When we consider effective marketing, sound isn't necessarily high on our radars. After all, it's quite a subconscious phenomena — we don't very actively think about the sense, let alone how truly effective it can be. This holds particularly true for podcast branding.
After sight, hearing is our most major sense, yet it remains an extremely overlooked element in marketing. In his book, "Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy," Martin Lindstrom writes that 41 percent of consumers consider sound a central element of brand communication.
The inability to provide consistent sound unique to your brand means you’re missing out on connecting with 41 percent of potential customers in the best possible way. And considering how dramatically media and communication have changed since his landmark book, it's entirely possible that even more consumers today consider sound a central element to a brand — and marketers can't afford to neglect that audience.
Podcasts are valuable tools, both for your audience searching for inspiration and entertainment and for your company to brand itself. And if you want your brand to be of a high standard, your podcasts must reflect that, too. You don't have to be a musical expert or an experienced sound bank creator to amp up your podcast. In addition to having great content and good speakers, here are three things to consider when sound branding your podcast:
The first and most simple thing you can do to sound brand your podcast is to make sure it's recorded and mixed well. While this might sound self-evident, the amount of poor-quality podcasts out there has proven it isn't as common sense as we'd like to think.
No matter what speech you're recording, the voice should be clear at a steady volume with no room echo. There are plenty of reliable, small microphones with a direct plugin to your smart phone or computer to get a clean, close-up sound. Recording with your computer’s built-in microphone just won’t work because it catches all the background noise and room echo, too.
Remember to also check the balance between your podcast speakers' voices. Your listener should never have to adjust the volume between different speakers — if that’s the case, you haven’t done your job mixing the podcast. There are several easy-to-use and even free tools to create and mix your podcast.
With at least 41 percent of consumers considering sound a central element of brand communication, music can be an essential tool. Not only can music be used throughout your brand's channels, but it can also help your audience connect more quickly to your content and support the emotion you want them to feel.
Good musical choices can help increase the impact of your communication, but if the message is contradictory, the effect can be the opposite. So, either use background music appropriately, or leave it out.
Ensure that the volume of that background music is high enough to create the desired atmosphere, but low enough that your speakers' voices are clear and your audience isn't distracted from the content they're presenting. While background music is important, it's still just background music.
Melodic themes and audio logos can bring the podcast some much-needed structure. Like sub-headings in an article or chapters in a book, short musical breaks give your podcast rhythm and structure. Just like Disney’s old audio books — “When you hear this sound, it’s time to turn the page!” — you make it easier for the listener to focus on and remember the topic.
In case you use both background music and these jingles in your podcast, they should all support the same sonic identity — just like your visual elements, such as fonts and colors, do on every platform. The background music and the melodies should be based on the same feelings, harmonies, and sounds to really make it all fit together.
Podcasts are a great way to combine creative content marketing and audio branding. It’s good to remember that sound is not just music — it’s all the sounds made in the name of your brand, consciously or unconsciously.
So, think about your brand. What are the key emotions you're trying to evoke? What is the action you're trying to elicit from your audience? Use music and sound as amplifiers.
As you look at all of the formats for content available to you and plan your next series of podcasts, make the most of it. Create congruent sound to emphasize your brand values and emotions seamlessly. Also, remember that consistent sound goes beyond podcasts; audio can help streamline every aspect of your marketing.
How do you utilize sound in the most effective way in your marketing?
Teemu Yli-Hollo is an entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of Audiodraft, a global production platform for custom audio. Audiodraft works with advertising agencies and production companies around the globe and represents more than 20,000 composers and sound designers from more than 120 countries. The company is redefining how audio is ordered, produced, and used in the creative industries.