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What is audio branding? Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director, PH Media Group explains how sound can play a major role in shaping customer perceptions of the security industry.
Given first impressions are vital, visual branding is usually at the fore of security firms’ marketing strategies. Effective visual marketing will tell customers what they need to know about your organisation, communicating company values and influencing buying behaviour. However, sound works in exactly the same way yet many businesses still overlook the importance of how their company sounds. Primarily this means the voice and music heard by customers over the telephone but could easily apply to radio and television advertising or the sounds heard by customers on an organisation’s premises.
If a customer calls to make an enquiry, their ears are their only tool for formulating an initial judgement, so it is imperative to create a positive lasting impression through sound.
Sound and the subconscious
As one of our most powerful senses, hearing has a strong effect on our subconscious, making it effective in grabbing attention and sparking brand recognition.
Simply using the wrong tone of voice, inappropriate music or an impolite manner can present a detrimental image of a company, which is ultimately difficult to shake.
Consequently, it is important to consider the emotional response generated by any sound, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
This is particularly important in the use of on-hold marketing – the tailored voice and music messages designed to communicate key marketing messages to callers whenever they are put on hold or transferred. A study of 3,630 UK companies found security firms put callers on hold for an average of 33.56 seconds per call, longer than the national average, which means the sounds heard by customers during this time are essential in moulding their perceptions.
What a voice says about your company
Rather than first choosing voice and music then trying to make it fit – which is a round peg, square hole scenario – consider what the existing branding says about your company and then work forward.
Research has found the most popular voice used in the security industry is female, aged between 45 and 55, and warm, clear and intelligent in tone. A female voice is largely perceived as soft, soothing and welcoming, so such a profile helps to reassure customers and make them feel welcome, while reinforcing a sense of dedicated service and expertise.
A masculine voice, on the other hand, is generally perceived as professional and authoritative, so might be equally appropriate. It all comes down to the tone the individual business is hoping to strike.
Using regional dialects in audio branding can help a business which prides itself on a strong presence in a certain area. By employing an accented voice, it can provide a customer with a sense of belonging, helping them to identify with the company and making them more likely to invest trust.
Choosing the right musical accompaniment
However, voice does not work in isolation and it is also important to choose the right music to further strengthen the image being portrayed.
Choosing a popular piece of music for audio branding is risky, given many people will already have preconceived ideas and emotions attached to certain songs. If the song reminds them of a bad memory, this will instantly taint their impression of the company.
Like with voice, an existing music track shouldn’t be made to fit a new purpose to convey a message it was never intended to. By creating a new, bespoke tune, it is guaranteed to be unique to your business and ensures it perfectly complements the existing brand values.
In such cases, a branding expert can help pick the right volume, tempo and pitch to communicate an emotional meaning rather than the personal experience of the individual. Research has shown, for example, that the security industry tends to opt for music which is motivated and corporate. Each tiny element has an effect on the overall feel of a piece.
Avoiding fatigue to create a lasting impression
Have you ever listened to a song so much that you got sick of it?
This goes for audio messages too. If a customer hears the same sound each time they call a company, they will simply switch off and the messages become meaningless.
Businesses must ensure their content is kept refreshed in order to avoid sound fatigue and keep callers up-to-date. With on-hold marketing, communications can be tweaked at any time, making sure activity reflects changes in opening times, additional security services or even newly-gained accreditations.
Audio branding is considered less intrusive and assertive than bold visual advertising, working as a powerful marketing tool to subconsciously plant the seed for purchasing.
Considering the positive, lasting impression it creates, audio branding shouldn’t apply solely to businesses paying for expensive television or radio spots but to firms of all sizes.