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How Audio Branding Stories Are Told

Branding isn't just a visual thing. Sure, your brand needs an image, but it also needs sound. While using sound to reinforce brand identity used to be an afterthought for many brands, sonic branding is now a staple in the marketing space. And that's something Audrey Abreeny, two-time Emmy Award-winner and founder and CEO of Audiobrain, knows all about. Audrey joined us at VOICE Global 2021 to discuss how she got into music and what drew her to the world of sonic branding. She also shared her insights into some of the world's largest sonic branding campaigns - which she produced.

Learning the trade...

Audrey was always into music, learning to play many instruments from a very young age. Later, she joined a rock band but found that she didn't enjoy performing and thought she would eventually become a music therapist. While that didn't happen, she provided music therapy for deaf and blind children as part of a hospital program before moving on to produce musical advertising for her first production company. She didn't realize it at the time, but sonic branding would mesh perfectly with her personality.

As Audrey says, "I didn't like performing. I liked being in the studio and creating something where I have control, where I could take nothing and make something, and I could make something meaningful. I found I really loved that process. So I went to a music production company and a fantastic one. Crazy as that could be, but they did 98 percent music for advertising. And that was my boot camp."

However, about 20 years ago, ad agencies weren't very enthusiastic about “audio identities” (the initial name for sonic branding). In fact, ad agencies lacked enthusiasm because there were no royalties tied to them, unlike the ads themselves. And, because the projects were long, spanning over multiple days, there was very little return for the agencies.

Enter Audiobrain

Audrey's passion for the trade would compel her to start her own company, Audiobrain, in the nascent field of sonic branding. Having her own company meant that she would have more creative control over her work, which would enable her to take sonic branding to the next level.

"Well, there were about maybe six companies at that time, 25 or 26 years ago, that were doing Sonic branding, intentional audio. And it was funny because I found an article, while I was cleaning my office, which was written in 1998. And it discusses everything that we're doing now. It's more than your logo. It's more than your jingle. It's your call center. It's your voice. And I was fortunate to work with brands like IBM, like Microsoft, that got it; that really understood it," Audrey says.

Telling sonic stories worth Olympic gold

When you develop a sonic identity, it needs to elicit an emotional reaction; it needs to tell a story. Whether sonic or visual, a brand needs to stand for something, represent something - it requires an implicit narrative.

Audrey has since worked with some of the world's biggest brands. She's behind the sonic branding of giants such as IBM, Microsoft, and - particularly close to her heart - the Olympics. She's been the music supervisor for the last nine Olympics with NBC, and is returning to provide music support services for NBC’s production of the XXIV Olympic Summer Games, taking place in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23 – August 8.

"When we were talking about what we thought of the Olympics, we realized that there was no better organization for storytelling, sonic storytelling. Branding is storytelling. So we started to think about it, and we spoke to the different producers, and it wasn't about Rock, Pop, Jazz, or Hip Hop. It was about victory, defeat, drama, determination, and the Olympic spirit," she told us.

That's storytelling.

Missed VOICE Global live? Watch Audrey Abreeny discuss some of the high-profile campaigns she's worked on and share her insights into the world of sonic branding at VOICE Global on-demand here. View the VOICE Global speaker lineup to see what other engaging speakers joined us across various industries.

VOICE Global