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What’s That Sound?

From creating an acoustic logo to advertising on podcasts, it’s time to tune up your company’s audio identity.

Listen up! With the popularity of sound-centered media such as podcasts and music-streaming services, and the increasing prevalence of voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, you need a distinctive audio identity that works in harmony with your broader brand identity.

“As brands continue to find ways to cut through the clutter to reach customers, some are finding new avenues in audio engagement. Experimentation in sonic logos, branded podcasts and audio-augmented reality, as well as innovation in audio advertising and content, are challenging brands to define what they sound like,” according to the 2020 Retail Trends Report: Now, New, Next from Alliance Data, a provider of branded credit cards and data-driven insights based in Columbus, Ohio.

As you form an audio identity for your company, Alliance Data suggests you begin as you would with any branding exercise, by thinking about “what you want people to think and feel when they hear your brand sound.”

Do you have a jingle you’ve created for TV and radio advertising? If so, start there, either building on your signature sound or updating it. For inspiration, listen to brands that have iconic sounds or ditties associated with them. For instance, think of the two-note “ba-dum” that prepares Netflix viewers to binge watch or the can-do, spirited Farmers Insurance theme —  “We are Farmers! Bum ba dum bum bum bum bum.” Simple. Memorable.

Streaming platform Pandora recently joined Netflix and Farmers, creating its own audio logo “with a goal to create instant brand recall with consumers whenever the sound is heard,” according to the Alliance Data report.

Once you’ve orchestrated your audio identity, you should use it consistently — in traditional TV and radio advertising; as a tag at the beginning or end of videos posted on social media; as part of your hold soundtrack for phone calls; even in-store, perhaps as shoppers come through the door.

Another way to amplify your audio identity is advertise on newer platforms, including podcasts, streaming services and voice assistants.

Athletic apparel maker Lululemon is among the companies testing audio ads through Amazon Alexa devices. “The ads are played for Alexa users who do not subscribe to Prime, come in 15- and 30-second formats, and include an image for devices with screens,” Alliance Data says.

Podcasts that focus on health and wellness or that appeal to specific demographics you want to reach can be a good place to spend some advertising dollars. According to Alliance Data, 8% of consumers have discovered a new brand or product by listening to a podcast. Not a big number, but enough to boost your sales.

Or maybe you want to follow the lead of Harrods, which has launched its own podcast focused on exploring the idea of luxury — something the venerable department store knows a bit about.

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