“If you’re not thinking about sound and audio strategically and intentionally as it applies to every part of the mix in marketing, every touchpoint, every channel, every platform, then you’re likely going to be doing yourself a disservice.” — Shez Mehra
This week’s guest is an award-winning creative entrepreneur, founder, advisor, and producer who specializes in building brand affinity through the strategic and intentional use of sound. Sounds like the perfect person to ask about audio branding, right? His name is Shez Mehra and we met recently at a monthly Zoom chat that Jeanna Isham put together, discussing sound in marketing. Shez really impressed me with his knowledge about the industry, with the projects he’s worked on in the past, and where he sees this going in the future.
He’s on the cutting edge of discovering creative ways to use sound for his clients every day, and I’m looking forward to exploring more about that and hearing some of the stories he has to tell.
I really think you’ll enjoy this interview!
Playing the Wizard
Shez tells us about his earliest memories of sound, of dancing to Chubby Checker with his dad and trying to figure out how the musicians could fit inside a radio. But his life truly changed once he heard a DJ’s record scratch, and then when he went to his first nightclub and saw a DJ’s hold on the audience firsthand. “I was fascinated by this person sort of behind the scenes,” he explains, “playing Wizard of Oz and really controlling the entire narrative and soundscape and influencing so many people’s journeys.”
Differentiation Through Sound
“Audio branding,” Shez tells us, “is essentially building differentiation through sound. It’s not unlike visual branding in that you see a logo or a brand or a color and you’re intrinsically thinking about that brand or that company.” We discuss the more binary role sound used to play in marketing jingles, and how our audio branding has evolved over time. As Shez says, it’s about being “everywhere that a brand exists and speaks to a customer.”
A Post-Production Conversation
We also take a look at the meteoric rise of Clubhouse, Zoom, and social media in the audio branding landscape, and their staying power now that the world’s beginning to open up again. Shez talks about the importance of integrating sound strategically into marketing from the very start of a brand. “Most brands aren’t thinking about sound in this way. It’s always thought of as a post-production conversation,” he tells us. “If you’re not thinking about sound strategically, then you’re likely going to be doing yourself a disservice.”
Not the Same World
“It is not the same world as even five years ago or ten years ago,” Shez explains, “and even the ways our brains are being wired differently now is changing.” We talk about the challenges that audio marketing faces in the age of social media: for instance, if a licensed song goes viral on TikTok, is the company positioned to take advantage of that? We discuss the perils of taking a halfhearted approach to building that audio brand and how he emphasizes those challenges and solutions for clients. “We understand the value of what we do but we need to be able to… articulate it to the people responsible for investing in brand and brand decisions.”
Be sure to tune in next week for part two as we continue the interview with a look at Shez’s upcoming Destination Toronto project, his work on the Telus #EndBullying campaign, and a peek at what can happen when too many brands use the same stock music.
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.