Did you hear that – that sound when you turned on your computer? That sound is no accident. It is part of the product brand and plays an important role in the computer manufacturer’s overall brand recognition, going beyond the visual logo, images, taglines and verbal messaging.

This is what we call sound, or audio, branding, and it can play a powerful part in your law firm’s overall brand identity.

What Is Audio Branding?

A big part of branding is visual: It’s your logo mixed with a unique color palette. The simple visual from a distance tells our brains what to expect.

But audio plays a big part as well. These branded sounds include the short audio bursts that play when starting a computer or an application, turning on an entertainment system, or even the ice cream truck rolling down the street. Sound has the ability to deliver a distinct branding message – and make it stick once it gets there.

Audio branding can powerfully influence your audience by distinguishing your law firm brand and infusing it with meaning and personality. The tactic can effectively connect with people on a subconscious level and become an additional point in building the relationship.

Note that the type of audio branding we are talking about is not jingles or licensing popular music. It's the use of a unique custom sound or music that creates a brand's distinct audio identity. It is another way of expressing your brand at all customer touchpoints to create an audio signature that clients associate with your law firm.

Why Should I Use Audio Branding?

There are several compelling reasons why law firms should consider formalizing a unique audio identity. 

Memorable: Sounds are recognizable and “sticky.” Attaching sound to your brand can earn recognition and remembrance from clients.

Emotional response: Sound evokes an emotional response from people, such as a feeling of excitement or anticipation.

Mood setter: Once established, a few brief seconds of sound can set audience expectations and remind them of your brand.

Brand loyalty: Audio branding can inspire greater loyalty when you select a sound that fits your brand values.

Identifying Your Audio Brand

How you go about finding your sound and defining your brand is very much like how you identify your visual or verbal identity. You have to be willing to seek out aspects of your firm that speak to its image and culture, including:

  • What are the firm’s core values?
  • What is the firm’s culture?
  • What is the firm’s personality?
  • What are the firm’s unique differentiators?
  • What is the firm’s voice?
  • What is the firm’s story?
  • What are the firm’s brand messages?
  • What sound characterizes the above concepts?

Once you have identified your audio brand, you need to determine whether you will have  only one short identifiable sound, or if you will create a series that goes from the key short soundbite to something longer, with additional lengths in between. Much like having several logo options to cover the visual’s vertical, horizontal and online uses, your audio brand should have a few options for its use and placement.

After you have finalized your audio brand, you have to add it to your style guide. Just like your visual brand, you need to outline how, when and where to use the audio brand to maintain brand consistency.

How Do I Use an Audio Brand?

Audio branding has more uses in a law firm than you might think.

  • Online videos: If your law firm is posting videos on its website or YouTube channel, your video should have a brief opening clip with a unique sound, much like tuning in to the nightly news. It sets the tone and stage for what the viewer is about to watch and who is providing the content.
  • Podcasts: Same as with videos – if you are doing podcasts, using an audio brand at the start identifies your firm and your brand. This is important, since a podcast is all about the audio and has no visual attached to it.
  • Presentations: Whether you are pitching to a small group or presenting at a conference, starting your presentation with your audio brand grabs the audience’s attention and alerts them to who you are.
  • Phone systems: This is where a longer audio brand would be used. A fuller version of the audio brand can be the background sound while the caller is on hold. The short attention-grabbing version can be used upon transferring a call.

In today’s world with all its distractions, adding audio to your brand will allow your firm to stand out from the crowd. Wouldn’t it be great if your clients could identify your firm with their eyes closed? I welcome your questions or comments about the use of audio branding. Contact me, Alan E. Singles, at asingles@jaffepr.com.