First of all thanks to the organizing team & the initiators of the Audio Branding Congress (in the front row): Cornelius Ringe, Kai Bronner and Rainer Hirt!
Again it was another fascinating get together of Audio & Sound Branding Experts, Scientists and Brand Marketeers. The second international Audio Branding Congress took place in Hamburg, Germany, last Friday the 8th of November 2010.
One of the highlights was the presentation of the Audi Sound Branding case. However, and for me surprisingly, this case was discussed quite controversial after the presentation and especially at the get together party in the evening. Critics argue that the new Audi sound branding is missing a clear and memorable theme which is implemented in all commercials. At the moment the core elements of the Audi Sound Branding are: 10 instruments with a “unique” sound character, a motif and elements of the Sound Logo. These elements can be “re-arranged” by the individual musicians. They call it “Audi sound studio”.
Ms Margarita Bochmann, from Audi AG, agreed …that it will take more time but subsequently build up an awareness among the target group. I personally do agree if the media power is strong enough to get through the clutter. Than it will be very powerful as it offers agencies and musicians around the world the opportunity to produce individual scores for each spot. To me and from my experience in international brand management that gives the local markets and agencies enough flexibility so that they most likely support this approach and implement it. In contrast; what is the benefit of a very rigid Sound Branding if local markets do not apply it?
Hence, the Audi Sound Branding is a different approach and the future will tell whether it fulfills the objectives of Audi.
PS Another interesting comment from Ms Bochmann was that Audi has the goal to define one brand voice per country and language. I would say: “Vorsprung durch Voice Branding”!
I think this a very interesting case, too, Karlheinz.
I appreciate the thoroughness and the logic behind trying to implement consistent sounds for the brand. Audi gets high marks for the effort. But I have to wonder if the implementation is ultimately flawed.
Margarita admitted that the tonal/instrumentation choices were totally subjective. Obviously, we often “instinctively hear” the sound of a brand. But with a case such as this with so much attention to detail, it’s interesting that there appeared to be no research done in the process of choosing sounds and themes.
The other issue is that, while attempting to give a high degree of creative freedom to the composers, that strategy may have ultimately introduced variables that will cannibalize their efforts. It’s wonderful that Audi makes the “sonic palate” available to composers, but what happens when the agency doesn’t follow through with supplying the style guide (which has already happened in at least one instance that I know of…)? How many of the sounds supplied need to be used to constitute “effective audio branding?” What happens if an engineer changes the sound frequency, or adds an effect? Or buries the “Audi Approved Instruments” in the mix?
I think we’re still trying to figure out the often delicate relationship between science and art – between using our head and following our heart. It’s great to see Audi going for it! We need these opportunities to see what works, what doesn’t, where we can improve – and how we can better serve our clients and the discipline of audio branding as a whole.
Thanks so much for providing a forum here for that!
Cheers from Music City,
thanks for your comment. I do agree with you that Audi is taken a risk when keeping their Sound Branding “flexible”. To ensure the success of this approach practical guidelines and an international brand guardian function are mandatory. I’m curious – as you – to see how it will be implemented over the next years.