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Sound in Healthcare Marketing

Interview by “Healthcare Marketing” magazine with the managing director of GROVES Sound Branding Christoph Groß-Fengels.
Topic: Relevance of audio branding for companies in the healthcare industry

Why is it worthwhile for companies to use sound as a part of their brand communication?

To start with the words of Paul Watzlawick: „You cannot not communicate”. This is especially true in the world of sound. While a brand identity usually favours the eyes, where everything from the Pantone colour to the house font is precisely defined, the ears are often neglected. Musical decisions, whether for telephone loops, image films or commercials, are often made on the basis of gut feeling, or are simply the responsibility of whoever is in charge of the project. The untapped potential for additional identification, differentiation, emotionalisation and even brand positioning is often neglected. Here is where sound branding comes in by initiating a strategy to make sound holistically usable for the brand. In addition, the current “audio-first” trend is showing brand managers very clearly that an auditory counterpart to their visual design elements is indispensable. Whether podcasts, Clubhouse, Spotify, or home assistants – the topic of brand sound is ever-present in 2021.

What do companies have to pay attention to so that sound becomes part of the brand DNA and provides added value? What do you achieve with a brand-typical sound image with your target group?

When developing a sound identity, it is important to understand which values and attributes of the brand can be conveyed sonically. After defining the strategy and the implementation of the sound elements, special attention must be paid, that they are used consistently and coherently. As with visual design, this is prescribed in a “Brand Sound Manual”. The sound identity will then provide a measurable added value in terms of identification, differentiation, positioning and recall. In addition, a real unified Sonic Identity gives a more professional overall appearance while leaving the emotional effect of the music preserved.

Which elements are a must for a brand‘s sound identity?

Based on the brand‘s requirements, the auditory strategy may vary. On the basis of the “auditory customer journey”, we draw up a catalogue of requirements for possible future sound elements. Groves supports brands of all sizes, especially in the health sector: From companies such as Hevert-Arzneimittel with around 200 employees, to corporate groups such as Olympus with more than 35,000 employees, we develop strategies to fit the requirements. Sound Logo, brand theme, brand voice(s) and call-centre-design are usually make up the basic collection. But it can be much more extensive. Hevert Arzneimittel, for example, has its own e-health app based on our SonicTonic App with special soundscapes for stress reduction. We also support Olympus with the worldwide development of all product sounds – from high-frequency generators to drying cabinets for endoscopes.

How can brand values be expressed in sound?

We have designed our Brand Identity Development process to be as transparent and comprehensible as possible. We use a unique clustering method to show which attributes and values can be conveyed acoustically. The values are assigned to musically relevant parameters such as tempo, style, activity, quality or complexity. After the conceptual phase, we establish how to trigger perception of the defined brand attributes in the relevant target group. Market research is used to check that the signals are being correctly decoded. Differentiation is ensured by an analysis of competitors use of sound in their brand communications. This includes all sound elements, music styles and even voices.

To what extent have healthcare and pharmaceutical companies recognised the importance of acoustic brand management? What are the opportunities and challenges specifically in this industry?

The healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors use of Sound Branding is similar to the general market. Some companies have effectively used Sound Branding for many years, while most of their competitors lack even the most rudimentary approach. Besides Olympus and Hevert, our clients have included Gelomyrtol, Allergopharm, Hocoma, Geuder, with Biolectra and Doc Schmerzgel from Hermes Arzneimittel. In our opinion, the industry still has a lot of potential regarding the use of sound. One golden opportunity lies in recognising the fact that e-health apps like Calm, Headspace and our own SonicTonic are being used by a large number of people who have already experienced the healing effects of sound in their private lives. In some cases, these sound treatment apps are even covered by health insurances. The approach of giving the entire auditory communication a „healing touch“, in addition to the products, offers enormous potential for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. We are already active in this field with our current client Lohmann & Rauscher. The newly designed sound logo is the first step towards the combination of so-called healing soundscapes and acoustic brand management.

Article by Anna Jäger

The Intel Sound Logo

By some estimates, it’s played once every five minutes somewhere in the world. A simple five-note mnemonic tune composed 20 years ago that, with the help of a clever marketing slogan, helped Intel become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

“Nobody was going to run a 30-second ad with the logo there the whole time, it would look stupid. An audio component seemed like it would work really well,” Carter said.

That audio component would become what might be the most iconic three seconds of branded audio ever recorded: the Intel bong sound.

Five perfect notes
Walter Werzowa is the man who made the five perfect notes.

“The sound needed to convey reliability, innovation and trust,” Werzowa said. He says the “Intel Inside” tagline triggered a melody in his head, and those were the notes that became the Intel bong sound: D flat, D flat, G flat, D flat, A flat. The rhythm, he says, was inspired by the syllables of the tagline.

