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Using Sound to Rise Above the Noise:
How Dell, Siemens, IBM, and ACVB are Using Sound & Music to Reinforce Brand Identity

Matthew Schwartz, Editorial Director - Gould+Partners


Is the world moving from search to sound? It sure seems that way. This year, nearly 36 million Americans will use a voice-enabled speaker at least once a month, a 129 percent increase from 2016, according to a report released last spring by eMarketer.

The proliferation of voice-enabled assistants, such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and OK Google, presents brands with new marketing vehicles to get their messages out. It also underscores the growing importance of audio branding, or how companies use sound and music to define and reinforce brand identity.

People know audio branding when they hear it. Think of Intel's iconic five-note sonic bong, the famous melody of State Farm insurance ("Like a Good Neighbor"), or George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" scoring United Airlines ads. However, audio branding is not limited solely to corporate jingles, and should not be confused with one-off soundtracks noting a new product or service.

"Brands often look at sound as a tactical tool, which could be using an audio logo," says Steve Keller, CEO and strategist at the audio consultancy iV, whose clients include Cadbury, Chivas Regal, and Hilton. "They need more of a strategic approach [and to] translate their brand values into a sonic language that can be integrated into their entire communications ecosystem."

Audio branding is used with more sophistication among European-based brands than American ones, but that's starting to change, albeit gradually. "When we talk about procurement and efficiencies around audio branding, the conversations [with U.S. clients] are shifting," Keller says. "We're beginning to see more of an emphasis on audio branding when there's a tie-in to costs and ROI."

...Take Dell Technologies' Trailblazers Podcast. The weekly program, which debuted in March, is hosted by Walter Isaacson, former chairman of CNN and acclaimed author of biographies on Ben Franklin and Steve Jobs, who explores digital disruption/innovation throughout various industries.

"It's audio branding in a different way," says Liz Matthews, SVP of global brand and creative at Dell. "The audio branding landscape is evolving and introducing new media that marketers can integrate into the campaign mix."

Dell also taps into music to score its various marketing campaigns. The tech giant's new branding campaign, for example, features originally orchestrated music.

...Audio branding is especially effective when marketers select an audio palette that captures the true essence of the company's qualities. A good illustration is Siemens' new branding campaign "Ingenuity for life." Login to read more.

SoCal BMA Blog - Matthew Schwartz

Matthew Schwartz
Editorial Director

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