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a ala LL ee Sound reasoning: optimising your business with sound Michael Spencer, MD of corporate communications via sound specialist, Sound Strategies, shares hot hints on how to use audio to buff up your brand ‘esearch has shown that effective ‘communication involves 50 per ‘cont visual elements and 50 per ‘cent aural elements. Yet our own research shows that less than five per cent of companies correctly ‘optimise their marketing communicati activity for effective use of voice, music ‘and other sounds. ‘The aural side~ particularly speech ~ ‘an be critical to good elent-reations in a [RE context, since audio (inthe form of peas, for example) conveys muel more: ceffectively the stats-sonsitive, prfessional- ‘tw-professional nuanees that text and ‘graphics have difficulty in signalling, Ta is, if you get itright of course! ‘Making 0 sound start Before achieving best practice audio standards, its important to be aware of your company’s existing audio ‘environment. Sound Strategies usually asks a sampling of personnel across a company ‘tn conduct a personal ‘sonic aut’ of their {day-to-ay soundscape. That means simply being aware of sound inal its operational ‘contexts and ~ erucally ~ thinking carefully about its presence. t's easy to get used to intrusive, poor ‘quality or inappropriate soundiracks our hearing is designed to filter out unwanted ‘sounds very quickly since we can’t close ‘our ears like we close aur eyes or look savay. Sonic ues are designed to re. sersitse stall to the presence ~ wanted or ‘otherwise ~ of sourid and music in the ‘workplace and in all eommunieation and marketing channels. Once you have started to listen again, sk yourself the follewing questions: + How do you cureently use sound to amplify your brand positioning? + What is its context and parpose? + Ifyou do use auto, at what point of the design process does it start to kick in? AS with Cinderela, sound needs to be moved (out ofthe kitchen and go tothe ball with her cwo sisters, copy and design, Don't leave tas an afterthought + Do you maintain the same production values and processes of evaluation as you ‘would with your visual identity? + Are you consistent in the type of ‘sounds/muse you use across your communications platforms? + Does the music at your conference _synergise with that on your website? + Do your compary’s telephone voiees and ranersrelect the stabs of your product. and company’? “audio conveys much more effectively the status- sensitive, professional-to- professional nuances that text and graphics have difficulty in signalling” Michael spencer, M0, Sound Statecies Audio best practice ‘To complement the visual image of the ‘company’ you should apply the same production values. Make the audio selection a part of your positioning process not an add-on, Don't be seduced by cheap foffhe-shelf solutions that wil ulimately ‘make you appear corumonplace. Cheek to see that you maintain differentiation with [Your competitors; we have found many instances where companies use remarkably similar soured tracks. ‘Think strategically and select cio, samples that will stand the test of tm and Dull a lasting association (thnk of dhe Enitish Airways commercials). Live with _your proposed audio selection fora time before making the final decision, and test it ina number of different siniations. Typesofaudio The auco environment can be divided into theee main 1635: + The sonic presence of your cmmpany: auto logos jingles, signature tunes and other signals which can appear across the whole range of marketing platforms, including the Internet, 1 trade fais and video comme, + Occasional and background music use! or enhancing the mood, Again across the entire range of patorms, but unlike ‘sonic ident it Is more kel to be chosen to it the ocasion rather than 35a stable element ofthe product image * Speed thisindudes accent, clay tone, use of language and awareness of the audience, whether a single person on the iter end ofthe telephone or several hundred delegates at a conference. Reiain from using sounds that are intrusive wheter in dynamic level (Loo Jouel oF oo quiet), ints application, or in its quality of reproduction. Check that you use consistent sound levels across your ‘webste. Don't ‘ambush’ your visors with ‘expected bursts of audio content, and remember that too much musical backing ‘bhi detalled spoken information reduces the memorabilityof the information Tn order to ereate a business-like and Inviting atmosphore around the company’s presence a its premises, conferences, trade fairs, on the web or on other media, ‘you should frst think of the context in ‘whl it is being used and! the message {Your elients want to hear, nl be eautious that your ov musical persuasions are not overly influential How will you know if it works? Appropriate use of sound on websites lnluences the dwelltime of users. We say tht appearance is everything, but that also applies to sound. Althouglt we may not ala’ be able to explain why, poorly chosen or controlled soured can have the sane effect asa slain on shit front, michael spencerasound:strategescouk