Sonic Identity: Sound branding for b2b businesses
As the world evolves towards a more digitalized landscape, businesses must adapt their branding strategies to maintain a competitive edge. One such essential strategy, notably crucial in the B2B sector, is effective branding. The sector is now acknowledging this necessity, but with 85% of companies stating that the B2B marketing landscape has become increasingly complex, it's clear that traditional branding strategies might not suffice.
Branding in B2B is paramount not only to distinguish oneself from the 62% of CMOs who see their marketing strategy as akin to their competitors but also to build long-term, trustworthy relationships. These relationships are particularly vital in the B2B realm where purchases often symbolize the start of a long-term relationship rather than a one-off transaction and the buying cycle is often time longer than regular B2C counterparts.
Decision makers are human, literarily.
According to Edelman’s study, 64% of decision-makers prefer a more human, less formal tone of voice to an even-toned intellectual voice. Also, according to a report from Allison+Partners, 97% of B2B marketers believe in the importance of humanising their brand, but only 26% feel they have done it.
The expectations from both ends could have just spurned the essence of the topic at the right time where a sonic identity not only complements the human touchpoints of a brand but it helps take the experience further by delving into the depths of the subconscious, creating associations that connect the decision makers to the brands on a profoundly emotional level.
Innovative approaches such as sonic branding have emerged as potent tools to enhance brand perception and customer experience from first touch to the point of contract signing.
Understanding the Concept of Sonic Branding
Sound branding is not just about jingles or theme songs; it's also about creating a unique audio signature that consumers instantly associate with your brand. Picture the slack the distinctive Slack knock brush' notification sound or a slew of sounds from Salesforce Sales Cloud. These sounds are as much a part of the brand as their logos or taglines.
Amber Case, author of Designing With Sound, asserts that in application design, sound should be given as much attention as any other aspect of design: “Well-designed sounds can be exceptionally effective in conveying subtle distinctions, emotion, urgency, and information without adding visual clutter.”
The Sound of Trust: Sonification Demo : Salesforce
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Sound branding should be given much more attention by brands and businesses for several reasons. For one, it facilitates rapid communication as the human mind processes sound at an incredible speed. Even a single note can evoke specific emotions. Sound, being emotional by nature, elicits emotion through your brand, creating an instant connection with your target market. Moreover, when something is associated with a feeling, it becomes deeply embedded into the memory.
Why is Sound So Effective?
Sound has an amazing ability to evoke a reaction within our brains – which shouldn’t come as a surprise if a piece of music has ever given you goosebumps, or you’ve felt a gut-wrenching feeling when hearing a baby cry.
We’re hardwired to react to sound, and we learn what certain sounds mean, both in an evolutionary and a social context. Nowadays, sound can be a helpful tool to let us know that it’s safe to cross the road, that our card transaction has been accepted, or that an error on our computer needs attention.
The Role of Sound Branding in Building Brand Identity
One intriguing study, which examined the reactions of 1,000 Australian consumers to various audio clips, shed light on the profound impact different types of music can have on our emotional responses. It revealed that the specific melodies, chords, or key changes within songs can elicit strong but distinctly different emotional reactions among individuals.
For instance, the study found that when strings played short and sharp notes in a major key, a remarkable 87% of respondents reported feeling a sense of happiness and excitement. On the other hand, a shift from major to minor keys triggered a sense of sadness or melancholy in 83% of participants. Additionally, a striking 90% of respondents associated acoustic guitar sounds with attributes like care, calmness, and sophistication.
These findings emphasize the importance for advertisers and marketers to have a clear understanding of the emotions they wish to evoke in their viewers. It underscores the significance of selecting the appropriate type of sound that aligns with the desired emotional response.
By leveraging the unique qualities of sound, marketers can create memorable and distinct brand experiences across different touchpoints a B2B buyer can go through from Advertisements, testimonials videos, Webinars, customer support wait tunes, demo videos etc keeping the brand consistent and stand out amidst the noise of the market.
