How Audio Branding Can Help Define Your Business Culture

Guest contribution by Colleen Fahey (learn more about the author at the end of the article):

The most important brand touch-points for customers are your employees. Since employees are the flesh and blood manifestation of your brand, they need to know they belong and be clear about what they belong to.

It’s no wonder many companies use audio branding primarily for their internal audiences.

Audio branding helps a company convey its distinct values and aspirations through proprietary music and sounds all stemming from a custom-designed audio DNA.  It gives brands the ability to convey meaning at each touch-point.

A company’s audio brand can make employees feel intimately connected to it.  For instance, employees may be given choices of several versions of ringtones expressing their own personality as well as the company’s audio DNA. Microsoft’s sounds on their PCs can be replaced with their own bespoke sounds based on their audio brand:  the email notifications, computer opening sounds and alerts tie back to the brand.

Music used in company websites and training videos as well as the music played when a speaker rises to the stage or makes her exit brings the brand to life and instills pride in the company.

In this post, I’ll share two brands whose values and culture are quite different from each other and whose particular musical DNA brings those distinctions to life:  Bel Cheeses and MACSF Insurance.

We’ll also delve into the many connection points where employees and partners can be reminded of the values of the group to which they belong.

Bel Cheeses: Sharing Smiles around the World

Bel Cheeses, makers of Laughing Cow, Baby Bel and Boursin, wanted to capture the essence of their brand for their 10,600 employees and partners in 120 countries.   Their goal was to create a sense of unity and underscore the meaning of their tagline,  “Sharing Smiles.”

Working through a branding exercise, they determined they wanted to their brand to articulate: smiling, sharing, family feeling, enthusiasm, sponteneity and energy. They wanted their musical expression to feel close and accessible, yet global.

As part of the strategy to make everyone feel like a unified group, Bel tapped not only their employees and management, but also their board of directors, investors and even outside partners.

The resulting music is expressed through their delightful audio logo and through many touchpoints – event background music, event opening and closing compositions, employee ringtones, telephone on-hold music and computer opening and closing sounds, an incoming email trill that quietly but happily takes you back to the smile in the audio brand.

The effort won the Grand Prize in the 2012 SuperDesign contest and better yet, Bel’s management  reports a strong feeling of belonging and cohesion throughout the company and with its partners.

MACSF Captures the Human Side of Business to Business

MACSF is a smaller company providing insurance for healthcare professionals.

In 2012, MACSF redefined its brand territory bringing in a new visual identity and audio identity expressing the brand’s vitality and leadership.

This effort, led by Marie-Anne Belembert, Director of Communications, sought to update a long-time, well-respected company that had begun in the tradition of mutual support.

She guided the audio branding brief toward expressing a mutually-beneficial relationship in a contemporary way–bringing the renewed brand to life through music.  A strong and distinctive audio identity resulted, both contemporary and, in its instrumentation, reflective of the brand’s deep heritage.

As a nod to MACSF’s collaborative nature, many employees were included in the development of the music.  And as the icing on the cake, the orchestral version was performed by the orchestra made up of employees of the hospitals of Paris.

Music created for MACSF included the Audio DNA, Audio Logo, orchestral version, on-hold music, Session opening, mounting the stage, radio commercials and employee ringtones.

In the end, here’s what the head of the initiative, Marie-Anne Belembert, had to say: “Our agency has translated our personality and our messages with ease and passion. An excellent composition, which is the perfect translation of MACSF identity.”

About the Author

Colleen Fahey is the U.S. Managing Director of Sixieme Son, a Paris-based agency exclusively dedicated to audio branding – advising creating and supporting its clients in defining their Audio Brand and adapting it to their particular touch-points.

Since its launch in 1995, the agency has created audio brands for over 285 clients. Among them are AXA, Cartier, Dior, Michelin, Nestlé Extrême, Royal Air Maroc and Samsung.

Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Women on Business. She is a 20-year veteran of the marketing field and has authored ten books about marketing, branding, and social media, including the highly popular 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing for Dummies, Blogging All-in-One for Dummies and Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps. Susan’s marketing-related content can be found on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, and more. Susan is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has worked in corporate marketing roles and through client relationships with AT&T, HSBC, Citibank, Intuit, The New York Times, Cox Communications, and many more large and small companies around the world. Susan also speaks about marketing, branding and social media at events around the world and is frequently interviewed by television, online, radio, and print media organizations about these topics. She holds an MBA in Management and Strategy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing.

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