Given our current overly saturated relationship with visual technology, people are finding new ways to connect with the world.
What Does Your Brand Sound Like? Find a Unique Voice in a Noisy Market
Brands not only have a visual image but a sonic identity as well. Discover how to define your unique sound, so that customers hear your message.
- Beyond the brand’s visual image
- What’s audio branding?
- The use of voice-overs in the brand’s identity
- Pouring it all into a podcast
Beyond the brand’s visual image
When you try to define a brand, what do you look for? You might focus on their visual logo, try out their product or service, or interact with their staff to get a better sense of who they are.
You start getting a sense of it through their different touchpoints. Are they trustworthy? Are they formal and distant or friendly and intimate? Do they highlight tradition and composure or are they disruptive and cheeky?
Brands project a certain image to their customers, but we rarely think of their sound presence. What feeling do customers get when they listen to the brand’s sonic logo? What does the corporate song say about the brand? A brand can’t speak in itself, but it does have a voice. And that voice is what Jodi dives into in her work and podcast “Audio branding: the hidden gem of marketing”. Thanks to our second interview with Jodi, here’s what we can learn from her experience.
What’s audio branding?
An audio brand is comprised of all the sonic elements that define the brand’s identity:
- Sonic logo: a brief sequence of notes that summarizes in 5 seconds or less the overall brand vibe.
- Corporate song: a musical piece that includes the brand’s values and vision strategically created to associate those sounds with the brand. It usually includes the sonic logo melody.
- Brand voice: a specific voice-over in terms of gender, age, timbre, and other features used across the brand’s multiple touchpoints (smart speakers, ads, retail stores, apps, etc.).
Many other components go into creating the brand’s sonic ecosystem (sound design, music collaborations, store playlists, on-hold music, etc.) and it’s all intended to create an immediate and visceral connection with their (potential) customers. According to Jodi, the fundamental goal is to quickly find out who gets you and who doesn’t.
Audio branding is a large market, but it’s not easy to define its limits. It comprises different segments like voice shopping, smart speakers, audio advertising, and many budgets include some form of audio in their marketing strategies (voice-over actor, soundtrack, sound design, among others).
Here are some stats from industries that use different forms of audio branding:
- Ad spending in the audio segment (radio ads, digital ads, etc.) is projected to reach over $35 billion in 2022.
- More than 160 million smart speakers were sold last year.
- Voice-activated shopping is expected to reach $40 billion in the U.S. alone this year.
It’s a massive market and it shouldn’t be disregarded so lightly.
The use of voice-overs in the brand’s identity
Part of a brand’s sonic identity is to have a distinctive voice, but you can’t have a voice-over actor recording endless lines for every brand whim.
Instead, you synthesize it.
Jodi shared an amazing experience with us on our podcast about getting her voice cloned. With the collaboration of a software company called Beyond Words, Jodi poured her soul into a recording booth to make her voice completely adaptable to all the brand’s narration needs, except its commercial use in this instance. After recording more than 2 hours of her voice and 2.000 utterances later (blocks of texts used to train the software), the company will be able to use it to read articles, blogs, and other texts on its website.
A voice is an essential human characteristic that helps us connect with others. It’s part of our social fabric so when brands find a unique voice to communicate with their audience, they’re not only getting recognized more easily but they’re also accessing one of the most intimate ways of social bonding. This opportunity will allow them to create connections with customers deeper than ever before.
But this distinctive feature doesn’t come without certain responsibilities. Jodi and many others have been working hard with the Open Voice Network to create a contract template that will allow voice actors to ensure their rights are upheld when lending their voices to be used by companies across the world. This technology has come to stay and voice-over actors have to ensure they’ll be treated fairly. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
Pouring it all into a podcast
Brands can use podcasts to get their voice heard and strengthen their community. It’s another way of audio branding.
With more than 130 episodes on her podcast, Jodi can share several tips that can help a branded podcast thrive:
- Have an intro and outro: this distinctive sound element can be a certain melody or voice-over message that helps the audience dive into the podcast. Some say that you could use a voice that’s in contrast with yours so if you’re a male podcaster use a female voice intro and outro, and vice versa. People will know what’s coming.
- Include sonic transitions between parts: whenever there’s a change from the main podcast to an ad or some other segment, use a music trill, a tone sequence, a beat, or any sound effect that will help the audience differentiate between the main podcast thread and things outside of it.
- Automate the process: there are certain parts of assembling a podcast episode that can be automated and save you a lot of time and effort. There are many useful tools such as the following:
o You can use Calendly to book guests for your show and set up reminders.
o Google Forms will get the information you need from your interviewees.
o Canva allows you to have templates for the visuals you’ll use to market it.
- Carry out pre-interviews with your potential guests: think of it as a screen-out session. You have to make sure your guest can talk eloquently on the topic, that there’s a rapport with your interviewee, and that you get all the information you need to do your research before the show. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time and theirs.
There’s a lot you’ll learn throughout the process and many mistakes will be made, but these tips can help you sort out some of the obstacles and accelerate the learning curve to create a high-quality branded podcast. At the end of the day, we’re all grateful when there’s more good content for everyone to enjoy.
Brands not only have a visual image but a sonic identity as well. Many sonic elements go into the creation of the brand’s audio ecosystem like synthesized voice-overs that companies can use across all their touchpoints. Jodi’s experience in lending her voice to such an endeavor is an insightful story and her podcast’s experience offers invaluable lessons for anyone interested in pursuing an audio strategy for their brand.
Jodi has first-hand experience in synthesizing her voice as part of a brand’s sonic strategy. Our interview with her dives deeper into this topic and offers a new opportunity to anyone developing a sonic identity for their personal brand or their client’s brand. Moreover, her podcast lets you explore the vastness of audio possibilities in marketing and it’s a wealth of knowledge you shouldn’t miss out on!