AV123 - an audiovisual show by Voice123

Why is Sonic Branding essential for audiovisual success?

June 20, 2024 Voice123 Season 1 Episode 4
Why is Sonic Branding essential for audiovisual success?
AV123 - an audiovisual show by Voice123
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AV123 - an audiovisual show by Voice123
Why is Sonic Branding essential for audiovisual success?
Jun 20, 2024 Season 1 Episode 4
Voice123

AV123 - an audiovisual show powered by Voice123 - the largest and most trusted network to hire voice actors for any voice over project.

Sign up for free to bring your AV projects to vocal life!


Listen up! This week, Stew Redwine, the VP of creative services at Oxford Road - a leading advertising agency for all things audio - tells you why your AV projects need Sonic Branding!

Sonic branding is a powerful marketing tool in 2024 - but how can strategic use of sound elevate your AV projects and brand, create memorable experiences, and drive customer loyalty?

Listen to this week's episode to get sonic branding tips and insights to harness the power of sound to make a lasting impact!

Need a voice actor to bring your AV project to life?

Sign up for free and search for the best vocal pros! Or book a free call with a Key Account Manager to get project advice & learn about A-to-Z project management, curated voices, translation, and more!


Want to be featured on the show? Reach out to us at avshow@voice123.com

Send us a Text Message.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

AV123 - an audiovisual show powered by Voice123 - the largest and most trusted network to hire voice actors for any voice over project.

Sign up for free to bring your AV projects to vocal life!


Listen up! This week, Stew Redwine, the VP of creative services at Oxford Road - a leading advertising agency for all things audio - tells you why your AV projects need Sonic Branding!

Sonic branding is a powerful marketing tool in 2024 - but how can strategic use of sound elevate your AV projects and brand, create memorable experiences, and drive customer loyalty?

Listen to this week's episode to get sonic branding tips and insights to harness the power of sound to make a lasting impact!

Need a voice actor to bring your AV project to life?

Sign up for free and search for the best vocal pros! Or book a free call with a Key Account Manager to get project advice & learn about A-to-Z project management, curated voices, translation, and more!


Want to be featured on the show? Reach out to us at avshow@voice123.com

Send us a Text Message.

Carel:

Hello, and yes, I'm Carel, host of AV123, an audiovisual show powered by Voice123, the largest, most trusted voiceover network where you can hire any voice actor for any AV project. In this episode, we're chatting with Stew Redwine, the VP of Creative Services at Oxford Road Advertising Agency, about performance audio and the importance of sonic branding.

Stew:

It is the intentional and strategic way in which a brand chooses to show up distinctly and consistently in audio.

Carel:

Yep, Stew Redwine really is as great as he sounds, so stay right where you are, okay? Stew Redwine of Oxford Road Advertising Agency, welcome back! Welcome to AV123.

Stew:

Thank you.

Carel:

Now on your landing page, right, you say that you are pioneers of performance audio. What does that mean exactly?

Stew:

Well what that means is, really goes back to the beginning of the agency which was, we were making ads work in local radio. The company was founded out of a team at iHeart, media that was making ads work tremendously well for people in Los Angeles. And right around that time, there was this new thing that had kind of popped up. I mean, those of us who really know the history of podcasting know it's, it's older than this, but it was starting to become viable and you had serial. In those days to go like, Hey, there's this new thing where you can pay Adam Corolla to read ads for you. And, all of a sudden there was this new channel that was opened up. So the pioneering aspect of it has always been from those very beginning days there at iHeart of like, Hey, we're making the ads work in audio on terrestrial radio. Here's this new thing called podcasts. Let's see if maybe we can make the ads work for people over there. And turns out our timing, you know, sometimes you're smart, sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you work hard. I think at Oxford Road, we combine all of those things. But there's a massive luck component that we're in the right place at the right time to help these DTC brands work with people like Adam Corolla. You know, you name it back in those days to scale into this new channel that was growing and that's the pioneering and where it's gone from there is to go, Hey, smart speakers, smart speaker campaigns. How do we make an ad that's conversational or how do we contextualize audio to all the different places where that people can interact with their audio and their Tesla or whatever, wherever you name it? Like that's how it started to go. What are these new worlds and these new ways that we communicate in audio and we've just, we've continued on that path as it's a really exciting time for audio as audios continue to grow.

