101 Great Minds

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Dr. Sebastian Rudolph, Vice President Communications at Porsche.

“I would like to finish by reiterating that audio is key because it’s primal and goes back to when we were born. Porsche is in the trust-building business, and the first sense with which we experience trust is by hearing our mother’s heartbeat. That’s undeniably powerful.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Dr. Sebastian Rudolph, Vice President Communications at Porsche.

“I would like to finish by reiterating that audio is key because it’s primal and goes back to when we were born. Porsche is in the trust-building business, and the first sense with which we experience trust is by hearing our mother’s heartbeat. That’s undeniably powerful.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Dr. Sebastian Rudolph

Vice President Communications at Porsche

 

“I would like to finish by reiterating that audio is key because it’s primal and goes back to when we were born. Porsche is in the trust-building business, and the first sense with which we experience trust is by hearing our mother’s heartbeat. That’s undeniably powerful.”

 Dr. Sebastian Rudolph, Vice President Communications, Porsche

 

 

Dr Sebastian Rudolph is the Vice President Communications, Sustainability and Politics at Porsche AG. Prior to joining the company, he held various senior positions within distinguished companies, including Bilfinger, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and Bavarian Television (ARD Network). An industry mastermind and an alumnus of Georgetown University, Dr Rudolph is working towards significantly transforming Porsche’s communication strategies.

Uli Reese: Tell me about your role at Porsche.

Sebastian Rudolph: 
I’m responsible for several great areas: starting with communications and all its different forms, externally and internally, followed by sustainability – dealing with stakeholders in this field – and ending with governmental affairs.

Reese: The car world has a wonderful history with all things visual, but how do you see audio evolving in the industry and, with podcasts and autonomous driving in mind, how important is it?


Sebastian:
Audio starts before we’re even born. The first thing we hear is our mother’s heartbeat. So, we all begin this life with sound, and it evolves continually through our lives. It’s always there, and audio has been given a strong push over the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. You mention podcasts, so let me give you an example of the functioning ‘ecosystem’ we have at Porsche. For instance, since the 1950s we have the printed Christophorus magazine for customers and friends of the brand. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been offering a very attractive digital version of the Christophorus as well. Secondly, we have our online Newsroom coverage and a lot of video content – such as the web TV magazine 9:11. In August 2020, we launched the Porsche Podcast. If you want to compare the different milestones within this ecosystem, it started with print 70 years ago, and it’s now being propelled forward with podcasts. In fact, the Next Visions x HoBB podcast also began during the pandemic, in 2020.

“Porsche is in the trust-building business, and the first sense with which we experience trust is by hearing our mother’s heartbeat. That’s undeniably powerful.”

Reese: The relationship between cars and sound is changing, at least with the whisper of electric vehicles. How is Porsche addressing this, in terms of the consumer experience and the potential economic consequences?

Sebastian: There are several reasons why people fulfil the dream of buying a Porsche. Firstly, it’s the brand itself – it is very much rooted in trust, perfection and emotion. One sees the brand and makes the basic assumption that a Porsche will be the best sportscar one can purchase. Secondly, it’s the timeless design that Porsche offers. If you see a 911 from the 1970s, you know that it’s the same timeless design as it is today. So, if you want to own a 911, you know what you’re getting. Although the design has changed over time, there is a thorough line with the brand that is unique. When it comes to audio, there is a typical Porsche sound. We recently had the world premiere of the new 911 GT3, and you just know that if you were to start the engine and listen, you’d fall in love. Ten years ago, it would have been just the same. This is the traditional 911 style.

Reese: What about the sound of the Taycan – the first all-electric sports car from Porsche?

Sebastian:
With electric cars, there is a new game to play.  Our engineers had to think hard about how the Porsche Taycan should sound. They developed a very futuristic soundtrack, which also had to be authentic: the result is pure Porsche, but in an electronic age. If you were to start and drive a Taycan ten years from now, you would always remember the sound. That’s the power of audio.

