From visual to audio branding

03-04-2019

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Not only images and videos: businesses revalue hearing – the only 24/7 active human sense – and focus on audio branding to improve content memorability and people engagement.

You are walking, driving, or waiting for the bus. You have a smartphone in your pocket, or at hand. If wearing earphones, you might not be listening to music. Thanks to last generation devices with advanced sound features, and home vocal assistants that can read for us, audio entertainment is turning into a notable industry.

Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the US editorial market (+28.9% in 2018), they are appreciated by 24% of Americans and above all by the under 35 generation, representing about 48% of heavy users. About 7% of Italians did listen to an audiobook in the last year, 75% from a smartphone. Moreover, according to a Nielsen – Audible survey, in Italy about 2.7 million adults regularly listen to podcasts, very much appreciated by people 18 – 40 years old.

Voice and sound are ideal tools for storytelling – remember oral stories predated any written communication. And listening fits new habits in the consumption of news and other contenta, considering people spend lot of time in mobility, are less likely to read, and overstimulated by visuals.

Audio has the merit of soliciting imagination and favour memorability, creating a more emotional connection between speaker and listener. A real opportunity for marketers, who are revaluing audio branding to build or consolidate a distinctive sound identity.

It’s not about jingles. There are brands with true sound logos: you would easily recognise Intel and Samsung technologies, Disney magic or Metro Goldwyn Mayer roar, the five notes by Mc Donald’s. Even Mastercard has recently debuted its sonic brand identity.

Some are exploring audio brochures, but the news about content marketing are branded podcasts, creating the perfect storytelling for smartphone and mobile devices.

General Electric experienced it in 2015 with The Message, a 8 weeks science fiction podcast series which reached over 400 million downloads. About one year ago marketing guru Seth Godin kicked off Akimbo, a weekly podcast series about jobs and productivity, endorsed by ZipRecruiter. Facebook has just started its “Three and Half Degrees”, talking about entrepreneurship and connections to boost business.

Audio branding requires specific skills. If keeping its promise, a generation of sound tellers and sound designers will quickly grow up. And we’ll feed social networks that, without using words, will allow us to share the world through its sound.