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The term sonic branding refers to the use of sound to build brand familiarity. The sound of a Coke bottle opening or the absence of noise in a Dyson vacuum cleaner are familiarity-building tools that leverage sound.
This article will help you figure out seven different sonic tools and tricks you can use in your video marketing to create similar familiarity and interest in your brands.
1 - Contrast Draws Attention
Psychologists agree that the human mind is drawn toward what does not fit the pattern. Our brains are pattern-detecting machines. So, what does that mean for you as a video marketer? It means that you can add variation to your sound to grab attention.
Suppose your video tells a story that's fairly long. To avoid losing interest, you can switch up the pace of delivery. You can also alter the volume of your speech to create a dramatic effect. Such shifts create a sonic contrast that makes people pay more attention.
Raise your voice - By suddenly raising your voice, you can add a punch to your point.
Lower your voice - It is advisable to lower your voice when you’re about to reveal a secret. This inspires curiosity and draws people in.
Slow down your pace - Strategically slowing your pace can break the monotony of your content.
Increase your pace - Picking up the pace at which you tell a story just as things get interesting can create a thrilling effect.
Shift your tone - Avoid monotony by projecting the emotions you want to evoke. You should sound positive when you make a positive point.
2 - Repetition Builds Trust
One of the most valuable findings for marketers is that repetition builds trust. With repeated exposure to the same assertions, listeners begin believing them. That's why most propaganda relies on repetition. As a video marketer, you, too, can use this phenomenon.
By having positive declarations regarding your products repeated across different videos, you can improve their standing in your customers’ minds. Brand tag lines are so valuable because they can be repeated over and over. But taglines are not the only sonic repetition tool.
Thematic Repetition - If all your videos revolve around the same theme, then your viewers can start associating your brand with that theme. Coca-Cola and Disney both leverage "Magical" themes quite heavily.
Structure repetition - If your content follows a specific type of structure like Late Night shows, it starts creating expectations and familiarity. Your viewers know what to expect and feel pleased when you fulfill those expectations.
Linguistic repetition - This refers to the exact word-for-word repetition that can shoehorn its way into our brains. From "I'm lovin' it" to "It's Finger Lickin' Good," fast food chains often use linguistic repetition to make their food more delicious. You can use tailored slogans to make your videos more interesting.
Musical repetition - Just like verbal repetition creates trust, musical repetition fosters feelings of familiarity. Jingles, theme songs, and even background music can all become tools to promote sonic repetition.
3 - Build Sound Into The Product
Sound can work to build or diminish social proof. For instance, the sound of a supercar's engine is associated with thrill. And if you hear it zipping across a road, you can build opinions regarding the car's speed and desirability.
Coke is yet another product that has a socially resonant sonic brand. When someone opens a bottle of Coke, you can hear it across the room. Big brands are intentional about how their products sound.
But you’re not a product designer. You’re a video marketer. So, how could this be relevant to you? Think of your video as a product. Be intentional about the music, especially in the beginning. Produce your videos in a way that builds social proof.
If someone watches one of your videos in public, the audio should signal to everyone else who can hear it that your videos are valuable.
Pack the audio with actionable content - People are self-interested, so you have to offer something that benefits them. That’s the only way to get on their radar.
Make the audio standalone - As a video marketer, you should approach sound as a parallel content format. If your video gets converted to audio, does it still make sense?
Make your delivery unique and recognizable - This is by far the most valuable way to create a sonic identity. Listen to any stand-up comedian and then Marc Normand to see how delivery can help someone stand apart.
4 - Punchline Effect - Use Sounds To Engineer Expectations
The punchline effect is perhaps one of the most potent ways to use the psychology of sound for your videos. You may have learned about the Pavlov experiment where he rang a bell each time he fed his dogs, only for the dogs to start salivating upon hearing the bell, even in the absence of food.
The experiment proves that mental associations can be built with unrelated stimuli through simultaneous exposure. If you get a hug from your child each time you enter your home, you start associating home with your child's hug. You might even catch yourself feeling full of love and joy when you open the door, even if your child is asleep.