Carel:

Over the past 15 years say, podcasting has really become a thing hasn't it? Why is that do you think, why? I mean there are even some, and it was a topic that I touched on with Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable who said that there is still a lot of life in traditional radio, but a lot of my friends in radio are saying they're worried that podcasting might replace it.

Stew:

Yeah, I think that, so the general arc of content is from broadcast to on demand. So that'd be the general, like if I was writing the historical entry on this in a hundred years, it was like, we saw a shift in how media was consumed from broadcasting to all, you know, digital really, what is that? It's on demand. Okay. So on demand audio is really what we're talking about. So that's why podcasting is so narrow because it was on an iPod and then, you know, and then it's podcasting, but really what we're talking about, really, is on demand audio. So, that's grown because our ability to do that as people with technology has grown, our ability to do more on demand audio. I also want to say, though, I was pausing there because I think there's another macro trend at play. Which is these, these things and I'm like talking to you with your fantastic accent. I want to say these devilish devices and it seems like, like you would say it perfectly. Anyway, yeah, but the screens, man, the research on these particularly personal screens.

Carel:

I was just going to tell our listeners that you're waving your mobile at me.

Stew:

Yeah, yeah, I am. I'm waving it at you. I'm waving it at you. As he waves his mobile phone in the air. Yeah. These things are nasty. They're good, but they're also nasty. And the research continues, particularly, like, I'm a dad of two high school daughters, like, you know, there's plenty of research on, you know, keep these things away from your teenage daughters, basically. Self esteem issues and all that kind of stuff. But, in general, we all kind of know, like, you know, doom scrolling and what zombies these screens can turn us into, that I think there's a shift away from screens, particularly the personalized screen. I think that that's a macro thing that's happening in the cultural unconscious of like, you know, a virus to me, these things cause more harm than good. So that makes it viral and bad for the species. The species is going to self correct. It's going to go, okay, these bad, I need to go to things that are good. Well, audio is good. Another thing at play, why you, you're asking, why is podcast growing? I'm giving you a long answer, but I believe in all three of these things, one is digital on demand audio. So that, that is a macro trend too, I think there's a survival instinct shift away from screens to audio. And I think we're beginning to see that three, the proliferation also related to technology, you have better speakers in the home, better speakers on our ears that was supercharged by the pandemic. So like all of those together is my answer to go. That is why podcast is growing, but fundamentally does it replace? Owning a tower that I have to hype a bunch of electricity to and maintain in order to send a passive signal yeah, I think it does because that sounds like I I don't know what's going to happen with the towers and I don't know what's going to happen with those passive broadcast signals. But man, in on demand dynamic audio sounds, just if we step back from it, and I know people's jobs are on the line and all of that and there's traditions in place and we just step back from it. We go. Yeah. I mean, obviously this one eventually will supplant that one.

Carel:

Yeah.

Stew:

It's just what is the road to get there?

Carel:

So in terms of approach, right? What sets Oxford Road apart from other advertising agencies?

Stew:

I, believe a couple of things. One is look, we're focused on audio. So we're boutique in that sense of we're focused specifically on audio where my mind, when it first was just stacking us up against other audio advertisers. But I think that's massive. Like we're specialists in audio. We were born in audio. That's what we have done and continue to do so very, very specialized in, in audio, which has its place to where media messaging and measurement where everything combined, right? So how we make the ads work, the schedule, your attribution, where does it fit into the larger comm strategy? So you're going, okay, Oxford Road specialist, audio agency, where it's full service, I'm able to get all of it. And then the last piece would be the way I think of it, we try harder because I know how we stack up. Is it we go nine miles deep in each discipline and we take each discipline deadly serious and if someone were to pop up the hood of Oxford Road against like, let's say our direct competitors, I don't have to say, like, they can look for themselves and go like, Oh, wow, that's interesting. You have a 71 point checklist to construct an audit creative based on performance. My competitor, our competitors do not.

Carel:

All right. Now, because I'm a voice actor, let's talk about sonic branding from your viewpoint as a creative, how do you define it exactly? And how do you get your clients to buy into it.