Werzowa then spent the following weeks refining the five-note sequence into the jingle that’s since become so recognizable. Each of the five tones is a blend of various synthesizers – mostly a lot of xylophone and marimba.

Interestingly, Werzowa and Intel discovered that the sound of the notes was at least as important as the melody itself. Among a 60-person focus group, researchers found only 80 percent of participants recognized the correct melody played on a violin, but 100 percent recognized it with the proper sound – even when an incorrect note was added.

A bong by any other sound (How did a jingle become a bong?)

Since the original jingle premiered in 1994, Werzowa says he’s updated it every two to three years. Now that the sound is globally recognizable, Intel is much more hands-on. The chipmaker’s in-house creatives, marketing team and legal counsel all provide input before any changes can be made.

It’s hard to count how many versions the bong sound has gone through over 20 years, but while the visuals have changed and some bass has been added, the essential five-note sequence remains the same.

Even will.i.am’s brief tenure as Intel’s director of creative innovation hasn’t had much impact, although the Black Eyed Peas frontman sampled the jingle for his 2013 track “Geekin.”

Perhaps the most creative iteration so far is from a group of Intel engineers in Finland, who turned themselves into human cannonballs, and launched into a giant row of chimes – likely with the aid of some video-editing wizardry.

While Intel has brought in a new chief marketing officer to revamp its brand image and marketing programs, it’s not clear whether the tune will change, go away, or morph into something new. Whatever the jingle might sound like in the future, Werzowa says one thing is certain in his mind: It’s not likely to be phased out any time soon.

“I cannot imagine that. The Sonic Mnemonic is worth millions of dollars,” he said.



IAA 2015 – Sound Branding für die Automobilindustrie

Beim „Automotive Breakfast“ lernten die Zuhörer viel von Experten. Vor allem aber ging es um das Führen und die Vertrauensbildung sowie die akustische Identität einer Marke.

Einem neuen Thema widmete sich das „Automotive Breakfast“ der FrankfurtRheinMain GmbH, das jedes Jahr bei der Internationalen Automobilausstellung ist: dem Marketing.

Das Frühstück, das in Kooperation mit dem vom Kreis Groß-Gerau mitinitiierten und unter der Schirmherrschaft von Landrat Thomas Will stehenden Automotive Cluster RheinMainNeckar organisiert wird, bewegte sich damit überraschend weit weg von den klassischen Automotive- und Technikthemen und dafür mehr hin zu einer modernen Aufgabe der Branche, auf die ein verstärktes Augenmerk fällt.

Martin Proba, Geschäftsbereichsleiter der IHK Darmstadt, legte in seiner Eröffnungsansprache die Bedeutung der Automobilindustrie für die Region Frankfurt/Rhein-Main dar und betonte die Unerlässlichkeit von nationalem sowie internationalem Networking. Untrennbar damit verbunden sei das „Branding“, sprich: der Aufbau und die Pflege einer Marke – worauf der erste Referent des Tages, Nils Seib, Direktor einer in Hamburg ansässigen PR- Agentur, in seinem Vortrag einging. Seiner Erfahrung nach ist dies die zukünftige Aufgabe in der Automobilindustrie sowie die richtige Begegnung mit Kundenerwartungen.

„Es geht um Bedeutung und Innovation“, erklärte der PR-Experte. „Kunden wollen den Marken vertrauen. Sie wollen in Prozesse eingebunden werden und wünschen sich mehr Transparenz der Hersteller.“ Verantwortung, Einbindung und Überzeugung seien die drei Grundpfeiler der Zukunft, so Seib. Innovationen kämen zu schnell. Laut Seib könnten die Kunden kein Vertrauen in ständig neue Innovationen aufbauen, da nie genug Informationen vorhanden seien. Erst erarbeitetes Vertrauen und glaubwürdige Erfahrungsberichte würden Innovation erfolgreich machen.

Das Thema Branding griff auch ein weiterer Referent, John Groves, auf. Der Direktor eines „Sound Branding“-Unternehmens erklärte die Wichtigkeit der Werbe-Jingles, deren Längen von einer halben Minute bis hin zu unter einer Sekunde reichen könnten. Sie seien der sogenannte „Turbo des Brandings“, da die kurzen Musikstücke zu einer schnelleren Informationsaufnahme führten. Auch hier folgte die Überleitung zur Branche: Egal ob Marken wie Audi, BMW, KIA oder Renault – wichtig sei allen ein individueller, einprägsamer, flexibler, prägnanter und zur Marke passender Sound.