Audio Branding: Unlocking Creativity

Today's final extract from Sonic Branding: An Introduction concludes by encouraging brands to take their stakeholders to places that they have never been, by providing a vision for the scope of sonic opportunities available to them and using audio branding to unlock creativity.

Chapter 25 - Experience

Stage one to three of the sonic branding engine are fundamentally concerned with how a brand seeks to identify itself in sound. These stages lead to the creation of a model and a set of internal management tools that can be referenced by all those who seek to represent a brand to its stakeholders; ad agencies, interactive designers, call centre managers and so on. It is important for all those in control of a brand touchpoint to take responsibility for the relationship they establish with the stakeholders and to ensure it is a consistent with the brand and its values. It is crucial to this relationship. It is crucial to this relationship that a sonic identity is referenced and for the framework it provides to be appreciated if a brand experience is to be effective. To make an analogy with visual branding, stages one to three create the typographic style, a logo and a framework in which these can be utilised. Stage four turns these visual elements into letterheads, uniforms and signage that all communicate something about the brand. 

The keys to ensuring that the sonic identity is effective wherever a brand seeks to communicate with its stakeholders are the branding criteria of flexibility and consistency. The first three stages of the sonic branding engine provide points of distinctiveness and memorability by creating an understanding of the sounds that effectively communicate a brand and in doing so provide a palette of music, voice and ambient sounds with almost infinite flexibility. It is then up to those in charge of the various touchpoints to implement this palette in the most contextually sympathetic way. By opening up the world of sound to those who seek to communicate a brand it is possible to provide them with the creative tools they need to reach stakeholders in the best manner. Their understanding of their touchpoints and their audience makes them the right people to decide how the brand’s sonic identity should be implemented and by providing a sonic palette and guidelines, it is possible to encourage creativity while being in a position to enforce consistency. 

For too long now the controllers of the traditional media have feared sonic branding due to the constraints they feel it places on their creativity. In fact sonic branding as explained in this book could be the key to unlocking creativity and allowing brands to take their stakeholders to places that they have never been. If a voice can communicate everything about a brand then there is the opportunity to take the visual elements to uncharted territories. If a sonic logo is as recognised as a visual one then there is no need for a pack-shot.

Brand experience, with the help of new technology, is changing and changing fast. Stakeholders are now able to exercise far greater control over the messages they receive and experiences they have. No longer is our understanding of a brand solely determined by a celebrity endorsement or an expensive advertisement during half-time at the Super Bowl. Brands must now understand every point at which they communicate with their stakeholders and must appreciate every context. They must learn to fit into people’s lives seamlessly while at the same time encouraging them to take certain paths. 

If brands are to retain their position in society they must learn to appreciate the true nature of experiences they can offer. They must learn to harness the power of each sense in order to remain distinct and relevant. They must understand the role they play in stakeholders’ lives and ensure that they fulfil this role. They must quickly learn the potential for new technology and ensure they utilise it correctly and effectively. It would be too complicated to explore this role and how sound fits into it in all the experiences a brand can offer. Instead, by providing an understanding of the scope of opportunities offered by sound, we hope to allow brand-owners and communicators to fully explore its potential. The challenge is great and if brands are to be up to it they need to understand and appreciate what sound can do for them, then they must use it creatively. 

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD