Why Sound Matters: The Importance of Audio for Brands
Finn Bohn, Assistant Strategic Assortment & Purchasing Manager at FRILUFTS Retail Europe AB, and graduate of the MSc in Marketing and Creativity.
It’s tough to stand out as a brand. Especially if you have to rely only on the visual aspects of your brand.
They say an image is worth a 1000 words, but what if people don’t pay attention to it?
Q: Hi Finn & Kilian! What makes sound so important for brands in general?
A: Hi Julius! First of all, brands have become more important in general.
In times of overflowing information and decreasing differences between the functional attributes of products, customers are mostly looking for two things: trust and convenience.
Strong brands represent mental short cuts – instead of constantly comparing products to find the one that objectively has the best features, we rely on our previous experiences and our associations towards brands. In other words: nowadays we buy brands, not products. Brands need to create and reinforce a particular ‘positive attitude’ in the customer; and for us it’s no secret that melodies, sounds and certain frequencies have exactly this effect: they trigger memories.
Think of “Zott Sahnejoghurt” – the spot is over 20 years old and we still know the melody, if not even the lyrics. The same applies to “Nichts ist unmöglich…” – repetition and a distinctive tone interval have etched this jingle into every German’s memory who is older than 25.
Of course, these examples seem ridiculous from today’s point of view (none would use a singing monkey to promote their cars anymore). But you can’t deny what it is showing: music and sound are able to deeply embed brands and their messages in our memory.
And sound has even another effect on us, which makes it so valuable for brands: it adds emotion. If you ever watched a horror movie without sound, you’ll immediately understand this. Whether you want your brand to be perceived as cool, trustworthy, or dreamy (just to name a few possibilities) – sound sets the mood and context of your brand. And it does it subtly and universally understandable. One very good example for this is Vodafone, which has even managed to add a particularly good taste in music to their brand personality.
So, in our opinion, if used in today’s context with our modern understanding of branding, advertising and sound aesthetics, sound offers a great potential for brands to stand out, be more emotionalized and become really memorable.
Q: Most small and mid-size businesses think that having a sound logo is for big corporation only. But last decade media consumption changed. Tell us, why especially nowadays all business ideas should use sound as part of their brand set up?
A: We are not saying that sound should be generally added to everything (sometimes silence can be powerful as well). But we believe that limiting a brand and its communication only to its visual dimensions is a waste of potential – and this is of course not only true for big corporations. They say an image is worth a 1000 words, but what if people don’t pay attention to it?
We are living in times of second screen media consumption and youtube pre rolls, where attention spans are decreasing and less and less people actively watch ads. This is a particular problem when media budgets are limited. If your share of voice is small, your message will get lost in the visual clutter of today’s advertising landscape.
On the flip side, this is a great case for sound. The great thing about sound is, that you don’t need to listen actively in order to- at least subconsciously – understand a message or recognize previously heard melodies or sounds. This allows you to create acoustical links between your different messages and touch points. And all of a sudden a lot of small fragments become one coherent element.
Q: If Kilian and you start working on a sound logo, what do you need to translate the brand (company) into sound or music?
A: In order to be able to find the right sound or music fora brand, it is necessary for us to thoroughly understand the brand first.
What is its core? Your brand, for example, is closely related to you as a person. That’s why we started by interviewing you. We needed to understand not only WHAT you do, and HOW you do it, but also WHY you are doing it. What is your motivation? What drives you? What do you want to convey?
In addition, we analyzed the context, which the sound logo will appear in: the look of your website, the content of your lectures and presentations, your way of talking.
All these aspects needed to be taken into consideration in order to define a sound that reflects the personality of your brand. The sound logo should not only make people recognize your brand, but also evoke the most important aspects and values of it.
Q: When working on Brand Aesthete – what did you hear first and what was the bigger picture?
A: Working on a brand from someone who knows so much about the topic was really exciting for us. While talking to you and looking at all the different touch points of your brand, we could clearly see your vision and idea behind your work.
Since you are constantly questioning the status quo and your work is always a process, the sound logo also needed to convey the feeling of evolvement. It needed to tell a story. It is a metaphor for your work: the drop that triggers a fundamental change (symbolized by the wave sound), which evolves to a bright and open future.
Additionally, we specifically chose extremely clear and distinct high-class sounds. The logo portrays confidence, without being too dramatic at the same time – for us a perfect introduction for your talks.
Read the original post and listen to the audio logo here: Julius Geis.