The Business Impact of Sound Branding
Sound branding isn't just about brand identity; it also has a tangible business impact. A study by Leicester University found that brands with music that fit their brand identity were 96% more likely to be recalled than those with non-fitting music. Mastercard’s sound of Trust and Inclusion project which resulted in 63% more digital transactions, 2X more transaction confidence, 78% boost in trust from 98+ million sonic touchpoints as reported by amp is proof of the impact of a properly executed sonic branding.
Because of how quickly our brains process sound, the perfect sonic logo can almost enter the mind subconsciously. By associating a certain tone or jingle with your brand, you can create instant recognition with your audience even if they’re not looking at a poster or reading an advertisement.
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Getting Started with Sound Branding
If you're convinced about the power of sound branding and want to get started, here are some steps to guide you:
Define Your Brand's Sonic Identity: Just like your visual identity, your sonic identity should reflect your brand's personality and values. Consider the emotions you want to evoke in your audience and how sound can help achieve that.
Create Your Sound Assets: This could be a brand anthem, a jingle, a sound logo, or even the background music for your ads. Remember, consistency is key. The sound should be recognizable and consistent across all platforms and touchpoints. It is also important to avoid using stock sounds or some basic AI-generated music and rather explore creating custom-produced soundscapes. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some sound assets that you can consider creating for your brand:
- Immersive audio
- Sonic Logo
- Brand Voice
- Event Sound
- On-hold Music
Test Your Sound: Before you launch, test your sound on a small audience. Gather feedback and make necessary adjustments.
Launch and Integrate: Once you're satisfied with your sound, launch it and integrate it into your marketing strategy. Use it consistently across all platforms to build recognition.
Sonic branding can be an extremely valuable tool but it’s more important for some companies than others. If you create any of the following, you would most likely benefit from creating a strong sonic brand:
- TV and radio adverts
- Podcasts and vlogs
- Audio or video content or guides
It is also very important to think long-term, be consistent, be unique and be ready to evolve as you do to your visual identities. Make sure the sounds you choose to complement your name, colour scheme, and general ideals to strengthen the bond between your sonic and visual identities.
Sonic Branding is a long game.
Sound branding is more than just a marketing gimmick. It's a powerful tool that can enhance brand identity, drive customer engagement, and fuel business growth. When creating an audio identity, it's important to think long-term, be consistent, adapt to different platforms, evolve over time, and be unique. An audio strategy should span five to ten years or more. Consistency across multiple touchpoints boosts ROI significantly.
Looking ahead, the future of audio branding holds even more promise as smart devices and ad slots on streaming services become deeply ingrained in mainstream culture. The rise of podcasts, music streaming services, and video platforms with enabled audio amplifies the reach of sonic advertisements. With the growing prevalence of smart speakers, a substantial percentage of households now interact with brands through audio platforms. Major players in the industry, such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, have already embraced sonic branding to create unique identities for their smart speakers.
The world of sonic branding is set to expand exponentially with the increasing adoption of AI and virtual reality. Imagine entering a virtual store powered by VR or AR technology, with the ambient soundscape echoing the brand's identity. Or consider a generative AI that crafts unique soundscapes, embodying a brand's essence while continuously adapting to the audience's preferences. This fusion of branding and cutting-edge technology could redefine how we perceive and interact with brands, thus forming a new frontier in the marketing world.
As the physical and digital realms become increasingly intertwined, the future of branding lies in harmonizing these dimensions. Sonic branding, with its ability to traverse both realms, presents itself as a promising strategy. Its potential to enhance customer experience, reinforce loyalty, and guide decision-makers through the longer buying cycle prevalent in B2B transactions makes it an indispensable tool for any B2B company looking to scale new heights in today's digital era.
As we conclude, it's important to ask yourself: what impressions do you want to leave your listeners with? How do you want them to feel when they hear your brand's sound? These are the questions that will guide you in creating a sound brand that truly resonates with your audience.
Temitope is a seasoned Product and Growth Marketing leader with experience in Fintech, Web3, and eCommerce B2B and B2C Startups and stock-listed companies. Plus, he’s a dad-jokes maestro.