It’s been just about a year now since the coronavirus pandemic first started, and sometimes it’s felt like the whole world’s closed for business. More and more of us are working from home, and most of our business meetings, not to mention our daily lives, take place over Zoom these days. Life seems to be much more homebound lately, but with new vaccines being approved and the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, the world’s starting to open again. And one sector that’ll play a pivotal role in it is the tourist industry.
In 2019 the Costa Rica Tourism Board, or ICT, won the International Sound Award for Audio Branding with “The Sounds of Costa Rica,” a new musical brand that subtly emphasizes the letter C, for Costa Rica. It does this by making a simple but powerful six-note mnemonic out of the circle of fifths, a diagram often used in music. It starts with a C note and uses such instruments as the marimba, tuba and ocarina to play halfway through the circle.
This might sound pretty technical, but the melody, combined with the instruments and festive, colorful imagery that accompanies it, works to create an almost instinctive sense of warmth and inclusion. Like most music, all that work is just to create exactly the right mood for the listener, without anyone even noticing it.
If you’d like to hear it, and to see how it complements the new ICT logo, check out this link to the award video:
When we think about travel, we usually think of it as imagery: bright tropical beaches, flashing city lights or lush green forests. But audio branding’s starting to play a much larger role in the tourism industry lately, creating a sense of excitement, familiarity, even nostalgia using sound. The international resort chain Bahia Principe (bye-ee-ah preen-seh-pay) has made its theme song, complete with band and lyrics, the foundation of its brand. The melody’s used everywhere from its commercials to its phone system, from corporate videos to lobby music, all to create a consistently recognizable audio logo that will instantly engage their customers.
Curious about the song? There’s a link to it here:
But a lot has changed, even since 2019. Tourist boards and travel companies need to talk about the pandemic, expressing empathy for customers who are understandably reluctant to go on a vacation these days and adjusting their brand to a very different world than just a few years ago. Hotels.com quickly updated its Captain Obvious commercials last spring, previously featuring its mascot aboard a crowded airplane, to show support for social distancing and staying at home, and then again a few months later with a more lighthearted reference to Covid-19’s impact. Visit Las Vegas also started its #OnlyYou ad campaign in March of 2020 and has updated its message several times as well, encouraging visitors to wear masks and practice social distancing once the city’s reopened.
You can find links to both of their ads here:
These commercials have to strike a delicate balance between brand promotion, encouraging visitors to take precautions and showing solidarity with tourists who aren’t yet ready to travel.
Other travel companies are working to change their marketing approach altogether and find creative new ways to brand themselves in a post-pandemic world. Expedia, for instance, has relied on audio branding in the past, such as its Sound Travels ad campaign in 2018, and has more recently started its “Work From Here” campaign, replacing its more traditional vacation outings with packages meant for remote workers looking for a change in scenery.
It could still take a while before things get back to normal. The International Air Transport Association estimates that, even with a vaccine, air travel might not reach 2019 levels again until 2024, while the demand for hotels could take as long as 2023 to recover. And when it does, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what normal’s going to look like. But even while we’re all still stuck waiting inside, marketing and audio branding can help keep the tourist industry emotionally engaged with its customers, and all the more ready to recover and help make the world go round again.
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And if you’re interested in crafting an audio brand for your business, why not check out my FREE download – 5 Tips For Implementing An Intentional Audio Strategy at https://voiceoversandvocals.com/audio-branding-strategy/