“Production companies make these amazing videos and then go ‘oh, we need to think about some music and stuff,’ and it sort of like becomes a bit of a rush. But actually, when you think about it at the same time as pre-production and you start planning out how the sound’s going to work with the visuals, it elevates the video so much. And you’ll know this if you’ve ever watched some of the latest prints, like the new James Bond trailer, and if you listen to the actual sound design on that and what’s included over the top, it just takes to another level.” — Aaron Matthews
This week’s guest is an audio branding expert who’s worked for some of the biggest media brands in the UK, including BBC Radio 1, Global Radio, and Bauer. He’s fine-tuned his understanding of how consumers interact with brands at a content level, and the company that he founded, Creative Fix, develops unique audio advertising content that’s relevant, distinct, and memorable.
His name is Aaron Matthews, and he has a lot to share with us in this interview about the current state of the advertising industry, especially when it comes to effective audio branding.
As always, if you have any questions for my guest, you’re welcome to reach out through the links in the show notes. If you have questions for me, just visit www.audiobrandingpodcast.com where you’ll find all sorts of ways to get in touch. Plus, subscribing to the newsletter (on the www.audiobrandingpodcast.com webpage) will let you know when the new podcasts are available.
Altering Your Emotions
Regular listeners know that we usually start the interview off with a look back at my guest’s earliest memories of sound, and Aaron shares the ’80s music that his parents listened to with him as a child, from INXS to George Michael, and how, as a teenager, a CD of Gustav Holst’s The Planets opened his eyes to the power of music. “What an amazing sound,” he describes it, “and you know how emotional that music is and how it moves you, and I remember hearing this as a teenager and thinking ‘wow, I’ve never heard anything like that before and it’s amazing.’” He tells us how he went on to become a DJ, and how that experience taught him the profound connection between music and its listener. “At the simplest form,” he explains, “you’re altering someone’s emotions through music.”
Doing Things Digitally
We talk about the differences between traditional radio advertising and digital audio, and how digital audio’s more personal podcasts have created a new kind of audio market. “Radio,” Aaron tells us, “from its conception, is a shared listening experience… and advertising hasn’t really changed in radio because of that.” He explains that over eighty percent of digital audio is heard through headphones, and how new audio technology like 3D audio opens up unique branding possibilities. “That presents lots of really interesting opportunities for us,” he says, “in what we can do with sound generally, and we can actually do things with sound that we never could in radio because you’d miss them.”
Transporting the Listener
“There’s so much more we can do with sound than we can do in radio,” Aaron continues as we talk about digital audio marketing. “You can put people in different places using really great soundscapes.” He tells us how silence is an underused but particularly effective tool in digital audio, and how binaural audio effects have helped transform such diverse soundscapes as ambient horror movie tracks to a recent New Zealand tourism campaign. “Before you even speak one word of copy or the voiceover even starts speaking,” he says, “you’ve transported someone through their imagination.”
The Sound of Consistency
As the first half of our interview concludes, we talk about how corporations use a combination of consistent branding and versatile audio to create an effective sonic brand. “The simplest form of audio branding is if you look at someone like McDonald’s,” Aaron says, is that “it’s very consistent.” We take a look at the audio branding strategies of such companies as McDonald’s, Intel, and British telecommunications giant O2, and at the strategies Creative Fix uses to create audio logos that have both a consistent synergy and the flexibility to fit into a variety of marketing strategies.
- Aaron’s musical upbringing and career as a London DJ
- The differences between radio advertising and digital audio marketing
- How digital listening habits are changing audio branding
- Using soundscapes and ambient audio to transport the audience
- The key to creating a consistent but versatile sonic brand
Tune in next week for the second half of the interview as we talk about audio mood boards, the rise of branded podcasts as a sound marketing strategy, and the past and future of the radio jingle.
Connect with the Guest
Creative Fix Audio: https://creativefixaudio.com/
Connect with Aaron Matthews on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/creative-fix-audio/
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.