• Transform magazine
  • September 27, 2021


Good sounds: Audio Branding Awards

audio brand.jpg

The Audio Branding Awards, run by the association leading the audio branding industry, the Audio Branding Academy, showcased the best in a rapidly growing sector of the branding community. Emily Andrews reports from Berlin

The atmosphere at the Audio Branding Awards in Berlin was tribal; a hodgepodge of composers, marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and brand enthusiasts, many of whom had known each other since the dawn of audio branding as an industry appeared overwhelmed by the sector’s rapidly growing prestige and recognition.

Steve Keller, CEO at iV Audio Branding, a German and American-run agency, and speaker at the Audio Branding event, says, “The Audio Branding Academy is the only association of its kind dedicated to promoting the art and science of audio branding. It’s been exciting for me to see how the congress has grown over the last few years.”

Audio is an immensely powerful tool for engagement, as convincingly explained by Olaf Hartmann from the Multisense Institute during his keynote, ‘The Power of Multisense.’ Hartmann explained that the pain sensor is activated when money is spent, but that lust outweighs that pain. The role of marketing is to create a perception of quality and drive lust. In an engaging speech, Hartmann demonstrated that the human brain is trained to ignore irrelevant signals and that powerful decision-making is in the subconscious.

Therefore, optimising the implicit, rather than the explicit is key for influencers. Sense is well-suited for this. Hartmann gave Apple as an example of a brand that is successfully using sense to target the subconscious. He said because the iPhone is designed in a certain way, the user strokes and pets it, forming an emotional bond. Appealing to multiple senses has a powerful impact for brands, said Hartmann. He claimed that every additional sense that is targetted increases the effectiveness of a campaign tenfold and pointed out that 75% of multisensory brands are power brands, with double the brand loyalty and double the purchase rate. Communicating through touch and movement affects the consumer; hot drinks make you more sympathetic and social and soft chairs have a proven priming effect. It has been shown that the longer a person touches something, the more they will pay for it. After all, said Hartmann, you can misinterpret language, but you can’t mis-feel.

At the Audio Branding Awards, hearing was the sense of honour. Workshops on Academy Day were followed by an Awards Day. Throughout the Awards Day, shortlisted audio branding campaigns from around the world were presented and interspersed with new composer talent. The case studies showed how major brands are already using music and audio to strengthen their overall brand strategy and the relationship that they have with their consumers.

The first award case study was presented by Dutch airline KLM and its musical partner MassiveMusic, who have worked with KLM on an entire musical strategy. Michiel Cremers, strategy director at MassiveMusic, used sound clips to show how a unique sound bite for KLM was created.

"It’s truly a global recognition of the power of sound to build brand awareness and increase consumer engagement.”

Next, the French Open, a major tennis tournament, with Sixième Son, audio branding experts, focused on sound for the sporting events sector. The audio branding professionals travelled to the world’s biggest and best events in order to identify and capture the mood and atmosphere of such occasions so that they could translate that into the sound for the French Open audio brand.

The final case study was with Åhléns City, which used sound to create an immersive world for children in its store. Margereta Andersson and Malin Isberg told the room at the Humboldt University in Berlin how they created woodland noises for the children’s department in Åhléns City, Sweden’s largest department store, a strategy which kept people in the store for longer.

The award winners were announced in the evening at an event on Berlin’s River Spree, where musicians and branding experts from around the world were able to mingle, share experiences and dissect the day’s events. Wiener Linien won the gold award, French Open won the silver and Frutarre won the bronze. Wiener Linien and its agencies, Austrian SOUND STRATEGY and German why do birds, also won the audience award, the winner of which was selected by delegate voting on the day.

After dinner, the boat’s musical talent made themselves known with a first-rate busking session, a reminder of music’s ability to bring people together and of what makes it such a valuable communications tool. Sound both gives a brand more depth of meaning and creates a more lasting and meaningful bond with its audience.

Keller says, “This year, the Audio Branding Awards was bigger and better than ever, from the Academy Day that offered presentations and workshops on topics contributing to the professional development of audio branding practitioners, to the Award Day, where we had an opportunity to honour some of the best practice cases in the business. With over 19 countries and five continents represented, it’s truly a global recognition of the power of sound to build brand awareness and increase consumer engagement.”

Both the campaigns and the young composer talent demonstrated the industry’s sophisticated approach towards audio branding across multiple applications. Audio branding has become essential for both classic marketing communications and live communications, and digital channels are becoming more and more integrated. At the end of the 2015 Audio Branding Awards, all attendees had good reason to be optimistic about both the present and the future of their industry.

Hearing, more than seeing

The value of sensory awareness is not limited to the visual, says Bruno Maag

There are two types of animal: prey and predators. Prey animals have their eyes on the sides of their head giving them a wide field of view that allows them to spot predators more easily. Predators have their eyes toward the front to focus on their prey. Humans are predators and we largely rely on our eyes to navigate our environment. When we take a moment and close our eyes we become much more aware of our other senses: hearing, touch, smell, taste.

That humans regard vision as the primary sense is interesting considering that hearing is the first sense to develop in the womb, at around eight weeks. People with good eyesight forget that their hearing is as vital to survival as their eyes. Advertisers and branding professionals harness the power that lies in sound and use it to subliminally affect our decision making.

Many brands today use sound as a brand identifier, and it is often as compelling as the logo itself. There are not many people who couldn’t name Intel when hearing the very distinct four note sound or the ‘bong’ of a Macintosh computer at start-up. Sound is powerful and works at a visceral level evoking deep emotions.

Hearing allows us to register if someone is happy or sad, agitated or calm when they speak to us. The sound of their voices gives us as many clues as the messages themselves. Actors and politicians understand this very well and use it carefully to manipulate our emotions and actions. Brands use voices carefully, alongside their other sound elements, to affect behaviour. Hearing is precious to them; think about that next time you turn up the volume of your earphones.

Bruno Maag is chairman of Dalton Maag


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