Quick question: what makes Company A different from all other companies in an industry? That answer can range from areas like management style to in-store experience or partnerships, but, for consumers, the most obvious difference is the branding. While the focus of branding is usually skewed towards the visual medium (things like name, logo, colour, typography), today we’re going to look at an aspect that can have far more impact but is all-too-often overlooked, audio identity.
Basically, audio identity, much like its visual counterpart, involves brand recognition through the use of sound. Breaking the term down, the adjective audio, coming from the Latin audire, meaning ‘to hear’, denotes the use of sound for a specific purpose and was first used in this context by the journal Discovery in September, 1935, stating that: “They are providing ever better products and service to enable the listening public to get more enjoyment from the ‘audio’ programmes..and will be ready to cater for those who wish..to see such ‘video’ items as may become available.” Identity, which ironically comes from the Middle French identité with a root in the Latin idem, both of which mean ‘the same or sameness’, essentially represents the individual and different characteristics that we all share, and is first seen using the concept of individuality in William Alexander’s Notes and Sketches Illustrative of Northern Rural Life (1877) in a quote from 1737, where is written: “On being ‘posed’ as to its identity by George Watt and his brothers, the ghost..solemnly averred and swore that it was a good spirit.”
In practice, audio identity can be any sound that is associated with a particular brand, but the idea itself is anything but new. With a pedigree that stretches back to musical product advertisements in 1923 and product jingles in 1926 – back in the earliest days of commercial radio – audio identity is now seeing a further resurgence thanks to podcasts, smart speakers, and audio searches. Of course, the truth is that it has never really gone away: think about the audio used to inform you that something has an Intel chip, is a 20th Century Fox film, or how, maybe, you’d “like to buy the world a Coke.”
Bolstering the audio argument, surveys have shown that:
– Brands that use music that is aligned with the brand identity are 96% more likely to be remembered by the consumer, than brands that use ‘unfit’ music or no music at all.
– 74 % of young adults believe that they develop a better understanding of a company’s personality through music.
– Sound is rated as a key element of brand communication by 41% of consumers.
– Audio ads are more than 2x as likely to lift purchase intent and information intent than display ads
So, what is your audio identity saying about your company, and, more importantly, what are your customers hearing?