“If you test-drive a fully electric Porsche, it still feels like you’re driving a Porsche. You have that 100 per cent Porsche feeling.”

Reese: If you look at best practice cases in branding, the 911 is a great example. But many CEOs ask what’s the best practice case in sonic branding, where the visual is so strong. There are very few good examples, but I would have to go with James Bond. What are your thoughts on this?

Sebastian: Well, I have talked about the Porsche Podcast and about authenticity. We created a key visual for the podcast – with the 911. All eight generations of the 911 are timeless, right? We then created an audio logo inspired by the Taycan, combining the traditional and new. If I were to ask what Apple’s ‘audio logo’ is, the answer would be that they don’t have one because it doesn’t matter – they make what are probably the best products in the world. It’s like the 911: we have this timeless design atop a key visual. But what’s the sound logo? If you were to start the engine, you’d know.

There are some powerful brands delivering powerful and innovative products featuring timeless designs, which absolutely works. Sound is an opportunity for some brands to lift up, and for others, like Apple and Porsche, there is still an unmet need. If they could create a powerful sound logo as well as offering timeless design and a super product, then ‘bam’ they’ve hit the next level.

Reese: The VP of Design at Google, Ivy Ross, said: “If you don’t have confidence in yourself to figure out what that Sonic watermark is, it’s much easier to grab something that will make you popular, like a hit tune or a pop star, but it doesn’t last over time – culture changes.”

Sebastian:
On the subject of confidence, I’m with Ivy. In the world of sport, if your confidence, technique, mental and physical fitness aren’t there, you’d better not go out on to the pitch. It’s like that in business too. As for borrowing identity, at Porsche, we try to stick to a sound that genuinely fits our DNA. If I take a chart song, this might be a good step because it’s in the charts, and so many people love it. But does it fit the brand and what I am trying to communicate? I don’t know. So, we look first at the DNA of our product and our culture and then at what audio might fit both. If you can nail that, then you’re there.

Reese: Mark Phillips, who is VP at McKinsey Digital Labs, said: “My analogy is that a sonic logo is like a name badge, while a DNA-driven sonic identity is like meeting somebody in person.”

Sebastian:
Nicely put. I think that says it all!

Reese: Thank you so much. Before we sign off, do you have any final thoughts to leave us with?

Sebastian:
I would like to finish by reiterating that audio is key because it’s primal and goes back to when we were born. Porsche is in the trust-building business, and the first sense with which we experience trust is by hearing our mother’s heartbeat. That’s undeniably powerful.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Toby Southgate, Worldwide CEO at Brand Union.

“The connection between words, pictures and music is incredibly powerful and delicate, but nobody appreciates the cost of taking care of the music part properly.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Toby Southgate, Worldwide CEO at Brand Union.

“The connection between words, pictures and music is incredibly powerful and delicate, but nobody appreciates the cost of taking care of the music part properly.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

TOBY SOUTHGATE

Worldwide CEO, Brand Union

 

“The connection between words, pictures and music is incredibly powerful and delicate, but nobody appreciates the cost of taking care of the music part properly.”

 

 Worldwide CEO, Brand Union

 

 

As the Worldwide CEO of Brand Union, Toby Southgate manages all of Brand Union’s international teams and collaborates with other WPP agencies in an effort to continue to build truly global client brands. Southgate has been with Brand Union since 2008, and has held a number of roles within the agency, including Managing Director of Brand Union Middle East, CEO of Brand Union UK and most recently, CEO of the Americas. In his latest role, he helped grow the agency’s footprint facilitating the acquisition of Epigram – a Brazilian branding, identity and communications agency in 2014. Southgate has been a key player in the agency’s business development over the last eight years, bringing in major clients like The Coca-Cola Company, Shazam, GlaxoSmithKline and CBRE. A man not unfamiliar with the inside of an airplane, Southgate has lived in six different countries. He was born in London and educated at Millfield School and The University of Edinburgh, where he studied economics and history.