Here’s how that’s useful in videos: you can use a specific sound (effect, musical note, or word) every time you create an emotion. Comedy shows use laugh tracks and rimshots to indicate punchlines. This anchors laughter with these sounds.
That way, even when a joke isn’t funny, the audience can giggle on cue. But laugh tracks are far from being the only use case of this kind of association.
Catchphrases - A catchphrase is often delivered upon entry or after a character says something clever. It cements the audience’s connection with the character.
Build-up phrases - As a video marketer, you’ll need these. By using similar phrasing over and over just before you reveal something interesting, you can create a sonic hook for inspiring interest. Example: “Here’s the secret to…”
Credits Music - Thriller series do this masterfully. By using the same music right at a cliffhanger moment, they tie suspense to their theme song. Horror movies also do this with their respective themes. If your videos have similar themes, using the same soundtrack for each entry is highly recommended.
5 - The Absence Of Sound Has An Effect
This insight is also built upon the human bias for contrast. We're drawn towards anything that doesn't fit the common patterns we are accustomed to. If your video goes silent at a key moment, it draws the viewer into the visual aspect.
A common movie trope is that just as a gun is fired or a bomb blows up on the screen, the sound vanishes. A mute sequence is just as impactful as a loud one. While this tactic works in movies, you should be cautious when using it in video marketing.
Your audience isn't primed to expect silence. Some might consume your content while driving. By suddenly cutting out the audio, you might lose viewers. There are other ways to create sonic absence without muting the entire audio track.
Drop the music - If the audio track features dialogue and music, cutting out the music and keeping the dialogue can have an interest-inspiring effect.
Keep only the music - You can also continue speaking but cut out the music to draw attention.
Cut out the audio - On rare occasions, you can cut out the audio to create a sonic pause. Do not make it any longer than 3 seconds for online videos to keep people engaged.
6 - Produce Audio To Stand Alone Only
The multi-tasking effect is the result of our hyper-stimulated digital environment. Because we’re used to being overstimulated, we like to occupy ourselves with multiple things at once. We watch movies as we scroll through Instagram. Whether that's good or bad is not a discussion for now.
What’s relevant is that many people are “watching” your videos with their ears. As a result, they may not be paying attention to (or even looking at) the screen. Your sound should be designed to stand alone.
This can also be helpful when you repurpose your videos as podcast episodes or digital audio files. They don’t feel like they’re missing much.
Describe visual information - Video podcasters often say, "For those on audio…" before describing something that viewers can see. Describing what's going on in the video can help the audio track stand on its own as a complete piece of content.
Show and tell - In storytelling, there's a famous saying, "Show, don't tell." But in online content, you need to show (visually) and tell (on audio) to make both formats valid.
Script audio, shoot video - The best way to value-pack your audio track is to write your script for audio and then shoot the video. When you script with the audio in the main format, you do not make choices that depend on visuals. As a result, your videos are just as valuable for listeners as they are for viewers.
7 - Score Your Videos Like Films
It is easy to confuse audio with dialogue. Dialogue is just one part of the audio. By being more thoughtful of the music in your content, you can level up the quality of your videos. Scoring your videos like films is pretty important even though you’re not writing or making music for your content. You still need to pick music that matches the mood of your videos.
Reinforcing the overall vibe of your video with song selection can have two benefits. First, it can make your videos more appealing. Second, it can psychologically frame your message. There's a reason why sad music is used for accounts of tragedy, and exciting music is reserved for thrillers.
Your audience might not even notice how much thought you’ve put into the musical aspect of your videos. But they’ll nonetheless appreciate how immersive and mood-altering your content is.
Keep a library of diverse music - Keep a wide collection of tracks ranging from motivational music to sad songs and happy music to neutral elevator-style music.
Repeat a specific track - Take a specific track and turn it into your theme song. If you have the budget, have an instrumental created from scratch just for your videos.
Hire an audio expert - Finally, hire a sound engineer to work on your sound. This will do more for your audience engagement than you expect.