Stew:

How do I define sonic branding is that it is the intentional and strategic way in which a brand chooses to show up distinctly and consistently in audio, which is a big, like, a lot of, a lot of words, but those are all intentional words, right? So we can take it apart. Is that it's intentional, it's intentionally designed. It's strategic. I find that the best sonic brands are the ones that come most readily to mind, which is one aspect of their sonic branding, but let's say Intel Inside or Netflix or TikTok any of the ones that are household names amongst us that do this stuff, McDonald's, Home Depot were all very intentionally and strategically designed and when I know I'm just banding about the word strategic, strategy is a strategy. An intentional way in which to achieve a goal, right? A large business goal or communications goal. Like, so you could just say the way a branch shows up in audio is sonic branding. And I think that actually kind of is true. I just like to kind of further define it as going, you can intentionally do something, but not be strategic about it. So, so it's like, okay, we know we want to do this. Okay, what's our strategy and the way to do this? And then I believe for my definition of sonic branding, you need to be distinct and then you need to be consistent. And if you marry all of that together, that to me is sonic branding. 96 percent of consumers are more likely to remember a brand paired with music that fits its identity. That would be an intentional aspect of sonic branding. Sonic cues deliver 86 percent correlation between the subconscious emotional appeal of a sound and our conscious desire. And I've got a point here. Okay. When only 16 percent of advertising is remembered and correctly attributed and sonic brand cues deliver seven times better recall than all other brand cues, the table is set to ensure everyone can see your brand even when their eyes are closed. So that's the setup is like. Oh, of course you would be using sonic brand cues. This gets to your second question. Well, why is it so hard? You know, how do you convince people to do it? I don't very successfully for some reason That's the truth. Even with all of that and everything you and I just went through it is a challenging proposition and I think it's just we're so, here's the thing, audio is actually your first sense Because it's the quickest, it's faster even than touch touch your own hand and that gets to your brain slower, your survivor brain slower than the sounds I'm making, right? So sound is our first sense, it colors all other senses, it's all, it's 360 degrees, it's on 24/ 7. We actually are very sonically driven, but it's freaking invisible, and, and vision is our dominant procedural sense.

Carel:

Yes.

Stew:

So I find convincing people, you're trying to use the language to talk about this thing that we have no way of representing and so it gets that you can put all the facts before them. You can rep it, but then it's kind of like, okay, well then what are we, how do we define that and how do we begin work and, and, and we can get people to start work on it. But then like the revision, and anybody who's ever dabbled in this will tell you like the revision process on music for you, for your work, like picking voices, it just gets so subjective so quickly that it's very difficult to keep moving towards the goal.

Carel:

What would you say are the key elements that make up an effective sonic brand?

Stew:

So are we talking like if we had like actual tactical executions?

Carel:

If I were to come in to you and say, I need your help. Now, are you going to help me?

Stew:

I think the first thing is actually to define. How you want to show up. And so what I mean by that basic, like to make it simple and be like, well, how do we want people to feel when they hear our brand? And I think many brands would have similar answers, but there would be some nuance there, right? So, you know, how does Apple want to make somebody feel versus how does Ford want to make somebody feel. Okay? Why do you want to use sonic branding or we just want to capture more market share? Or we need to get people to take action or we want to elevate our brand. So let's so like that big business goal would be the first thing I'd want to kind of go after. And, how, how, well first it would be like, how in general do you want people to feel about your brand. Like honestly, we want people to feel good. I mean, it's, there's more to it than that. So like, how do you want people to feel about your brand? Okay, great. Let's define that real quick. What is the goal you're trying to assess here? We're trying to achieve here from a business goal or maybe a communications goal. Well then, depending on what the answers to those things would be are, your sonic brand may compose of, a jingle and a song, an anthem that we then build out and change over time, over the seasons, or for you, for your goal, the best thing might be, honestly, guys, it sounds like for what you're trying to do, you need to, do you have a UX sound yet? Like in your app? I'm thinking of somebody in particular here. Well, no, we don't. Okay, but you're you're an app you drive people to use your app people interact with your app like one basic thing for them would be let's make a sound that people now begin to associate with using your app.

Carel:

Yes.

