Branding with Sound

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As a small business owner I read a fair amount about small business marketing.  I’ve discovered the beauty of such things as WordPress, social media, joining online forums and a range of practical web based tools that helped create my logo, business cards and the like.  It makes it easier to promote your brand consistently which is vital if you listen to the experts.  The advice seems to be to get a good logo, an avatar and color scheme and use these on your website, facebook profile, invoices, business cards and any other item that represents your brand visually.  What about other areas of business branding?

As the founder of a small voice agency and production company, I work primarily with the human voice and sound and wonder if this is an overlooked area in terms of consistency in your marketing.  We are quick to get the visual side of things aligned but what about the aural side?  What can we do to ensure this part of our business is not a hit-and-miss hodge-podge effort?   We’ve known about the importance of sounding as good as you look since well before “Milli Vanilli” handed back their Grammy award.  So how do we achieve this in our business?

Well where are we being heard? The obvious areas would be:

  • Radio and Television Advertising
  • On Hold Messages
  • IVR
  • Corporate presentations

Of course some of these may be a little off our radar if we’re just starting out but there are a variety of other far more affordable options such as:

  • Podcasting
  • Producing web commercials
  • Answering FAQs on Youtube videos
  • Keynote Presentations…

And it’s with these items that a consistent “sound” would prove valuable.

As with all other aspects of marketing, you need to invest a little time and thought into how you want to sound, it shouldn’t be an afterthought.  Think about how best to represent your brand sonically.  How can your brand personality be conveyed clearly and recognisably?  Ask yourself:

  • What type of voice suits me best – male or female?
  • Do I want to come across as an authority figure with a resonant, deep confident voice?
  • Would my brand be better served with a soft nurturing voiceover, comforting and reassuring?
  • Do I want to be perceived as cool, young and vibrant?
  • Will a zany accented voice, something quirky and irreverent work well?

Having grown up with mass media bombarding us, we all have the basic appreciation of how voice, music and soundscapes can complement or damage our brand objectives.  So don’t just getting the receptionist, the guy in sales with the deepest voice or a nephew with a microphone to “give it a go” for you.  You need to employ a professional voice over talent and the good news is it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

A brief search online will reveal many voice agencies or job sites capable of delivering what you need, some more affordable than others.  Agencies representing the top professionals are often very strict on their rates and are very protective of what their talent read, whereas some of the smaller ones tend to be more negotiable.  Don’t assume that just because they don’t cost as much as the big boys these smaller agencies aren’t up to scratch.  Many professional radio and television presenters don’t have the time to pursue voice work full time but are available from their home studios at far more affordable rates via these smaller sites.  So shop around, check prices and compare talent.  Ask for demo reads if possible.  Ask if you can hear your words in context before deciding.  It may even be possible to negotiate a reduced fee if you offer to use the same voice for all projects you put together.

So when it comes to you brand, think about fleshing it out beyond just the look and logo.  Bring it to life with a voice, music or soundscape that will linger long after in the minds of your clients.  This extra little bit of focus can go a long way in promoting the image you’ve been working hard to create.