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Guest Times: Strengthening a brand with sonic identity

Anil Ramachandran, Head, Marketing & Communications and Head Retail Unsecured Assets, IndusInd Bank, writes about sonic identity, which is the strategic use of music and sound for brand experience and audience connection

Anil Ramachandran

We live in a digital world and most stakeholders associated with the brand are ‘wired for sound’. We are engaging with a generation which practically ‘lives online’ with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter being the doors to this world, which is awake 24x7. These new-age platforms make it possible and give brands an opportunity to connect with the audience – our customers – on a continual basis. This constant engagement will eventually lead to the creation of distinctiveness for the brand, thus occupying a chunk of the mind-space.

Sound essentially brings out the emotions in the most effective way in a short span of time and, if used correctly, can resonate with the brand it is associated with for a long time. When we step out into the world – walk around the streets or commute to work, the number of brands that are vying to grab our attention and fighting even for occupying that extra bit of mindscape can be quite overwhelming, irksome even. Brands, hence, are looking for newer and less exasperating ways to occupy that uncharted and untenanted bit of customer touchpoint. Cut to ‘sonic identity’, which is a relatively unexplored territory among the gamut of brands, and one stimulating method of grabbing the ‘earpoints’, fairly less explored in India.

Sonic identity is the strategic use of music and sound for brand experiences and audience connection. Sonic is not used here as a tactic, but as an indispensable aspect of a brand identity that can be scaled aptly across communication channels – both digital and live touchpoints. Music and sound are known to instantaneously activate an emotional response, upsurge cognizance and ascription, improve sensitivities, drive contemplation and build deeper associations. Sonic identity can humanise digital touchpoints, making them more spontaneous and thus instantaneously alluring to consumers.

Digital communication has become the way many brands establish a connect with the customers. For all of its practicality and efficacy, digital has the challenge of being devoid of a personality and ultimately leads to an undifferentiated and seemingly uncaring experience. Therefore, the strategic use of sonic can dramatically improve a digital interaction by placing a brand’s unique identity and personality front-and-centre.

Sonic branding is most easily identifiable in commercial channels such as television ads, radio commercials, in-store, etc. But many of us are taking in so much of sonic around us without even realising it; whether it’s the haptic feedback (sound/vibration) from a mobile app or a colleague’s mobile handset buzzing with the brand’s somewhat familiar signature ringtone. There is hence a strong brand recall even though you are not directly associated with a particular brand; the opportunities for indirect associations being even more.

Sound is fast and memorable. It works wonderfully when it has a brand persona to convey, to enhance emotions and create memory. When a visual logo is paired with a sound logo, marrying them doesn’t just make the logo twice as recognisable or notable; the effect of the outcome is exponential. For instance, when you hear a few notes of the James Bond theme, a whole set of connotations and reactions submerge in the brain in an instant. Such is the impact of music to a mind that is constantly taking in data – knowingly or unknowingly.

Consumers can be exposed to a brand’s sonic identity in the background and still be impacted by it in the most vivid manner imaginable. While most of ‘push’ marketing requires consumers to sit still, read, watch and consume marketing material, an acoustic inscription is created subconsciously and subtly in the brain. The appeal of this rather subtle approach is that it can be introduced to the multiple stakeholders in places other than self-branded channels, making the possibilities quite limitless.

Each brand has various attributes attached to it – some heroic, some emotional, sentimental, compassionate, among million possibilities. The specific attributes the audio identity evokes need to be identified and customised depending on the brand persona. While one brand may choose a light, upbeat sound, another may choose something more deep and mysterious, depending upon the aura and traits it associates its existence with.

When it comes to your brand DNA, silence isn’t golden – it’s just an element to a larger edifice. This sure gives us a reason to step back and ponder upon – ‘What does your brand sound like?’

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of BestMediaInfo.com and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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