Stew:

And then let's use that app. So I'm saying it depends but I would say the most basic pieces in general would be let's define the business goal or communications goal. Hopefully it's ultimately a business goal. How do we want people to feel, business goal, communications goal? Okay, then in that case, we are going to use consistent music, use consistent voices, and then perhaps have a UX sound, have a mnemonic of some kind, a mnemonic with a mention of the company name, mnemonic with a tagline. And then beyond that, perhaps go into exploring a character of some kind or something. But that's the hierarchy I would move through.

Carel:

Given the fact that there are so many variables in the equation, let me ask you this, it's quite a humdinger. How do you ensure that a sonic brand is cohesive and then integrates well with a brand's visual and overall marketing strategy?

Stew:

It's design principles. It's just knowing that I need it to be. So the first thing you'd want to do, I think, to answer that question would be. Do you guys have a visual brand guide? Most likely the answer is going to be yes. Right? Yeah. First step is like, write that for audio. And then we might go like, Oh yeah, we know that in audio, we want voices that sound like our target, whatever that target is. And it happens to be, you know, swanky guys in Cape town, South Africa. Then they know the exact voice they need to cast, but you define it. I mean, I think that that's, so it's going, do we have a sonic brand guide? We have a visual brand guide now is defined as sonic brand guide. And then make sure you have someone, somewhere involved in the ecosystem. You know, maybe it's an agency. Obviously, I'm a fan of agency because I think it gets you this other lens and agent and advocate for yourself and your goals, but get at least get someone, a consultant or something to check your thinking to make sure you're not believing your own BS as a brand to go like, I've got my visual brand here. We defined a sonic brand to be cohesive and congruent with that. What you don't want to have happen is that insulated thinking that can occur to any of us in any organization that we're like, yeah, this is good. This is congruent. Someone from the outside looks at it and they go, what? So, I would say define it and make sure you check your thinking with an outsider.

Carel:

Speaking of outsiders looking or listening in, let me ask our listeners quickly. Are you an audio producer? Do you know Voice 123 has an AV resource center with everything from filmmaking hacks to video game guides? No? Then visit www. voice123. com forward slash blog or click the link in the description. And with that, it's back to you, Stew. Is visual branding more or less important than sonic branding?

Stew:

Equally. I'd say it's equally.

Carel:

All right. So if one were to marry the two, can you walk us through a typical creative process at Oxford Road from say, initial concept with me coming in as the swanky guy from Cape Town.

Stew:

Yes. The swanky guy.

Carel:

And, to final execution.

Stew:

And we're talking sonic branding or are we talking just our general creative process?

Carel:

Sonic branding. I have a radio face. Let's just talk sonic branding.

Stew:

