You probably know that brand assets are the distinguishing characteristics of a brand that make them stand out and memorable, such as sound, colors, shapes, logos, characters, celebrities, and other scents/tastes.
But did you know that these non-verbal cues can make or break your brand’s profile in customers’ minds? A 2020 Ipsos analysis(1) of 2,000 ads explored the relationship between effectiveness and the presence or absence of brand assets. Leading the pack in supporting brand recognition was sound:
Here’s a remarkable statistic: ads with sonic branding cues performed eight times higher in recognition and brand association.
Shockingly, only 6% of the companies surveyed had a branded sound.
So, why is audio so undervalued as a vital branding tool? Why don’t brands invest more time and resources into actionable musical strategies?
The answer lies in the gap between perceived value and actual spending. While most marketers believe audio branding is important, their main concern is about measuring the value of their investment.
Here are some ways to boost your confidence in investing in audio assets and improve your brand’s “audio ROI.”
Make it measurable
Traditionally, it’s been challenging to apply predictive analytics to sonic marketing strategy because human decision-making is primarily unconscious.
Today things have changed. Thanks to advanced technologies and AI, there are now ways to quantify emotional responses to music and sound — allowing brands to better evaluate the value of their sonic marketing strategy.
A good example is Alyze, an AI-driven facial recognition program that detects and analyzes real-time emotional responses. Their technology uses a webcam to test people’s emotions and interest levels via audio and visual stimuli.
Another company, Veritonic, provides testing that helps brands understand and compare the overall value of a particular audio asset across various attributes, including:
- Emotional resonance
- Recall: Memorability
- Intent: Likeliness to purchase
- Engagement: Response to audio
These data platforms can help you test your brand’s sonic identity against its own key attributes and that of the competition to help you fine-tune a winning audio campaign.
Key decision-makers, agency partners, and brand managers often have diverse opinions, musical sensitivity, and goals. This leads to conflicting approaches to the use of audio assets.
By changing the way decisions about music are made and having a clear willingness to establish a consistent and identifiable auditory footprint, brands can stand out, be distinctive, and improve their customer experience.
Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Campaign effectiveness is best assessed by a clear set of KPIs for audio initiatives and expenditures. Plus, audio-related KPIs can help further integrate music and sound into the brand manager’s scope of work.
When establishing KPIs for your audio strategy, here are some helpful questions:
- What’s the objective of using a particular piece of music in a campaign? (i.e., higher customer engagement, better retention)
- Are there particular cost savings you’re hoping to achieve short/long term?
- How can audio help communicate your brand’s meaning and values?
By articulating goals and spelling out actionable impacts, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how effective your audio branding efforts are — and an opportunity to keep using audio to improve your customer experience (CX).
Benefits of customized sound
Custom music is often associated with a high cost — this is one of the persistent myths of audio branding. A bespoke solution is not only unique, but it’s also often a more economical option.
Licensed music is any musical piece that has been created for entertainment purposes rather than for branding. The associated cost varies wildly from $50 to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the brand’s notoriety and the music usage. Indeed, both the term and usage conditions can significantly increase the cost (i.e., one-year license vs. in perpetuity; single-use vs. unlimited).
Beyond the actual fee to use the music, there’s an opportunity cost as well. In a world of intense competition, it’s critical to take every opportunity to differentiate your brand from others. Just like stock imagery gives a brand a generic look, licensed sounds and music can make your brand fade into a sea of similar-sounding businesses.
On the other hand, a custom composition combines unique tones, beats, and notes to express the brand’s ethos, values, and culture. This activates the most lasting sensory experience: hearing. Creating a consistent audio experience across all customer touchpoints makes for a more pleasant, connected, and engaging interaction.
Beyond the intrinsic value of having an exclusive, distinctive sonic footprint, the brand also owns its custom auditory elements. By trademarking or copyrighting them, you can earn royalties when your music is performed or streamed.
Are you ready to make your brand sing?
The Age of Audio is already upon us, and countless brands are actively participating – creating and experimenting with content, spending billions of advertising dollars, and educating themselves on the latest sonic trends and case studies.
New technology creates fresh sonic touchpoints faster than you can imagine, so now’s the time to start using audio to increase customer engagement, attention, and retention.
To achieve the heights possible with sonic branding, you need a partner who can help you articulate the complex and layered emotional messaging necessary to make a lasting impression.
Music production houses are not audio branding experts.
More and more, companies are working in concert with audio strategists to translate the abstract qualities of a company’s attributes into results-driving marketing strategy.
Choosing the right sound and developing a centralized musical ecosystem for your brand builds equity and helps maximize audio investment returns.
If you’re curious about what sonic branding can do for your brand, let us know! We offer a free audio audit and are happy to answer your questions.
(2) Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. “Decision-making May Be Surprisingly Unconscious Activity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2008.