If you read this blog enough, you know some of the topics are recurring. I don't deny that. There are some issues that are of paramount importance to radio (and the me), and hopefully by extension, to you. I certainly get an indication of that when I review the metrics.
Some posts resonate more than others, and that's OK. There are no ads here, so page views and open rates technically don't matter. And that's why I don't mind the posts that “underperform” the average. Some things need to be said IMO. It's not a popularity contest.
However, Paul often jokes there are a dozen topics I recycle in one form or another in this space. So, if he's right, let's let audio signatures be the “13th topic.” I don't write about them often. But when I do, I usually get lots of nods, but not much reaction. Most agree, but the fly in the ointment is implementation.
Most like the idea of a radio station (or show or company) creating a sound ID or signature – a way to deliver a subtle but memorable reminder of a brand, service, organization, or product.
Fred Jacobs shows radio personalities how to take their game to the next level in this webinar recording.
But coming up with an effective audio signature is a whole other issue. Most stations don't know where to start.
Coming up with just the right “sticky” sound that matches a brand's essence is hard work. It usually requires a team to suss out the dynamics of a brand, and then (somehow) translate it to a sound.
In that spirit, I've pulled a few audio clips for you. The good news is that none is more than 5 seconds long.
When it comes to creating an effective, evocative and memorable sound signature, even many of the big boys and girls have struck out. Pandora is a great example. Ostensibly with a sizable budget and a team, this is the best they came up:
Not exactly groundbreaking. And that's the case with most “sonic signatures.” They either don't match the brand, they sound obtrusive or weird, or they're just lame. When you come across a winner – the Netflix opener or Intel's tones, for example – you make the most out of it.
The HBO sounder is a good example, preceding their original programming for decades. It remains one of the best-testing audio logos out there – according to whom.
According to Veritonic.
Veritonic is a company I've written about before. I've been on panels with their team, encouraging radio to jump into this space with both feet. As the audio options multiply for consumers, it is not just helpful when a brand stands out and is instantly identifiable – it's essential. That what a great sound signature can do.
Every year, they field their Audio Logo Index, ranking these audio IDs for overall effectiveness based on criteria that include creative resonance, uniqueness, trustworthiness, and innovation. And of course, the key is association with the brand. Overall 2,800 U.S. respondents take part in the survey.
Invariably, some of the dullest verticals – like insurance – tend to occupy the top spots, but fast food restaurants (QSRs) are right up there, too. It's essential these businesses provide an effective way to showcase their brands, while making them memorable. Sound signatures are on of the tools.
The winner this year? Folger's. Their sound signature – you may call it a jingle – is the standout. Yes, you've heard it before – many times.
How is this not a jingle? Sound signatures are typically shorter, hoping to become “earworms” – getting stuck in consumers' heads.
Veritonic divides their report by business vertical, and the “entertainment” segment is especially interesting, led overall by NBC and Netflix, the most memorable brands.
A new entrant this year is Audacy, the only company with its roots in radio that Veritonic included (perhaps because they're one of the few marketing themselves this way.
While the Audacy brand debuted this year, it tested above average in “likability,” but lower in “uniqueness.” Here's their sound signature:
You can download a copy of Veritonic's study here
As brands become more sophisticated and numerous, there's a flurry of activity around getting attention – from customers and investors. Wikipedia is the newest brand to take a shot at developing a stronger identify. How often do you end up using their information – without making the association.
Fast Company's Rob Walker tells the story in “Why Wikipedia Wants a ‘Sound Logo.'” Unlike other brands who develop these short-form audio IDs, Wikipedia is doubling-down on its specialty – crowd-sourced content.
The definition of wiki is a website that allows visitors to make changes, contributions, or corrections. By design, a competition where Wikipedians come up with their concept of a sound signature fits the brand
They ran an open call for submissions, and the deadline was yesterday.
The project's has yielded some “interesting” entrants catalogued on SoundCloud. You can check them out here. One of my favorites is from Rab Music Lab called “The World In 4 Seconds.”
Whether these Wiki consumer-generated audio signatures pass muster or not, the idea of letting the site's user base create an audio signature is an interesting concept – and something a well-branded radio station could do. And listeners could vote on the finalists.
An audio signature actually created by a local listener would stand out just because. And it could create an aural point of differentiation for a radio station competing against myriad options in the audio space.
I keep hearing radio veterans tell me the medium was where audio began. And that no one knows how to create audio better than radio producers.
So, let's stop talking about it, and put it to the test.
Where's your sound signature?
Thanks to Dave Beasing and his Sound That Brands company that produces podcasts for organizations, companies, and brands.
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