Yeah. And I want to say, they're equally important because they're both functioning to achieve the same things to me, which are the ones that I keep in front of mine are from System One's lens on advertising. I have all these, I'm pointing at things on my wall, which are all these different model models of advertising, but I really like System One's and that, like, what is advertising trying to achieve? It's a widget. It's a thing. So what does it function to do? And that is to increase fame, fluency, and feeling, right? So you're more famous, people understand you better, and they feel good about you. So who do you think of first and feel the best about? That's who you're going to transact with, right? Yes. So that's the lens I look at advertising through. So fluency then visual and sonic and any other cue smell, smell a vision, like all of it needs to help increase fluency. That's why I say they're all equally important because they're all serving fluency. And then hopefully serving feeling and fame. Okay, so to get your question, since we are primarily in sonic land, but like, look, we just did a cross channel campaign for one of our advertisers where we synchronized, it was television, audio, out of home stuff, mailers, like, everything together. Cohesive first principles design principles is what business goal are you trying to achieve as high up as we can go on business goal, communication goal, right? So we have a business. What is this business doing? Where are you guys going? What, like, how does this radio ad or streaming ad fit back all the way to the mothership. Where's the business going? Understand the business goals. Okay, then within that, comms. In the entire comms system, where does this thing live? Okay, now we understand that. So , we want to fit everything back up into all these Russian nesting dolls. Then we come down to from a design principle standpoint, how are you currently showing up? Okay. Is that set? Like, this is how we're showing up. We, just did a redesign or we're in the middle of a big thing, you know, so we're doing some audience research, like those would all be things that I would go, okay, well, let's woe up. and wait to see where that lands. But let's assume we're working with somebody that's like, this is how we're showing up in visual land. We just have a blank space when it comes to audio. Well, first thing we do is do an audit of how are you showing up in audio? Cause let's say they are doing some stuff we may discover. It's like, Hey, we noticed over the last two years, like you do tend to use music and maybe we work with somebody like Amp where you do tend to use music that feels like this. Oh, that's interesting. Okay. And the voices you've used are kind of in this line. So we do this audit of them and how have they shown up in audio. And let's say they have shown up a little bit and maybe they're using a specific tagline over and over. So then we kind of go, these are the existing elements of your sonic brand. Let's check those against your visual brand. And let's also look at your competition. How is your competition showing up and where's their white space? Once we have all those pieces, then we go in the, as part of the com strategy and how we're, the problem that we're looking to show up, at the end of the day, the rubber has to hit, hit the road somewhere, right? It's like, well, here's the bottom line is there's this national radio campaign and it's going to have a streaming component and some podcast ads. Okay. So now we know what we're designing to, then it's like, well, that being the case, we've designed how we want to show up in audio against our competition, how we're already showing up now, these specific units need to achieve like, let's say if we were just looking at a funnel. Awareness, consideration, preference, purchase. Well, we want these podcast, ad reads to influence purchase. Our radio campaign is going to be really about awareness and consideration, and we're doing some streaming stuff. That's going to be preference based. Well, Hey, let's use that tagline you guys have been using. We're going to only do country western music style because it's a boot store. Let's say we're like, you know, a DC boot company. And you know, your founder has been in a lot of the spots. So we're going to have him come in at the end and say, or her have them come in at the end and say the tagline. And, you know, the one thing we're going to add to it is this mnemonic of, you know, two, two boots clicking together because you click your heels, Carol's boots, click, click, there's no place like home, right?

Carel:

Yeah.

Stew:

So that's like how a bill becomes a law.

Carel:

How important is voiceover in sonic branding?

Stew:

It's massive because, even for a voice actor, like, at the highest level, like, what, what is going on here? What are we trying to do here? Like, we need clarity. And the more clarity everyone can have on that, the better. Well, the voice is really important. That's who's conveying the message and translating that emotion you want translated. So it's gonna be huge to make sure the right emotion comes across.

Carel:

How do you measure the impact of sonic branding on consumer behavior and brand recognition?

Stew:

Brand recognition, we could do like, there's a few different ways we do, you know, pre post exposure. You could do survey based stuff. We like doing things that are in market, because it's what, you know, it's the quote. You can go back to, I'll butcher it, but it's basically people don't say what they think, they don't think what they say, and they don't do what they think, but it's, in a survey environment, everything changes, right? It doesn't completely, but there ain't nothing quite like observing the real thing. So, let's say you do an awareness, you do a pre post awareness and unaided awareness and aided awareness, for that first part of it, as far as a consumer behavior goes, you know, things have really improved when it comes to measuring audio, with pixels. There's also just, you know, directly, particularly if you're testing into audio, there's still the use of, vanity URLs or promo codes, like anything you can get to be like, is this thing on, is this thing on in audio? So that would be the way I would like to look at direct with some kind of multiplier on some sort of directional, like if it's a, you know, pixel, then direct attribution, then maybe survey based stuff. How did you hear about a survey with like a second, second layer dropdown where you go like, let's say it was podcast and then you have the names of the shows so they can pick. And then of course, you know, one out of a hundred or two out of a hundred, four out of a hundred will do that, but you can start directly to kind of get an idea of what's working when it comes to consumer behavior. And then what you would need to do is set up some sort of clean AB situation where you're going, Hey, these are the ones with sonic branding. These are the ones without to give yourself that confidence. It's having an impact. Now we're talking mostly short term, long term you would just need to keep an eye on it. And, and the truth is like, I mean, you can look at some of the latest research from Pierre Bouvard or Cumulus audio really shines long term. And so the law, and that's why I was saying in my initial definition of sonic branding, the consistency piece is key because you're going to see benefits over 12 months, 18 months, 24 months. Like that's really when you start to get the wind in your sails with sonic branding.

Carel:

So how do you measure the success of a campaign? What, sort of key metrics do you look at?

Stew:

Well, it depends on the campaign. So anywhere in the funnel, it could be from the top of funnel to the bottom of the funnel. The important part is what is the key metric you're looking at?

