Part 2: The Power of Sensory Branding—What You Hear

Last week Joe Gunderson discussed the power of visual branding and how healthcare consumers visually experience a brand. This week I’d like to discuss another powerful sensory branding tool often overlooked in healthcare marketing—sound. Also referred to as audio or sonic branding, it is a tool that can play an important role in differentiating you from your competition.

We all know that sounds like the alarm clock going off in the morning, a doorbell ringing, or the ringtone of our significant other triggers a response in us. Those responses are emotional and they are stuck deep in our subconscious. So, when sound is used to elicit positive emotions it subconsciously helps consumers identify with your brand. It builds trust and loyalty.

Audio branding includes elements like an audio signature, brand music and the voice you use for television, radio and videos. These sounds convey your brand’s essence and values.

Your audio signature

An audio signature is a group of tones or mnemonic attached to the music bed that you consistently use in your television or radio spots. Think of the iconic NBC chimes, or the “Intel inside” four-note melody, or even the startup sound of your Apple computer. All of these are great examples of successful audio signatures. Your audio signature is akin to your organization’s logo. After repeated encounters with your audio signature people will think of you just by hearing it—or in ideal cases your audio signature will get stuck in their heads.

 Sound touch points

Another aspect of audio branding includes the sounds you create across touch points like your website or apps, in social media, videos or at events. This also includes the music playing in your elevators, in your waiting rooms or when people are on hold. Just as your visual brand is expressed and optimized for each medium, your brand’s audio expressions should be adapted to reflect the characteristics of each touch point. The sound you create should be consistent with who you are, but not necessarily repetitive across all touch points because people experience each point differently. Done right all of the sounds associated with your brand create an “audio language.” This language has at its base the values, promise and personality of your healthcare organization.

Building your unique sound

A first step to building your unique sound aesthetic is to collect data about how your brand sounds.

  • Which two or three words describe your core?
  • Create a sound mood board—bits of music, voices, other sounds that communicate your unique essence.
  • Make sure these elements are distinct from your competition and communicate your values and mission.
  • Make sure the sound of your brand adds dimension to your visual brand identity or helps underscore your visual message.

 Sound speaks to the soul

Sound talks to our emotional brain. It evokes feeling that can be far more powerful than language. More than any other stimulus, sound has the ability to stir something in our subconscious mind—in our souls.

Creating your own audio language based on the mission, values and personality of your healthcare organization can create a bond with healthcare consumers. It gives your brand the opportunity to be distinctive and remarkable at every touch point.

The last in our series about the use of multisensory approaches to emphasize and position your brand in the healthcare customer’s life will conclude next week with Marsha Hystead blogging about your brand’s voice. Be sure to read it.