Brand Consistency: Sound
When marketing and advertising pros talk about branding, you get a lot of different definitions. Everyone in this age intuitively knows what branding is, but for our purposes here we’ll use a simple (but certainly not all encompassing) definition: a consistent look and feel developed by and over time associated with a brand.
That is, the branding of a piece is largely defined by a consistent look and feel of the piece. For example, the branding of a website or print piece is largely accomplished through the look and feel of the site or piece consistent with that developed by the brand over time. The logo and colors (look) and typography, layout, use of white space, etc. (feel).
For projects and campaigns involving audio and video, I’d argue that there’s a third and often ignored element: sonic branding – consistent sound.
Sonic branding isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around ever since electronic media. Think of the classic radio and TV jingles of the 50s and 60s like Chevrolet... ”See the USA in Your Chevrolet”… or Maxwell House’s iconic percolator sound.
Today’s sonic branding tends to be a little subtler and more sophisticated. Think of Intel’s sonic logo. Sonic branding can be music or sound, but it can also be a consistent professional voice. Think of brands like Mercedes Benz (Jon Hamm), Aflac (Gilbert Gottfried, then Dan McKeague), or Nationwide Insurance (Julia Roberts).
Often large companies may use several brand voices over time as campaigns and product or service lines come and go, and some may be more consistent than others.
But the concept of consistent sound that many small and medium sized companies too often don’t take competitive advantage of (pardon the dangling preposition).
For instance, is your brand voice consistent from your web ads to your on-hold messaging, to your training videos, to your broadcast commercials, to your Alexa skill?
Voice humanizes and helps emotionally connect your brand to your audience. Developing a consistent brand voice over time also helps more quickly, subconsciously, and more powerfully associate that voice with your brand.
This is why actors often cannot work for competing companies in the same category. Coke won’t hire an actor in a current Pepsi commercial. Lowe’s can’t hire Josh Lucas, nor would they want to because we associate him so closely with Home Depot.
Why would you not use sound as consistently as you would look and feel?
Comments, as always, welcome.