Your audience is listening. And what they hear from you can have a profound impact on how they feel about your brand. Yet, most companies don’t apply the same degree of thoughtfulness and rigor to the audible experiences they create as they do to the visual experiences. As a result, there is often a perplexing disconnect between what customers see and what they hear.
1. Be Aware
Perhaps the biggest mistake many companies make with respect to their aural customer experience is simply not giving it enough thought. Or any thought at all. Many companies will insist that they don’t need to think strategically about sound because it isn’t an essential part of their product or service offering, nor does it figure prominently in their communications mix.
But if you ever put your customers on hold, record a voice-over for a training video, sync a piece of music to your new product demo, or build a playlist for your tradeshow booth, you are creating an aural experience that affects your audiences on an emotional level and influences how your brand is perceived.
2. Think Congruency and Continuity
One of the first steps in developing a strategy for using sound and music more purposefully is defining your unique sound—your audio identity. This is simply the aural analog to your visual identity: a prescription for expressing your brand identity and evoking key brand concepts and ideals through sound and music.
Why is this important? For the same reasons that you develop standards for the visual and verbal expressions of your brand—namely, to ensure that you project your brand identity in an authentic and consistent manner across all touch points.
Articulating your organization’s audio identity isn’t easy, which is why companies typically hire audio-branding agencies to lead them through the process. However, short of a full-fledged audio identity profile, your brand team can and should at least develop some basic guidelines for the selection of on-brand audio assets. For example, what kind of voice-over artist best personifies your brand identity? Male or female? Youthful or more seasoned? Casual and humorous or formal and solemn?
Reaching consensus on what kind of sonic attributes feel right for the brand will give you the objective criteria to make sure that all of your audible touch points are harmonious, working in concert to create a coherent aural impression among your audience members.
3. Go Pro
Even if you don’t want to hire an audio-branding agency to help you use sound and music more strategically across your enterprise, you should at least hire professionals to execute whatever audio tactics you choose to employ. Does someone in IT record your on-hold or IVR messages? Chances are, their voice-over skills aren’t as polished as they could be. And a lo-fi recording will only detract from the image you are trying to project.
And what about music? The soundtrack for your new brand video, for example, has the potential to express the soul of your organization and connect with audiences on an emotional level. It’s a critical representation of your brand identity, and it should be crafted specially for you. Although you may have some talented musicians working at your company, do they have the stylistic range and the musical chops required to compose and record something original and moving that conveys the humanity of your organization?
The point is, you wouldn’t entrust the design of your new corporate logo, the shooting of a brand-photography library, or the remodeling of your flagship retail space to just anyone. You would hire experts. And, to insure that your customers’ aural experience is as compelling and on-brand as it can be, you should also hire audio professionals to create the audible components of your brand experience.