The pop of a champagne bottle signals celebration. A steak on a sizzler makes you salivate. In the 70’s, the Big B’s strong and unmistakable voice was a symbol of his larger than life ‘angry young man’ persona. The sweet sound of a leather ball on bat, conjures images of a trademark classy Rahul Dravid cover drive. The cacophony of ‘patakas’ heralds the arrival of the festival of lights called ‘Diwali’. The ringing of bells connotes a deep rooted religious prayer. In our lives sound has meaning and as a matter of fact, it means everything. More importantly sound creates moods, feelings, situations and emotions.
In the world of brands too, sound can become a potent weapon for creating greater and long lasting consumer engagement. ‘Sensory Branding’ is a mantra and sound is one of the 5-senses that can be used to heighten the brand’s unique experience. We speak of a brand’s look and feel, we emphasize on a particular brand’s style and attitude.
Well, how about something like a ‘Brand Voice’?
Brands have regularly used sound in their communication but primarily, to aid recall through the use of audio mnemonics or evocative signature music. The classical Titan melodious sound track or the Britannia’s legendary ‘ting-ting-tiding’ have made us remember these brands akin to Pavlov-ian conditioning. Reliance ADAG also uses a distinctive tone for all its products and so does IDEA Cellular with its catchy yet ridiculous “Hello Honey Bunny” campaign. Sound does matter after all and these examples have proved the point exactly.
However, in this age of creating powerful sensory connections, brands must deploy sound to go beyond just aiding recall. Sound now needs to evoke feelings and emotions around the brand. After all, the senses are the portals to our emotions. Like the distinctive sound of a Harley engine means freedom and adventure to its riders.
Next we must look at using sound not as an advertising device alone, but build it into the overall brand experience. Who can forget David Ogilvy’s legendary line for Rolls Royce, “At 60 miles per hour, the only sound you hear is the ticking of the clock.” That’s silence as a sound, if you like.
If used well, sound makes brands stand out in a visually cluttered world. Perhaps, in addition to the growing breed of graphic designers who give the brand a look of its own, we now need a new brand of individuals: the ‘sound designer’, who can give the brand a voice of its own.