity
Last but not least is the actual implementation of the audio brand.
Based on the research you have completed earlier you will have a good idea what mediums you will need music and sound. This stage gives you the opportunity to plan that implementation.
Once you have selected the final resting places for your audio you should have a sound engineer professionally prepare the audio assets for that medium. This step will usually be completed as part of the creation process but it is a crucial step so ensure it has been done.
Well, there you have it. How to create an audio brand in 700 or so words. Certainly only touches the surface of what is involved, but I think it will help you to create a sound that your audience will want to buy from.