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We Are All In On Purpose: Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever

Divesting off brands that do not align to a clear purpose and re-energising marketing to align with that thought process, Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope reiterates that purpose is in the very DNA of the FMCG major

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Transaction complete’ — in a world of cashless payment that has moved from swipe and insert to now even just a tap in the physical realm and different kinds of online payments, it’s the age of the multisensory. The few seconds accompanying those two words pack in a range of emotions, presenting a small window for financial brands to connect with their consumers.

This “sense of completion”, as Visa’s CMO Lynne Biggar calls it, in a “voice world”, as described by Mastercard Global CMO Raja Rajamannar, begs the all-important question, according to HSBC’s global head of advertising and marketing communications Andrea Newman — “what does a brand sound like”?

In the last two years, these are some of the brands that began a global journey looking at their brand identities, wherein sound became more critical than ever.

Sound Id: Not a Jingle
Earlier this year, HSBC teamed up with world-renowned artist Jean-Michel Jarre to create a complete sound identity and sound signature. A pioneer of electronic music who has sold over 80 million records, Jarre has created various versions of the brand’s sound identity to be used for different brand moments, touch points and across multiple global platforms.

Mastercard tapped musicians, artists and agencies from around the globe including musical innovator Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park to create its own sound identity.

Visa based its whole activation to engage consumers’ senses by using sound, animation and haptic to deliver the message.

“This is not a jingle; this is creating a brand’s identity using sound,” remarks Rajamannar.
Reiterating the difference, and its significance, Newman recalls how HSBC went back to the drawing board after revamping its visual identity to get the sonic right. “It had to be relevant to the brand DNA, it had to be uniquely us, and it had to have a life of its own in different situations and even different territories. In today’s world, there are situations where it all boils down to just the one or two seconds. That is important but it can also limit us to think about just those one or two seconds. We did not want to be limited. We wanted to be present in the slow as much as in the fast. It took us eight weeks, but we finally got the right sound identity that captured all of this,” she says.

Unchartered Territory

By and large, this version of the sonic world is new to all. Since this is a space that is yet unregulated, the opportunities for sectors other than finance, especially the ones that see heavy regulation such as pharma, for instance, are also massive.

A recent World Federation of Advertisers survey shows that even as 55 per cent of world’s largest marketers say voice will be big and on par with influencer marketing.  At present, it is still a relatively low priority among many marketers. But Rajamannar is of the opinion that this yet unchartered territory has become an imperative.

“Different companies are in different states of self-evolution. The more progressive ones are clearly seeing voice coming as a huge wave. You must get on the wave if you want to survive. Also, because this is such uncharted territory, as a marketer, you must figure out your game plan,” Rajamannar observes.

Biggar points out that the biggest challenge is the “clutter” in the complex ecosystem. “Every brand is trying to leverage the power of sensory branding. To successfully stand out, an aggressive push is needed,” she says.

The Smart in Smartphone
Jarre reminds that a sound identity can transcend language and culture to express a universal brand promise of prosperity. “Unlike a movie or an album that is frozen and final in a way, a brand is a living animal that is evolving. This was one reason why I wanted to be part of this initiative,” the maestro says, adding, “The world needs more content, we are the nucleus. In a smartphone, the smart part is us. Sonic is an important way of acknowledging that.”

According to the marketers, brands should be more experience-driven than just communication-driven. Just presence is not enough; it needs to work equally hard to amplify that presence and cash in on the novelty. As consumers migrate to ad free, advertising itself is transforming. Alternate ways to reach the consumer is required and sonic is one of the answers.

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