• Transform magazine
  • February 29, 2024


Aural sculpture – next year brands will shape virtual sounds of the future

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Vijay Iyer, CEO North America of sonic brand agency, amp, explores the 2022 trends in audio branding. These include how brands will extend their sonic brand strategies into virtual worlds and how sound branding will embrace the 'phygital' space.

In 2021 amp predicted a rise in investment in audio branding and audio-focused content. As many brands shifted to more immersive digital storytelling and e-commerce, the role of sound in branding across all industries has significantly changed.

New audio only channels with many major social and music platforms now offering or working on Clubhouse equivalents, the continued rise of podcasts and the rapid growth of TikTok all further fuelled the importance for brands to have a more consistent approach on how to show up sonically.

As we step in to 2022, we can't escape the conversations around the Metaverse. Although there is a long path from a channel-based internet to an immersive one, we believe we can already see new opportunities emerging for sound.

In the next year we expect to hear more about: designing sounds for immersive experiences; sound branding will embrace ‘phygital;' sounds like an NFT and short context sound and music.

Designing sounds for immersive experiences

While Mark Zuckerberg plans to translate Facebook into the Metaverse other brands will begin to consider how the leap from a channel-based internet to an immersive one will influence their business and relations with consumers.

The Metaverse is still some years away, but we expect brands to accelerate investment in more immersive connections with consumers. Expect to hear sound branding play a key role in immersive or virtual experiences that brands create.

For example, Louis Vuitton is signalling the path ahead, creating a virtual world game providing an experience in which beautiful sound design plays a pivotal part. As this trend continues, brands will need consistent and recognisable audio branding to maintain consistency and recognisability across channels.

In 2022 we expect brands to think seriously about extending their sonic brand strategies into virtual worlds, considering the role that identifiable and reassuring sound and music can play in virtual marketing, transactions and service provision.

Sound branding will embrace ‘phygital’

We expect to hear brands embrace the concept of ‘phygital’ experiences, translating brand sound and music from digital channels (and ultimately the metaverse) to the physical world and back again.

Brands are beginning to explore the implications of the phygital world. For example, Pernod Ricard published a report with The Face and Mixmag looking at the future of digital technology fusing with hospitality and clubbing. The concept of a phygital club, using live streams and VR experiences is considered a serious alternative to purely live experiences.

These ideas suggest brands must start to consider phygital as a united realm through which brand marketing including their audio presence must work seamlessly.

Over the coming year we expect sound branding and music to play a central role in phygital brand experiences.

Sounds like an NFT

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are beginning to be seen by some as an important part of the transactional infrastructure of our digital lives. Using blockchain technology, they enable value and ownership to be attached to a digital entity, whether that’s an avatar, gaming properties or digital art.

They are also beginning to influence the music world. Individuals within the music industries have already sold NFTs.

The idea that consumers could digitally own unique output from musicians as an NFT signals interesting opportunities for brands. For example, allowing brands to work directly with artists themselves to create material to be used in marketing or promotions. Or brands might create and sell branded audio or immersive experiences.

We expect brand NFTs to make the transition from concept to audio reality in 2022.

Short context sound and music

The rise of TikTok is indicative of how short-form music memes and hashtags are the currency of daily interaction with friends and family. People are using sound as a primary tool to virtually talk to each other and express their feelings.

TikTok has established a powerful influence over the music industry with 15 second video segments of some songs registering billions of views. Sound branding can make a brand stick out on TikTok in the sea of overused, familiar music and also evoke an intimate bond with their customers.

In 2022 we predict brands will experiment more with short-form music and branded sound that works across a 15-second format brevity will become increasingly important in a world shaped by people’s scrolling attention spans and desire for passing entertainment and stimulus.

The spectrum of opportunities for brands to engage with people is widening and not only crossing borders between physical and digital realms but also mixing together different elements of our daily experiences.

Music and branded audio experiences will, we believe, play a pivotal role in enabling people to recognise, trust and enjoy brand experiences in emerging, immersive media and technology. 2022 will mark the start of an exciting period of experimentation in sonic branding and marketing.