Through Music and Sound – A Conversation with John Taite – Part 1
“There are so many things where it’s about that emotional connection to brand experience or product, and, as we’re creating that, you mentioned earlier, we’re operating in an area which is very very heavily connected to the subconscious reaction to sound. You have to be very responsible about that, I mean, it is that ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’” — John Taite
My guest for this episode is an award-winning content entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and the EVP of Global Brand Partnerships & Development at Made Music Studio. He began his career as a music journalist and documentary filmmaker before working as a senior programming and brand executive at MTV, AMC Networks, and the BBC. He’s been featured in several major publications, including Fast Company, Muse by Clio, Marketing Brew, and Business Desk, and he’s captivated audiences at the Forbes CMO Summit, Adweek, Brand Innovators, LE Miami, and the Audio Intelligence Summit.
At Made Music, he leads an award-winning marketing, content, and partnerships team responsible for a 400% jump in revenue. His growing list of brand partners includes Mercedes-Benz, AT&T, PepsiCo, Amazon, Verizon, Target, Dunkin’, Subaru, Warner Media, General Mills, American Express, Lexus, BMW, and the David Bowie Estate. His name is John Taite and if you’re still wondering how effective audio branding can be after having listened to this podcast for a while, I have no doubt that this will be a fascinating conversation!
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As we start the interview, John tells us about his early memories of sound, and listening to his father’s upcoming interviews with musicians like Bob Marley, the Sex Pistols, and Talking Heads. “It was quite an interesting life growing up,” he tells us. “I grew up with not your average nursery rhymes and things like that.” He goes on to tell us how his career and experiences all over the world led to his insights about audio branding and the lack of a cohesive marketing strategy in many industries. “The thing that really struck me,” he explains, “was a lot of brands are invisible in this space. They put so much time and energy to create the visual identity systems and visual branding, but there was a real gap.”
Coming Around the Campfire
We talk about Made Music’s approach to branding, and its integration of sound, music, and story to speak to the audience. “It’s really about the story, you know,” John says. “For us, it’s really about putting the stories out there.” As he puts it, “we want to find something that couldn’t possibly sound like anybody else.” He gives us an example with their famous Tostitos campaign, which took inspiration from everyday life to create a memorable audio connection between the snack brand and its consumers. “With Tostitos in particular,” John explains, “their whole thing is about coming around the campfire. It’s about togetherness, it’s about just, you know, those moments.”
The Lens of Sound and Music
Our discussion turns to the power of conscious and unconscious branding, and the subliminal impression sound can make even apart from the industry’s more famous jingles. “It really is a case,” John says, “of steering people I suppose in a way where they begin to consider their brand through the lens of sound and music.” We talk about conscious branding and the art of engaging consumers on a personal level through the power of sound and story. “It answers questions,” he explains, “like does this brand see me? Does this brand accept me? Does this brand invite me into its world?”
The Magic of It
John talks about some of Made Music’s most famous marketing campaigns and the behind-the-scenes process for creating them. “We probably have a higher success rate in terms of launching,” he tells us, “and that’s really because we spend a lot of time doing it.” A story that engages the listener is critical, he says, and “making sure that it’s embedded in the work.” The challenge and goal, he explains is to use the power of sonic branding to forge a deeper relationship with customers, to elevate them into, as he says, “fans of shows, fans of events, fans of brands. That’s really the magic of it.”
- John’s early memories of such famous sounds as Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols
- How John sought to close the sonic branding gap in the marketing industry
- Made Music’s Tostitos campaign and the integral role of story in audio branding
- The power of conscious branding in creating personal connections
- Bringing stories to life and turning consumers into brand enthusiasts
Tune in next week as we talk about the dangers of leaving your brand on mute, the story behind Turner Classic Movies’ famous “Where Then Meets Now” audio campaign, and how such seismic shifts as social audio and AI content creation are shaking up the audio branding industry.
Connect with the Guest
Connect with John Taite on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johntaite/
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.