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The Influencers

Here Are the Top 10 Benefits of Audio Branding

Elisa Harris, Founding Partner at CORD, on how music can help brands engage with their consumers in innovative ways

Here Are the Top 10 Benefits of Audio Branding

I have spent most of my working life attempting to describe what it is we do in as few words as possible….’we manage the entirety of a brand’s sound’ or ‘we help brands sound better’…but I believe the very best way to bring audio branding to life is to look at real and current examples of those brands that have jumped in at the musical deep end. These brands believe that music is an inherent part of their DNA; they use music to tell stories, to create more branded moments and to engage with their consumers in innovative ways. 

Here is a collection of my top ten benefits of audio branding, including examples of the brands that are moving things on in this area.


1. Create more branded moments

Sound is everywhere. 

Go beyond how you look and feel and begin to harness its power. Make sure you use every opportunity for music and sound to reinforce your brand and its personality. And don’t leave it to chance. Use it to connect and form long-lasting relationships with your consumers. 

Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO, Starbucks - “Music has played a pivotal role in our stores for over 40 years and we have been at the forefront of how to integrate it into a retail environment.” Together with Spotify,  Starbucks has built a differentiated third-place experience with music at the heart of its coffeehouse culture.”  


2. Drive familiarity

The key to using music strategically is to use it often, consistently and in line with your audience’s tastes and habits. Use it to drive memorability and recognition in a crowded market-place by adopting our ‘recency, relevancy, frequency’ model. 

Joe Belliotti, Head of Global Music, The Coca-Cola Company - “It’s always our ambition to continue this tradition by featuring great music in our advertising that people will remember and love decades from now.” 


3. Stand out from your competitors

It’s a noisy world out there, so use music to give your brand a distinctive edge. 

Treating the sound of your brand as carefully as you do its tone of voice and visual identity, is key. First, ask yourself 'is the sound of my brand intentional?' and then ‘is it exclusive to my brand’? One role for marketing and communications is to make your audience sit up and take notice. If you create something unique that feels in keeping with your brand, you are more likely to find a clear and distinctive place within your market landscape.

Susie Rossick, Assistant Vice President of Marketing Honda - "The campaign’s goal is to break through the car sales event clutter and remind people that summer is the best time to get a great deal”


4. Attract a younger audience

Music is one of the most recognised passion points for generation X and Y. It is also the most talked-about subject on social media. The challenge is how to insert your brand into these conversations in relevant and interesting ways. With a strategy in place that creates new experiences and moments around music, it is sure to resonate with the younger generation and help forge indelible memories that are intrinsically linked back to your brand. 

Bobby Oliver, Brand Marketing Director, Sprite - "Sprite tapped into Hip-Hop culture 30 years ago with our ad featuring Kurtis Blow ... The Sprite 'Obey Your Verse' campaign is not only an acknowledgement of the genre's best storytellers, but also a way of inspiring and empowering our fans to be true to themselves."


5. Connect on an emotional level

Music is one of the most immediate and powerful means  of connecting with an audience. Marketing is as much about the emotional as it is the rational. Choosing the right music for your brand will help elicit the desired emotional response from your consumers, whether that be joy or moving people to tears. The first step to using music emotively is to develop a clear musical framework. This framework will help to define how little or much you use music to drive the emotional side of your brand’s personality.

Anuraag Trikha, Global Brand Communication Director, Heineken - "Music has almost become the beat of how Heineken communicates and touches people around the world.” 


6. Work efficiently with music

Everyone who has ever worked with music knows how time consuming the process can be; from subjective music selections though to negotiations over rights and terms. Audio branding means putting in place a system for managing a brand's sound. First step, define some creative guidelines for how your brand stakeholders will search and select music in the future. 

Olivier François, CMO and Head of Fiat brand, Chrysler Group and Fiat Group Automobiles - “Many CMOs can talk about how important music has been to their campaigns, but for me, it has been a soundtrack to my entire career... at Fiat or Chrysler, music won’t ever be a finishing touch. It will always be a core of the idea.” 


7. Innovate your brand

Music is being consumed in more ways than ever before. If you are looking for innovation to drive the bottom line, then music could be the answer. Furthermore, if you can tap into the space where music and technology converge then you will be sure to engage and delight your consumers. First step, make a plan for an integrated innovation strategy that uses music to drive the idea.

Oscar Ocaña, Marketing Director, Johnnie Walker - "...the drinker is ultimately more connected to the drink, making for an exciting experience that combines flavour with sound.” 


8. Develop new brand-owned assets

Music has the potential to become a powerful asset for a brand.   Why borrow or lease a piece of music when your brand can create something of its very own? The benefits of ownership include full exclusivity over the music, complete control over how and where the music is used and the added advantage of only having to pay once. One might say it’s a no brainer! 

Creative director of Martin Agency, Dave Muhlenfeld, says of the "Wonderfilled" anthem that serves as the backbone of all OREO major campaigns - "Why bother licensing music when you can create a hit of your own?” 


9. Generate new revenue streams

By placing music at the heart of a brand’s eco-system, it is possible to put in place a system for generating income. The royalties associated with the ownership of music should incentivise brands to create and manage their own assets. However, long-term planning is a must and a desire to nurture and protect your brand’s musical framework is fundamental to a return on investment. 

 Ken Bunt, President, Disney Music Group, Walt Disney Company - "All the classic songs you know from Disney films, we have publishing for most of the artists that we sign, as well as other songwriters that write either externally or internally for our artists or film and TV projects.”


10. Be heard, when you can't be seen

There are instances when a piece of brand content may not allow use of your brand’s visual identity in marketing communications. If you have designed an audio identity that is intrinsically linked to your brand including its visual identity and its values, this over time will stand on its own two feet.  Your audio branding will, in time, allow you to connect with your consumers through sound alone. 

Dean Aragon, VP Brand and CEO, Shell Brands International AG - "When you hear the sonic signature of Shell, we’d love to think that even if you can’t see it, you can somehow visualise the Shell logo and feel the whole cachet of the brand with it.” 

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