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Unleashing the Power of Sound: Audio Branding for the Holidays - Part 1
Episode 21527th December 2023 • Audio Branding • Jodi Krangle
00:00:00 00:33:44

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“I was just thinking that humans generally like things that are new, but not that new, and you probably have the familiar tune. And then if you hear something clever, I think the biggest danger is cheesiness. But if you have something clever and, as Adam says, anchored in the brand, if it’s a tongue-in-cheek brand and it’s a tongue-in-cheek lyric, that’ll work and maybe it adds freshness rather than clutter.” -- Colleen Fahey


Recently, I had a conversation in a LinkedIn Audio Event with four very knowledgeable and talented audio branding experts about what companies can do to make the most of their audio brand over the holiday season. My panelists were Jeanna Isham, a sonic strategist, author, and audio branding thought leader with Dreamr Productions; Adam Pleiman, Creative Director and Grammy-nominated engineer with PLAY Audio Agency; Colleen Fahey, author and US Managing Director of Sixième Son; and John Sanfilippo, a veteran producer and sound strategist with his company, SoundWise.

All four had a lot to say about this subject, and we discussed what companies should have done before the holidays, what trends they were seeing in the area of audio branding, and what they thought companies could do with their audio branding to prepare for the new year. We exchanged ideas on moving beyond traditional holiday songs and instead harnessing a brand’s unique sound to make a distinct impression. It was a fascinating discussion and I think you’ll get a lot from it.

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(0:00:00) - Audio Branding for the Holidays

We start off the topic of audio branding for the holidays with our panel of experts sharing their insights on striking the balance between familiar and novel holiday marketing. “They say that all the best ads happen at Christmas time,” Colleen notes, “but they run for the shortest amount of time because then they get cut down when Christmas is over.” We talk about some of the most memorable marketing twists on holiday advertising, from M&M ads to Frank Sinatra parodies, and what makes them stand out from the branding crowd. “I think that if you can find the heart of your actual brand persona and personify that into the holidays,” Jeanna says, “without going the cookie cutter, generic way, you will stand out and you’ll be a relief from what other people are listening to.”


(0:16:10) - Sound and Music in Advertising

The group continues to explore the power of sound and music during the holiday season, and how less can be more when it comes to making a holiday impression. “It’s very like positive, subliminal messaging, right,” Jeanna says about Hershey’s minimalist holiday bells ad, “you know, it puts a smile on your face because it’s kind of silly, but it’s not offensive at all and I think that that’s why you can watch it over and over again.” We also talk about whether rewriting the classic songs can work for holiday branding, and what makes the difference between clever and cringe when it comes to adding a personal touch. “I’m always a fan of having your own assets and adapting those,” John explains. “So I mean, if you had your own song, then you could adapt it to Christmas, as opposed to what you’re describing. Yeah, something you can take a little more ownership over.”


(0:25:10) - Inclusive Music and Store Zoning

We also talk about making holiday music and marketing more diverse and inclusive. “You could make a much bigger palette to choose from,” Jeanna notes, “if you chose songs that are from the Caribbean and songs from Spain, and songs from France.” The conversation touches on zoning as well, the idea of audio branding based on the customer’s purpose rather than just the setting and time of year. As Colleen explains, “Should we have the same music [up and] downstairs, where the makeup is and people are playing around and when people are contemplating expensive purchases?”


Episode Summary

  • Audio branding during the holidays, from traditional songs to retail employees.
  • Striking the balance between fresh and familiar during the holiday season.
  • How inclusive music and strategic zoning can build a more memorable brand.


Tune in next episode as we discuss the impact of music platforms like TikTok on consumer habits, some of the missing branding opportunities of the pandemic and how major companies are catching up these days, and the power of human authenticity in a world of AI content creation.


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Play Audio Website:

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Sixième Son Website:

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