Reese: You don’t have an audio department at Brand Union, is that correct?

Southgate:
Correct. We’re not a huge business. Having everything in-house would be out of scale for us. We’re part consulting function, part creative agency.

Reese: Why is it that a lot of brands are so arbitrary when it comes to their audio? They’re very disciplined visually, but sonically, they’re all over the place. Why is that?


Southgate:
I think brands have always cared about semiotics – the visual codes of recognition, and these are largely driven by color. If you think of a green beer – that’s Heineken. If you think of a red and white soft drink – it’s Coke. Very few brands have succeeded at the sonic equivalent. Maybe Intel… the Intel ‘Ping’ is a sonic code. What brands haven’t done is create music that has become popular in contemporary culture. Brands historically invest in visual codes and equities first.

Reese: But our ability to remember a melody is way more advanced than our ability to remember visuals. In the late stages of their illness, Alzheimer’s patients still recall songs from their childhood. We’re not doing music justice for what it achieves in the process. It’s something most of my interviewees in the first edition of the book acknowledged.

Southgate: I’m sure they would also acknowledge that the world in which they work is now on a device, a machine, more than it is on broadcast TV or in print. In an environment where you can influence through sound and audio, and through music, the creative product has changed a little, but it hasn’t been a revolution to the point where they’re thinking about sound and music first. I just finished reading the autobiography of Moby, the musician. He’s an artist, a thinker, overall just a very creative person – but the thing he ultimately became famous for is when he made an album that sought commercial success. He chose to license every single track from the album, specifically for the purpose of licensing for advertising, TV content, a movie soundtrack. Does that mean he was abandoning his artistic integrity? Was it a business decision? I wonder if there’s a classic battle between creativity and art.

“What brands haven’t done is create music that has become popular in contemporary culture. Brands historically invest in visual codes and equities first.

Reese: There is, but it has changed compared to twenty or thirty years ago, when producing music for advertising was seen as ‘selling out’. That’s in the past. Today, it works – look at Red Bull, look at Coca-Cola, and their collaboration with musicians. Horseshoeing an audio logo on top of your brand, a five-note motif, that’s in the past. I often compare brands to people. I think a brand’s behavior is comparable to a human being’s behavior – the style, the way they move, the way they talk, and, of course, the way they sound. That’s important for a brand. A brand has its own unique DNA.

Southgate:
It also has to do with heritage… the brand and the business have to recognize the value and importance of authenticity and credibility. That’s what connects with the contemporary consumer.

Reese: It’s like Adidas’ relationship with Run DMC… the band didn’t get paid by Adidas for their song ‘My Adidas’. There’s honesty to that relationship, and that is very hard to reproduce. A simple endorsement deal won’t achieve that, because with endorsements, the brand is just looking for a quick credibility transfer from the artist to the brand. Consumers don’t want that anymore.

Southgate: I agree. In the past, things could be – in some ways – fudged over and glossed over. But we’re in a world of complete transparency now, you can find the answer to any question you like. There’s no hiding place anymore. So consumers become more alert to authenticity and credibility. You can find out immediately where a brand has come from. What is the Rudi Dassler story? What is the Adi Dassler story? What is the Mark Parker and Nike story? Where did these people come from, why are they able to build and lead relevant and interesting brands and businesses?

Reese: With that in mind, what do you think is going to be important for brands in the future?

