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The Sound of Music: How to Make an Audio Impact


The correct choice of music can totally transform a brand and becoming recognisable sparks the important connection in people's mind, explains Tag’s chief creative officer Gary Szabo

The Sound of Music: How to Make an Audio Impact

You can hear some brands before you see them. The likes of Intel, McDonalds, and Netflix have nailed their sound, creating audio logos – like the little “I’m Lovin It” whistle - that we associate instinctively with their brand. They have a unique and automatically distinguishable audio identity that complements the iconic look and feel of their brands. 

Advertisers are storytellers first and foremost, and any good storyteller will be using all the tools at their disposal to get their message across. Music and sound have a huge role to play in creating campaigns that have an impact. It can move us, make us laugh, and make us cry. It helps tell the story a brand wants to get across in a powerful and emotive way. The correct choice of music can entirely change an audience reaction. It can make the content uplifting, inspiring, amusing. ‘Whatever it takes’, the Macmillan Cancer Support film set to Set to Max Richter’s Spring is a recent example of the strength of music to bring a visual story to life. 

As consumers of content, we’re increasingly getting our ear into audio. From smart speakers to the rise of podcasts – there is no denying the growth of this market. Just look at the latest stats. 1.5 million podcasts are available for streaming now compared to 50,000 in 2018. There are currently 600 million music streaming users, projected to be one billion by 2025. And the rise of smart speakers, connected cars, and “hearable” devices like AirPods continue to drive massive growth in audio.

The emerging audio-based market represents new opportunities for brands, including new places for promotion and ways for your brand to be heard. Literally. But if you are going to capitalise on this growing market you need a strategy to underpin that work.

Why does this matter? Because every single brand uses music and sound in their advertising. It represents 5% of brand marketing spend, so getting your sound management right is crucial to ensure you are getting a return on your investment and are having the right impact.

So, what do you want to sound like?

If you want someone to hear you above the noise, you need to be recognisable to help spark those connections in people’s minds.

Having a clear “sound identity” is important. People recognise and process sound from 10 to 100 times faster than visuals – and it has been proven that using sound alongside visual symbols activates a multi-sensory experience that improves recall. 

The first step on the sound journey for any brand is to ask the question – what do you want to sound like? 

At Tag, the Collective Arts team did exactly this exercise with Toyota. We worked with them to see how they could align and bring to life their brand values within their sound strategy, creating personalised playlists that brought this to life. We are now constantly on the lookout for the emerging artists and brands that fit that sound profile, where there could be exciting opportunities for collaborations. Something we can also do is connect you with an award-winning network of talent to create original compositions that will perfectly suit campaigns and brands, as we did with Toyota’s Beyond Zero campaign, aligning with the creative process early on to ensure audio isn’t an afterthought. 

We then took this one step further. Toyota are selling a huge number of cars, each with their own features, styles, and personality. They wanted to bring this to life in their advertising, so we are working with them to identify sounds and curate tailored playlists for each of their vehicles to bring out those quirks in their individual personalities, all whilst laddering up to Toyota’s core sound identity.

We also know that consumers are 96% more likely to remember brands that use music aligned with their own personal identity, which is why we looked at how Toyota could tailor the sound of their content to align with the audiences they wanted to reach in their advertising. Ahead of major campaigns, we identified specific demographics Toyota wanted to target and tested a number of top performing songs within that genre to see what resonated. The music industry moves fast, so we are always keeping an ear to the ground to understand what those audiences are listening to in any given moment, so we can tailor our recommendations accordingly. Giving us another way in to connect with Toyota’s target audience. 

Getting rights, right 

But even if you’re not excited by the growth opportunities alone, having a good sound management strategy in place is essential from an operational perspective if nothing else. 

Music and sound rights can be complicated, particularly when you’re working on campaigns that are targeting multiple markets and platforms. If usage rights are not tracked properly, we have seen the cost of fines reach up to six figures. Getting the logistics right is essential and working with a partner like Tag can also help you get these systems in place to avoid big financial hits and ensure you are getting the best prices for the music and sounds you are using.

Audio is having its moment, and now is the time to capitalise

Though often thought of at the end of a project, sound and music is at the heart of the way consumers experience and interact with your brand. It needs to be brought up the food chain and be something discussed at the beginning of the creative process, considered alongside the rest of your production output thoughtfully and well managed from the outset.

The brands that get their sound strategies in place now will be the ones to reap the rewards down the line by curating an audio experience that will permeate every listening point in the consumer journey and help a brand communicate its values and personality with impact.

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Tag, Tue, 16 Mar 2021 15:07:16 GMT