Sound As A Marketing Vehicle: Best Practices For Developing Your Sound
As a video marketer, your content is your product. Your goal is to buy people’s willingness to watch more of your content. And the right music can be the perfect bribe. The previous section went into the psychology of why that works. In this part, you will find practical things you can do to inflate your content’s sonic appeal.
Create Curiosity - Use Suspenseful Music And Lower Your Speaking Volume
Suspenseful music is available on plenty of royalty-free music sites. Stock audio libraries like StoryBlocks also have plenty of ominous tracks you can use. Pair this music with the right wording to inspire curiosity. To take it further, lower your speaking volume a little to create the feeling of a secret being disclosed.
Make Them Laugh - Add A Narrative Twist And A Sound Effect
There are plenty of ways to make people laugh, but perhaps the most reliable one is to give them something they don't expect. By scripting a humorous twist and pairing it with a switch up in music, you can make your viewers laugh. And psychologists have established a link between laughter and likability.
Evoke Empathy - Use Sad Violin Instrumentals
On the internet, your videos can be consumed by pretty much everybody. Since your content isn't geo-confined, your sound shouldn't be culturally limited. Studies have found that cello and violin are often used in sad music. By using sad violin instrumentals, you can evoke your audience’s empathy. Make sure you use such music only when the script calls for it.
Draw Them In - Pickup Your Speaking Pace And Use Thrilling Music
Aside from making your script more suspenseful, you can speed up your delivery to create the impression of being in the middle of the action. To further accentuate your audience's state of suspense, use thrilling music. Just make sure the music doesn't drown out your voice.
Create The Main Character Effect - Have A Theme Cord/Instrumental
If you appear regularly in your content, then it might help to have a short cord or music snippet that plays every time you appear on screen. This works for talking head and commentary videos.
For content where you're constantly on the screen, use the "theme chord" the first time you appear. Overusing it can have a taxing effect.
Best Sound Tools For Video Marketers
Now that you know key sound marketing strategies and moodmaking combinations, you're ready to level up your sound.
Let's look at some of the tools that will help you along the way.
ContentFries is a content multiplying suite most often used to repurpose long-form content into viral-friendly bite-sized content. But it has a powerful audio exporter tool that lets you convert video content into high-quality audio. You can publish the converted audio files as podcast episodes and expand your content monetization.
Video marketers might be hesitant when it comes to packaging and publishing their videos as audio programs until they learn that podcasts have 10x higher CPM than standard YouTube videos.
Storyblocks is a stock library of videos, audio, and images that you can use in your content without paying for individual items.
It is much more economical than standard stock music websites. If you need stock content for your videos, having a running subscription can be useful. And if you shoot all your videos from scratch, then you can sign up for a month of Storyblocks and download just the music tracks you plan to use regularly.
Why would you need Fiverr as a video marketer? For plenty of reasons, one of which is sound editing. You can hire sound editors on Fiverr. It can cost a pretty penny, especially if you select good ones using Fiverr Pro. So this is not for everyone. You can use tools covered towards the end to DIY your edits.
Another interesting way for you to use Fiverr for your audio is to hire a music producer. It is much better to have original music for your content that no one else can use. Royalty-free music can be used by anyone, making your sound less unique.
Landr is an audio mastering tool that leverages AI to make your audio mix sound better. It is not for all video marketers, as it can be a little expensive to maintain. But if you produce ads for mid to big-budget clients, getting a subscription can help you deliver better-sounding videos.
This tool is one most video marketers can use. It uses AI to make audio editing simple. If you make infotainment content for marketing purposes, then descript will help you polish it quicker and consequently pump out more content. You'll get the most out of it if you follow this resource's recommendations on giving your videos' audio tracks some standalone value.
Audio goes unnoticed by the conscious mind but has a profound subconscious effect. That's why billion-dollar businesses invest in Sonic Branding research. As a video marketer, you should approach your audio with as much attention as Coke does its unbottling sound. Follow the tips in this article to leverage your sound to maximize audience loyalty, build brand familiarity, and create hyper-immersive content.