Southgate:
Loyalty is hard to earn. And consumers are more fickle and more willing to experiment than ever before. They have more choice. So what we do to help brands succeed in the future is to help them understand a couple of major themes. One of them is how they can get comfortable with ambiguity. You can’t predict whether a brand will still be relevant, still be growing, still be attractive in the future. But if brands and businesses are comfortable acknowledging that they don’t have all the answers, that they don’t know what future holds in detail, but that they are ready with authenticity and credibility to lead organizations through periods of unpredictable change – that is very powerful. Also, a brand has to be able to define why it exists. Take, for example, Blake Mycoskie. He founded Tom’s shoes, and invented the ‘buy one, give one’ mentality – where you buy a pair of shoes from Tom’s, and they give a pair of shoes to a child in need. Versions of that model have been taken over by other companies. There’s an authentic purpose to the mission of that brand. Brands and businesses, even in toxic categories, need to have relevance for culture. It’s about how you connect to the world around you. You need to build a relationship with the humans and the audiences and the organizations you choose to align with, then take accountability and responsibility for your choices.

You have to be prepared to be judged by your successes or failures, and also willing to adapt to change and reiterate much faster than organizations have been able to in the past. Then you can build a relationship that is relevant to the consumer.

Reese: When a client comes to you, would you advise them to be as disciplined sonically as they are visually?

Southgate:
That’s an interesting question. My ‘dream client’ conversation would be one where the client is open to seeing their brand and their business as a collection of almost unlimited experiences. Any brand you choose to engage with today, you do so on your own terms. You choose the purchase channel. You choose the mode of usage. You choose the frequency of purchase. And my agency’s view is very simple: Brands are defined by the experiences they create for people. By default, most of our clients first want to have a conversation about visual equities, visual assets, and control. But we have to be able to extend the conversation into all the other experiences that they may or may not have considered. Those experiences no longer sit in a function called “marketing.” It’s what I call the consumer journey, the audience journey – an audience that includes your shareholders and also every single employee of the brand, by the way. Brands live inside organizations, and that is just as important as their outside existence. The potency of unifying an organization around its core purpose, its core ambition, is very indicative of a powerful and unifying thought, that is likely to influence and take people on a journey.

Reese: When you act in your role as a brand consultancy, how do you respond to clients asking what they should do about their audio? Have you been asked that question before? What are the main challenges?

Southgate:
Well, one is the challenge of appreciation: Audio is an asset of value, which brands and organizations could and should invest in. And then there’s an issue of quantum and cost – how do you create audio assets that can become as important and relevant a component as your brand experience and your visual assets? These things don’t often get considered together. Everyone in your previous book will have an experience of using an audio asset while pitching an idea, and the connection between words, pictures and music is incredibly powerful and delicate, but then nobody appreciates the cost of taking care of the music part properly. Whether you’re originating content, because you need something that can stand up alongside licensed content and become as relevant or resonant for you, or the pure cost of licensing something that is recognizable. My wife is a sound engineer, and she was constantly briefed by advertising agency as follows: “I want to use X piece of music, but I can’t afford the licensing, so I want you to create something that sounds a bit like it.” Which is of course utterly destructive to a brand experience. People know. The reaction is “Oh, is that an Iggy Pop track? No, it’s a crap, tinny, instrumental-on-a-keyboard version of an XX track”.

Reese: It’s like promising lobster and then delivering imitation crabmeat.

Southgate:
Exactly! That’s a great analogy. But I also think it’s an example of the transparent flow of information that I mentioned. If you as a brand or a brand owner are discovered as having ripped off a piece of music by The Rolling Stones, or the XX, or Calvin Harris, then that’s a negative experience for your consumers. Wherever you sit along that brand’s engagement journey, you’re not going to have a good opinion.

Reese: That’s why I’m saying that brands should team up with these artists, to create a soundtrack that fits the brand.

Southgate:
I wonder how many artists became successful because they were pushed by organizations or brands. We’ve all sat in restaurants and hotels beforehand, pre-Shazam, and asked: “What’s this music?” Now you Shazam it, and it’s instant gratification. But you also make a judgement on whether that’s a positive or a negative experience.

Reese: It’s also interesting to see that in other environments, like retail. You can steer how long people are staying, if they are going to buy anything, et cetera – just by the choice of music that you play.

