Visuals are an important part of branding. Iconic color schemes, images, and typefaces can define not just brands, but entire generations. Subsequently, visual content has become an integral component of successful content strategies between shareable images and infographics, colorful images demonstrative of brands, and even memes.
But what else is iconic, yet frequently overlooked? Audio.
Think about that easily-recognizable sound that plays when Mario picks up coins in Nintendo games. Or if you don’t play games, I bet you remember James Earl Jones’ soothing voice in those old Bell Atlantic commercials or the Intel Inside sound that plays at the end of every ad. Content and advertising are having more spillover than ever today, but audio shouldn’t be relegated solely to commercials, YouTube ads, and the like. Here’s what you should keep in mind when making audio part of your content strategy.
Podcasting Is Not the Only Audio Component in Content Strategy
Edison Research has a measure called “share of ear” and found that podcasts have eclipsed traditional AM/FM radio, with 22% of the total population of the United States listening to a podcast at least once per month. Podcasts and other mediums like audiobooks have picked up steam because unlike books and written content, they can be consumed simultaneously with things like driving to work, doing household chores, or hitting the gym. As people try to cram more into 24 hours than ever before, audio content has become the way that we try to do it all.
But according to audio content expert Tom Webster of Edison Research, he says that podcasting alone isn’t a holistic audio strategy and delved into this concept at Content Marketing World. Podcasts are an excellent start, but shouldn’t be the only method being explored: have you also given thought to audiobooks, smart speakers, and cultivating brand identity through signature sounds?
Using Smart Speakers for Smart Context
Smart speakers, like Amazon’s Alexa system, are growing faster than podcasts or even smartphones. People have been eager to adopt them to reduce their screen time and make certain tasks go faster, like getting directions or syncing with smart home technology. They can also be used to play audio content like podcasts, audio books, and the like.
Finding ways to contextually fit in with listeners’ needs is something that brands are overlooking. For instance, podcasts don’t have to be a weekly or monthly occurrence meant to inform or entertain for half an hour at a time: Crest does a daily podcast for a couple minutes twice a day to remind children to brush their teeth which parents can activate by telling any podcast player or Amazon Echo to play it.
In this particular context, audio is going to be far more effective than video or visuals because a parent trying to wrangle their kids into morning rituals or getting them to brush their teeth before bedtime isn’t going to have time to get their kids in front of a device.
Developing a Signature Sound
Going back to the Nintendo and Bell Atlantic examples, a signature sound will prove to be crucial for both advertising and producing audio content.
Finding the right voice actor to bring this content to life can be the way, or getting a composer to come up with a memorable sound that people will start to associate with your brand just like the well-known Intel jingle or that sound that Samsung phones play every time you turn them on. Is there a name for this sound? How recognizable is it? This helps develop brand identity and getting people to remember it, like those memorable Bell Atlantic commercials or the “Can you hear me now?” tester in Verizon ads.
By having a well-cultivated brand identity and leveraging audio content for consistency and convenience, you’ll be tapping into a whole new context you might not have thought about before. Keeping smart speakers in mind is also the way to go instead of having a laser focus on podcasting alone. Make sure to follow the WriterAccess blog for more insights on building a brand and keeping your brand voice consistent and cohesive!
Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. She is also a content strategist here at Writer Access and would be happy to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.