How to Master Sonic Branding in the Era of Voice

Credit: Pexels by Jadson Thomas

While it may not have been evident at the time, the Amazon Echo’s 2014 release heralded a new era of voice. Alexa wasn’t the first voice assistant, but its capabilities easily eclipsed predecessors like Apple’s Siri. By 2019, 25% of U.S. adults had smart speakers in their homes.

Amazon continues to dominate rivals like Google and Apple today. The e-commerce giant holds an estimated 70% of the smart speaker market, which is expected to exceed $30 billion by 2024. But the trend toward voice goes beyond smart speakers in the home. Research suggests that 90% of new vehicles will come with voice assistants by 2025, with technologies like computers, mobile devices, and headphones all following suit.

Consumers are becoming more accustomed to interacting with devices — and brands — through voice. More than 30% of American consumers who use voice-enabled devices have made a purchase using the technology, and that number will only increase as more businesses cater to audience desires to interact with technology verbally. For organizations, the message is clear: You can embrace the future of voice, or you can fall by the wayside.

Building a Sonic Brand

Creating a sonic brand is one of the most fundamental ways your organization can begin to establish its audio presence. Companies like Intel and McDonald’s have invested heavily in their sonic brands — the fact that you can instantly recognize Intel’s musical logo and the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle is a testament to the incredible power of sound.

As you build your own sonic brand, you’ll want to consider the different audio touchpoints that your customers experience. Do you have a sonic logo you can add at the end of commercials or ads? Do you include it in your online videos? What about the sounds that mark a website purchase, company phone call, or app login, among others?

With so many different interactions taking place across various channels, crafting a successful sonic brand can seem intimidating. But it’s possible to make your sonic brand cohesive, attractive, and authentic by following these four steps:

1. Audit your brand

Before you experiment with your organization’s sound and voice, it’s important to perform a brand audit to ensure your efforts are headed in the right direction. Think about the personality of your organization and what values you want to convey. Are you innovative? Enthusiastic? What does your organization care deeply about? Whatever you uncover, make sure it guides your sonic branding efforts.

2. Appeal to your audience

Your sonic brand is based largely on your organization’s identity, but it must still appeal to your audience. If your organization has a global reach, for example, then your sonic brand should take into account the different sounds, music, languages, and common sayings of your target demographics. Your sonic brand should be unified, but it also needs to resonate with a variety of distinct communities.

3. Maintain audio quality

For a sonic brand to remain consistent across channels, your audio elements must be carefully crafted and normalized for broadcast standards. Your audio shouldn’t peak or dip in a way that makes it difficult to listen to, and it shouldn’t sound gravelly or disconnected. All aspects need to be clear, distinct, and professionally made. This may mean that you hire an audio engineer for key elements of your sonic branding.

4. Deploy across all touchpoints

In order for consumers to become familiar with an organization’s sonic brand, they have to interact with it regularly. This means audio elements must be incorporated across all brand touchpoints, including social media platforms, advertisements, and websites. Over time, people will begin to identify your organization by sound alone.

As the audio space becomes more crowded, the organizations that have invested in their sonic brands will be far more recognizable than those that don’t. To avoid falling behind and losing your competitive edge, make sure you begin exploring what it takes to craft your distinct sound. The time is now to establish your presence in the era of voice.

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