Southgate:
That’s interesting. You’re right. The world of communications is the wrong way round when it thinks advertising has to come first. If the first thing you address are the visuals and a tagline, you know, that’s trying to live in a house before you know what materials you’re going to use. Olfactory is hard to create and deliver, obviously. But it isn’t hard to deliver a piece of music, especially nowadays, as it exists electronically. It’s something the brand should own, and should think about.

Reese: We’re in trust-building business. As a brand, I can’t buy your trust. And I can very quickly lose your trust. It’s comparable to lying; you can tell subconsciously whether I’m lying once my voice doesn’t match the expression on my face. Even if I’m a really good liar, there’s something you detect on a subconscious level. Likewise, as a brand, it’s really important to be consistent at the audio consumer touchpoints.

Southgate:
That is a critical component of authenticity. Great brands are synonymous with and defined by experiences, and they understand that those experiences are a collection of sensations – whether visual or audio, or olfactory – and every single one of them has to be considered and has to be beautifully connected to the other. That’s success. They all have to be brilliantly designed, written, or brilliantly delivered through music. So that notion – brilliantly designed and beautifully connected – is a very potent driver for me for the organization we want to be and all the work we want to do for our clients. And I think that the unfortunate thing, as much as brands have become defined by visual assets, they have also become synonymous in our world with a logo, a badge. That’s as far removed from the future of powerful, effective, evocative, emotional connections with brands as I can imagine. So my desperate hunger for Brand Union is that all of our people and all of our clients think about that.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Monica Rustgi Mody, VP Marketing, Budweiser.

”Music is another dimension for people to feel what your brand is.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Monica Rustgi Mody, VP Marketing, Budweiser.

”Music is another dimension for people to feel what your brand is.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Monica Rustgi Mody

VP Marketing at Budweiser

 

“Music is another dimension for people to feel what your brand is.”

 

 Monica Rustgi Mody, VP Marketing, Budweiser.

 

 

Monica Rustgi Mody is currently the Vice President of Marketing for Budweiser. During her time on Budweiser, the brand has seen restored and sustained brand health trends for the first time in 10 years.  During her time, Budweiser’s creative work, which includes the last four Super Bowl campaigns, collectively has been awarded a total of ten (10) Cannes Lions, six (6) Clios Sports awards, and nine (9) Clio awards.  All such work has landed Monica on Ad Age’s “40 under 40” as well as being deemed by Ad Week as one of the “30 Most Powerful Women in Sports”. Prior to working at Budweiser, Monica held a career in the music industry both as a recording artist and producer, signed to Grammy Award winning producer Cory Rooney.  She has also written and produced for Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull during her time in the music industry.  From there, she attended MIT Sloan School of Management, where she earned her MBA.

Uli Reese: What is your role at the brand?

Monica Rustgi:
I lead marketing at Budweiser. My job is to put out work that is creative, and that builds people’s hearts for Budweiser. It’s everything from a Superbowl spot to a sign in the store as you’re buying the beer. It’s about bringing the brand to life so that it disrupts beyond being just a liquid in a can.

Reese: Your background is in music. Tell me a little bit about that.


Monica Rustgi:
I was born to Indian immigrant parents and spent my childhood singing Indian classical music, even competing nationally. I played the sitar, the tabla and the piano. Once I got to 16, I wanted a social life, so I stopped. I went to Business School in New York, but while I was an undergraduate, I realised I didn’t want to sit at a desk and crunch numbers. I took a year out and, in that time, met my production partner. I made a demo, and before the end of that year, I had three major label offers. In my final year of school, I recorded my album and started writing for other artists, including Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull. I had a song called 100 Dollar Bill that had c-list success. But I came to a point where I was tired of being the brand. I was creative and liked to reach people, so the next best thing was marketing. I joined ABI and have been with them for seven years. I get to work with amazing artists and put out albums with every new campaign. Music and creativity are part of everything I do.

Reese: How important is music and sound in building a brand?

