Just do it! With this advertising slogan you know right away: that’s Nike talking to me. I’m lovin’ it. This is the short, catchy slogan of McDonald’s, but we can’t say this is its own voice. In these days of voice, however, this is increasingly drawing the attention of brand strategists. At least it should be.
Digital voice assistants are already used by 50 million people worldwide. This is according to a study by Voicebot.ai. This is a leap from one percent to almost 20 percent within just two years. Even the Internet took four years to reach so many people. “Companies now need to think about how they can enter into an effective dialog with their target group,” says Britta Heer, Managing Director Brand Marketing at the communications agency Edelman. At the core of these considerations is what tone and emotional character they have to achieve in order to captivate users right from the start and establish a conversation that offers real added value. But the voice itself that answers the user is currently either Siri’s or Alexa’s. “Technically, we simply don’t have that much choice,” says Heer.
Sound branding can be done using a company’s own sound logo. Many companies that advertise on the radio have already had a jingle created. But not all of them. For Heer, however, this is the first step that brands should take on the path to voice-based dialog. “Companies who want to be pioneers and forward-thinkers should therefore already devote attention to a sound logo.”
If nothing else because the media genre of radio has been given a boost thanks to smart speakers. According to the media analysis MA 2018 Audio II, almost every German from the age of 14 listens to a station regularly (95.2 percent). Podcasts are also gaining in importance for many companies.
But what should a brand sound like? Especially when it comes to products like baby diapers? Martin Geißler is one person who is giving this matter some thought. As an audio producer his customers include Deutsche Telekom and Dr. Holiday: he developed a Top Fit Service jingle for the health brand of DER Tour.
Geissler cites Lufthansa as a successful example of sound branding. For him, the ascending four-note chord conveys a dynamic ascent and at the same time safety. The engine noise behind it amplifies the sound of the aircraft.
In addition, the airline has succeeded in developing the sound logo into real sound branding. During aircraft boarding, the four-note chord is picked up and worked into the melody. “The recognition value conveys the idea of safety once again,” says Geißler. “Air passengers hear the company sound logo subconsciously, and they feel good.” For him, this is a “fantastic way to add emotional appeal to the brand.”
This strategy must be further built on in the future. Because the arrival of the voice will affect all areas of the brand. For example, there will be sound as well as text and video on a company’s own website. Until the brand then, little by little, finds its own voice. “The content of the site must be prepared in such a way that it resembles a natural dialog,” says Heer. The language, but also the messages must be prepared so that they can be found by speech-based artificial brains. These will make more and more purchasing decisions in the near future. Brands that are already working on their own sound will then have a clear advantage.
The bottom line
Sound branding is becoming increasingly important in times of smart speakers and voice assistance, as well as the renaissance of audio formats such as podcasts or radio. Sound logos give companies and brands a voice. Well implemented sound branding will add further, positive emotional appeal to brands. For brands that haven’t dealt with the issue yet, now is the time