teaching an old dog new tricks : radio as an audio branding touch point


An audio brand is only as good as its implementation. For all the hours devoted to the strategy, research and testing that contribute to creating audio assets for a brand, it’s meaningless without a strategy focused on implementing the audio brand as consistently as possible, as often as possible and in as many contexts as possible.

The “contexts” part of that equation refers to what we call “touch points”: the medium or point of contact through which the audio brand is delivered. In the past, these touch points were usually limited to more traditional broadcast mediums, like television and radio. Today, technology is rapidly opening up new possibilities for the use of audio at point of sale, in sonically isolated environments, via mobile applications and immersive 3D soundscapes – just to name a few.

With the excitement that comes from seeing all these new audio touch points, it’s easy to dismiss the power that still remains in more traditional mediums. The fact is, technological advancements offer us an opportunity to explore new ways to engage consumers through classic touch points.

Radio is a perfect example. As a traditional broadcast medium, it remains a valuable tool for delivering an audio brand (as a recent study by Katz Marketing Solutions demonstrates.) When we combine radio’s ability to deliver an audio message with innovative thinking and new technologies – well, here are a few examples of what can happen:

Don’t just hear the coffee. Smell it. Dunkin’ Donuts fitted busses in Seoul, South Korea, with atomizers that would dispense the aroma of coffee when triggered by a radio advertisement. People on the bus would hear the Dunkin’ Donuts “jingle” playing over the radio – and then literally “smell the coffee.” The result? During the campaign, traffic to Dunkin’ Donuts stores increased by 16% and sales went up 29%. In addition to the demonstrated ROI, the creative pairing of audio branding (the Dunkin’ Donuts audio logo delivered via the radio was the trigger for the atomizer), smell and visuals (there were pictures of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee posted in bus stops to re-inforce the message) won a Bronze Lion in the media category at the 2012 Cannes Lions festival.

Deliver content to mobile devices. Shazam has already demonstrated its ability to engage consumers by applying their technology to broadcast mediums. The technology creates a way for your audio brand to not only deliver content to your ears – but to your mobile device as well. Shazam a branded radio spot – and get a coupon in return. While Shazam requires an internet connection to work, Signal 360 has developed a platform to deliver content to mobile devices using high frequency signals that are inaudible to humans, coupled with the functionality of new beacon technology. The content can range from a promotion to a link to more information about the brand.

It’s not a radio. It’s a mosquito repellent. In another creative use of high frequency sound, Brazilian travel magazine, Go Outside, planned a promo with a local radio station in Sao Paulo that would literally turn the radio into a mosquito repellant. The station played a 15 kHz sound that was inaudible to humans but which has been shown to repel mosquitoes (to mosquitoes, the signal sounds like the buzzing of dragonfly – their natural enemy.) The creative was awarded a Radio Grand Prix at the 2012 Cannes Lions. For more about the promotion select this link.

This is a test. If you’re a hearing aid company, what better way to illustrate the need for your services than by giving an impromptu hearing test. DraftFCB Toronto devised a promotion for their client, Union Hearing Aid Centre, designed to do exactly that. Listeners were asked to listen to the soothing sounds of harp music and singing birds (or in another instance, laughing babies) and then asked how they were feeling. If you found the audio program soothing, then you’d better get your hearing checked, as throughout the ad a semi-sonic frequency of 14,000 hertz was playing. The high frequency sound is unnerving to anyone with a normal range of hearing. The creative was another Cannes Lion 2012 winner, snagging a Silver Lion in the radio category.

Hopefully these examples encourage you to think about the creative possibilities of pairing audio brand assets with other sensory and/or content delivery systems. As you consider the implementation of your audio branding strategy and the various touch points available, consider that the touch point isn’t simply a way to deliver the audio brand. It also has the potential of becoming an extension of the brand message itself.

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