Monica: It’s another dimension for people to feel what your brand is. It can play different parts. It can be a support piece or be highly dynamic, but I don’t think it’s valued enough as a point of distinction. The biggest hurdle is that not a lot of people understand music or speak the language of music.

Reese: How do you combat the fact that music is often seen as an afterthought?

Monica:
In the same way you take a full hour to discuss a treatment and which directory you are going to use, there should be an actual meeting about audio. It’s so important that it’s not rushed at the end because that means a decision is made on cost. We have productions where we make sure we discuss music, like a Superbowl spot, because music plays a huge role and is a huge investment. But just because you can’t afford the perfect song, if you bake in the time, you can actually get something that is just as strong.

Reese: CMO’s don’t like relying on music companies and licensing because they are being told they cannot own but rent. Should that change?

Monica: First and foremost, music is complex. Publishers, songwriters, label and producers are all competing for attention. But I think labels today have it wrong. Back in the day, there were maybe ten legends popular at any time, and today it’s one person every four or five years. Lady Gaga comes to mind. Labels used to have all the power, but they don’t anymore. They need us. If we offer a Superbowl spot that’s going to get millions of views, the labels should give us the music for free. It’s short-sighted not to because of the digital life they go on to have. That longer exposure turns into concert tickets sales, and they would ultimately make way more money.

Reese: Do you think brands should have a sonic style guide?

Monica:
I think the more you can codify something, the better. Everyone then has a shared language to articulate what they are thinking. Then when they can’t afford the music, or the label is charging too much for a well-known song, they have a clear way to brief a composer or creative. Many times, the creative team asks me to speak to the audio engineer because I speak better to music, but sometimes even I don’t have the right repertoire.

Reese: How important will sonic identity be in the future?

Monica:
People are already evolving to audio; look at the boom in podcasts and audiobooks. There are so many distractions, and music is a compelling way to get people’s attention. How that comes to life is tough to know. Brands sometimes feel that in order to feel relevant, they must create something new every time, but that’s not necessarily true. I think it just needs to be interesting enough to hear over and over. 

Reese: Is there a trust building factor when it comes to audio?

Monica:
We’re living in an age where people like to hear the things they’re familiar with. Because of how we digest media, we can tune out very easily now, so if you’re transported to a place where it doesn’t take a lot of effort to recognise something, it’s a plus.

“We’re living in an age where people like to hear the things, they’re familiar with. Because of how we digest media, we can tune out very easily now, so if you’re transported to a place where it doesn’t take a lot of effort to recognise something, it’s a plus.”


Reese: How do you view the idea that smart speakers will be the consumers and decision-makers of tomorrow?

Monica:
It goes back to anything that makes life easier, but I think they will be. It’s scary because it will make us less patient. Interestingly, in this quarantine world, we’ve been brought back to basics, but I think this will happen. I just don’t know when.

Reese: Why are brands so late to the sonic party?

Monica:
I have an Alexa and probably use two percent of its potential. When I think about why brands have been slow to pick this up, I think the reason is that it’s tough to quantify the impact of music. When we test ads, we should also be testing the music. But it’s so subjective, and people are still figuring it out.  

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Craig Lyon, Senior Brand Director, North America at Nike.

“Would love your thoughts on what quote to use given the updates! Turned one piece below blue that could be good, but you tell me once you’ve had a read.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Craig Lyon, Senior Brand Director, North America at Nike.

“Would love your thoughts on what quote to use given the updates! Turned one piece below blue that could be good, but you tell me once you’ve had a read.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Craig Lyon

Senior Brand Director, North America at Nike

 

“Multitasking, especially for today’s youth, is no longer multitasking, it’s life. Everyone is doing, and listening to, four, five, six things at once, all the time. The ability for brands to cut through the literal noise and trigger a response is something only audio can do.”

