POV (Perspective)
An Audio Strategy for Success
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020
Vinnie LoRusso (l) and Mitch Rabin

This has been a challenging year for everyone in advertising. Little entertainment content is being produced, so few brands are motivated to create new ads. Even among those whose budgets haven’t been cut, many are choosing to re-run existing work because pandemic restrictions make production almost impossibly difficult. As a result, agencies are suffering, and, by extension, so are their vendors.

While all of us can’t wait for the good times to return, simply “waiting” is not a good strategy. There are ways to make productive use of this difficult period. Tough times, in fact, often inspire creative thinking and innovation. It can be an ideal opportunity to plant seeds for future success. We’re seeing plenty of examples of that among our music clients.

Many brands are facing budget crunches. While some are simply cutting back, others are finding ways to do more with less. On the music side, brands are taking advantage of customization techniques to give existing tracks new life. Something as simple as remixing or re-editing a track can give it a fresh vibe. A vocal can be added to an instrumental work to express a theme, complement a story or jump start a new campaign. Customization not only saves money. It can be done quickly and with a small team to stay within health and safety guidelines.

Smart clients are using this time to focus on brand strategy. The post-pandemic world is bound to look far different than the one we left. Consumer attitudes and behavior will have changed. The pandemic has altered viewing, communication and buying habits, and things are unlikely to go back to the way they were even when “normalcy” is restored. Brands will need to adjust their messaging and interact with people in new ways and new places.

One tool that will be an increasing part of the new normal is audio branding. Mnemonics and other forms of signature sound have been around for decades, but they are becoming ubiquitous in a future dominated by voice assistants, smart appliances, voice IDs and sound-driven user experiences. Audio branding is with us whenever we drive our cars, use our phones, play a game or switch on our computer. While this trend has been gaining steam for several years, it will go full throttle in the post-pandemic world with consumers gravitating toward contactless ways of conducting their affairs. 

The current lull in production makes this an excellent time to assess audio branding strategies. Companies need to think carefully about how music and sound defines their brand and develop a plan to ensure that they are heard across current and future touchpoints and technologies. Often overlooked, an audio “identity” can be even more effective than visual branding in creating emotional recognition and telling a brand’s story. It can also be more flexibly deployed and adapted to more contexts. Now, more than ever, music and sound need to be considered as part of a brand’s overall aesthetic and not simply as a tactical application that serves a single campaign or piece of content. Brands have a strategy for their visual assets; it’s time to maximize potential by developing an audio strategy to fully realize the value of music and sound.

At some point in the future, we’ll take off our masks and forget about social distancing. When that day arrives, brands, agencies and vendors who’ve used this time wisely will sprint ahead. Creativity and action applied now could pay dividends for years to come.

Mitch Rabin is EVP and Vinnie LoRusso, EVP, executive creative director at ELIAS Music, a full-service music and audio agency founded by Grammy-nominated artist, composer and producer Jonathan Elias. In business for over 40 years, ELIAS Music works in partnership with brands, creative agencies and entertainment companies to harness the power of music and sound to enthrall, delight, astonish and inspire.

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