audio branding ROI : there’s no app for that…

A survey conducted in 2008 by Heartbeats International revealed that of the 70 managers of global brands participating, 97% thought that music could strengthen their brand. In the same survey, when asked if music were an important tool for building a consistent and unique brand, 68% of the respondents answered in the affirmative.

Only 4 out of 10
brands have actually
identified how their
brand sounds. Only
2 out of 10 have
any type of audio logo.

But even with an overwhelming consensus that sound (in this case, music) in a branding context is perceived to be extremely valuable, the same survey found that only 4 out of 10 brands have actually identified how their brand sounds. Only 2 out of 10 have any type of audio logo.

Quite a discrepancy between “beliefs” and “actions.”

If these brand managers believe that audio is a key element in strengthening and building their brands, why aren’t they investing more time and resources into the strategic development and implementation of sonic assets for the brand?

Interestingly enough, the same survey offered an answer: When asked about the obstacles, 38% of those questioned said that it was hard to measure the value of the investment.

Aye. There’s the rub. As much as we intuitively understand that there’s something powerful about the way sound can impact our emotions, cement associations and enhance our experiences, there’s still that “bottom line.” For most managers, it all comes down to the numbers.

So we are left to wrestle with the questions: How can you measure the effectiveness of a particular audio branding strategy? Are there predictive metrics that can be used to help make more objective decisions as you develop that strategy?

Unfortunately, there’s not an app for that.

But there’s hope. In reality, there is more research on the subject out there than you might think. Considering the ROI should be a part of the equation. Audio branding pioneer Noel Franus offers an example of what can happen when you don’t:

Quick example: a recent Barclaycard commercial featuring the Bellamy Brothers’ Let Your Love Flow. It’s a brilliant, whimsical commercial with nice song that fits the spot dead-on.

As an investment, though, the returns would be questionable as it can’t grow sustainable mindshare. First, it’s borrowed equity. Barclaycard doesn’t own that music license outright. It will perform its temporary campaign role and eventually disappear. Second, the company isn’t leveraging this music extensively across other touchpoints. While they do score points for encouraging people to buy the music from their website, it should scale across the company’s brandscape — into other interactive touchpoints, contactless payments/POP, call centres, etc. These lack any identifiable sonic coherence, despite a strong visual brand coherence.

The costs for deploying this audio? Millions. And the return? Let’s not go there. Of course nobody intentionally wants these unknowns, but that’s what many companies are paying for without measuring the impact of the spend. Contrast that with the iconic British Airways composition (the Flower Duet from Delibes’ opera Lakme), which is instantly recognizable in whole or in part and has spoken for the brand for decades across a variety of customer touchpoints.

The body of data that can help a brand make smarter choices is continuing to grow. A recent article in “The Street”, a leading online financial news trade, cited examples of global brands that have used audio logos as part of a sound business strategy. Pun intended. And more recently, The Economic Times reported that sensory branding (including the use of sound) is gaining ground as a viable strategy to stay top of mind with consumers.

The increasing adoption of audio branding strategies by major brands is a positive sign, but it still doesn’t help tip the ROI scale with any real metrics. It takes time and resources to create and execute these kinds of measurement tools. The good news is that there are companies out there who are pushing forward, developing metrics designed to help brands make better audio choices and quantify the effectiveness of the audio branding strategies they execute. Here at iV, we’re trying to do our part by pushing for more robust metrics to evaluate audio assets in the context of brand identity and consumer perception.

In future posts, we’ll take the time to examine some interesting research both past and present. Of course, the beauty of the research model is that results are meant to be shared so that the community can learn from them, build on them and discover even more effective solutions. So we’d love your contributions along the way…ideas, thoughts, experiences, links…share ‘em!

Who knows. Maybe one day there will be an app for that.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 17, 2011 at 3:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Audio Branding is so important!

One Trackback

  1. […] iV interactive …musings on audio branding, music, marketing and anything else that strikes our fancy Skip to content about iVabout steve kellerabout uli reese « audio branding ROI : there’s no app for that… […]

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