Carel:

Yeah.

Stew:

And how long do we have to get there? I always think it's , you know, what are we measuring and how long do we have to get there? You can run a test campaign and we're observing these creatures, these humans, and let's say we run our test campaign for three months, but we don't give them a really good reason to take action within three months. We don't tell them we're measuring them for three months. They don't know that these podcasters or voice actors that we're working with, their livelihood's on the line. We don't make it urgent enough for the listener to go like, Hey, by the way, if, you guys don't do anything in the next three months. We shut all this down. Nobody records another ad and, this thing's dead on arrival. So it's like, you have to, when you're in audio, you need to be thinking that it's like, let's say your KPIs, let's just make it easy. It's bottom funnel. It's selling boots, selling Carol's boots.

Carel:

Yes.

Stew:

That's it. Okay, great. Within that window, let's say we were doing a three month test on podcasting or maybe on streaming. Within that three month test, man, you've got to give the listener a really good reason to go buy the boots right now. Not because you're trying to be salesy. Because you're testing to go, is this thing on? And then once you get relative value, On what all the properties are worth and the fact that, oh, wow, they did respond to a very urgent message, you now can back off and you've got an idea of how well those things work, figure out what your multipliers are and start investing for the long game, but for the immediate it's particularly if you're looking bottom funnel, you've got to marry your message to the metric you're measuring.

Carel:

How's technology influencing the way you create and deliver advertising campaigns? Does it play a role? Does AI play a role?

Stew:

Absolutely. Generative text is huge, right? I like what Steve Keller at SiriusXM's Studio Resonate talks about is it's augmented intelligence. So the power of ChatGPT or Anthropics Clawed to use as like a writing partner or to break through and just like do a bunch of early drafts, like use it like a writer's room, I find is incredibly helpful to get to the short list of ideas that then beget better ideas that we can base on the strategy and the comms. But it's like, I'm finding the generative AI, this is from a tech standpoint, is really helpful at getting through that initial, like hard stage of just like let's get all the bad ideas out there like I joke around a lot I'm but a midwife to greatness like all my bad ideas just beget good ideas from you guys which I really do believe. So it helps you do that first round of like Hey, give me a hundred ideas. It's good. Yes, sir. You know, it has no problem doing that and then you can, you can then curate and it hopefully it gets you to this stuff that then we can engage our brains and be thinking of like, okay, how does this all going to fit in there.

Carel:

So what future trends do you foresee in the field of sonic branding? No, let me rephrase that, where would you like to see it go?

Stew:

Where I would like it to go. And I don't know if it's, you know, if it's you, if it's me, whoever it is, somebody figures out how to break through that blockage to go, Hey, this is crucial and critical that when we're designing our brand guide, that there's a section for, you know, we've got like logo photos, fonts, tone of voice, sonic branding, that it becomes part of 101 when it comes to defining your brand like that it would even be taught in classes that people that are coming into the marketing profession when they think brand guide sonic branding is part and parcel. It is part of that from day one.

Carel:

Stew Redwine of Oxford Road advertising agency. Thank you so much for joining us on AV123 And remember folks, if you ever need a vocal maestro to bring your AV projects to life, it's as easy as Voice123. Simply click on the link in the description to sign up for free and hire voice actors that can bring any AV project to life. Or add a couple of hours to your day with our A to Z project management. We'll be back with another show soon so don't forget to subscribe, comment, or let us know if you'd like to be featured on an episode of AV123. Until next time.

AV123 Intro & show blurb
Stew Redwine and Oxford Road Intro
Definition of performance Audio
The rise of ‘on-demand audio’
The problem with mobile phones
Why podcasting is on the rise and three macro consumer trends
What sets Oxford Road apart from other advertising agencies
The definition and importance of sonic branding
Why clients sometimes struggle to buy into sonic branding
Key elements of sonic branding
How to ensure the cohesiveness of branding
Voice123 promo
Which is more important - visual or sonic branding?
The purpose of advertising in the context of branding
The importance of voice over in sonic branding
How to determine the impact of sonic branding
Measuring the success of a campaign
The use of AI in the creative process
Future trends in sonic branding
Outro and Voice123 promo