 

 Craig Lyon, Senior Brand Director, North America, Nike

 

 

Craig Lyon, a ten-year Ex-Nike marketing veteran, is a charismatic global business leader with year-over-year success in driving brand affinity, consumer demand and growth through game-changing brand initiatives and a natural ability to unify and energize diverse teams. His journey with Nike started as an internship that led to opportunities in advertising, digital platform design, social media and brand management before taking on leadership roles in the Global Basketball and North America marketing teams.

Uli Reese: Can you talk about your previous role at Nike.

Craig Lyon:
In my role as a territory lead at Nike, my team was responsible for bringing brand activations, communications and retail experiences to life across the central United States and Canada. Not only were we bringing global brand messages and services to consumers across our region, especially through digital platforms during the pandemic, we also reverse-engineered that process by mining stories from our marketplace to share up and out with the world. Our ability to leverage the global power of the brand to lift, aid and propel the pursuits of individuals in our communities was without question my favorite part of my time in territory.

Reese: How important is the sense of hearing in terms of brand building?


Craig:
Consider this, the first form of trust children develop is the sound and recognition of their mother’s voice.  So even before birth, your ears are the instruments developing feelings of comfort, of safety.  Now think about the way brands build messaging, especially in film.  In my experience, it starts with the question; what is the emotion we’re trying to draw out of you? What are we trying to help you to understand, believe in, believe that we believe in? Then most turn to finding the right words, the right music, the right V/O artist with the right the pacing.  All of this can happen before seeing any real visuals in the creative process.  Not only that, but these audio components become the elements brands are willing to pay for.  Because if they are wrong, the message stands no chance. You could write the most beautiful song lyrics the world has ever known, but if you put the wrong instruments and rhythm behind it, it simply won’t deliver the way it does on paper. I’ve always loved being a part of briefing sessions where music is used during a read along. By using audio in these early stages to stir up emotions in the creative team that you hope consumers will feel, you give them real feelings to run with as they dive into the work.

Reese: Agencies feel pressure when they show a campaign to a client to walk in with a piece of pop culture. Why?

Craig: Not having worked at an agency, I won’t pretend to know the origin of this pressure from experience.  But I imagine it’s often self-inflicted and rooted in preconceived expectations of the results, often quantitative, the client wants.  Ironically, I say that because I’ve found that clients often misstep in agency briefings with similar preconceived expectations, in this case, expectations of what the agency wants in a brief.  Ultimately going too deep and hindering the creative freedom that allows breakthrough work to come to life. 

Reese: Do you agree that Nike leverages pop culture?

Craig:
Sure, that’s fair to say.  I’d also add that brands like Nike have the ability to create pop culture on their own accord if their willing to put in the work.

As the athletic and sportswear industry leans further into the arts and fashion, the best partnerships will be focused on the creation of new pop cultural currency, vs. latching on to whatever is at the top of the charts. Those who build genuine partnerships from the inside out that fuse the values and creativity between two parties to create pop culture will rise above the noise of others hitching a ride on the energy of someone else’s resonance with their desired consumer.

Reese: It is easy to lose a sense of the brand when you pivot towards pop culture…

Craig: Absolutely, but for me during my time with Nike, the center point of the brand and our work was always sport and specifically the athlete.  Pop culture was, and still is, a source of energy and storytelling, but it was never on equal footing with sport. I’ve always believed this unwavering commitment to sport is Nike’s great advantage and distinguishing factor against the competition.

“Multitasking, especially for today’s youth, is no longer multitasking, it’s life. Everyone is doing, and listening to, four, five, six things at once, all the time.  The ability for brands to cut through the literal noise and trigger a response is something only audio can do.”

Reese: Do you see audio growing in importance in branding?

Craig:
My daughter is just over a year old, and she knows the sound Netflix makes when we turn on the TV to play her cartoons.  As soon as she hears it, you’re likely to see her drop what she’s doing, walk to her little chair and sit down to tune in.  Even this early in her life, she can immediately recognize the meaning of the sound, along with countless others, and trigger a response.  Multitasking, especially for today’s youth, is no longer multitasking, it’s life. Everyone is doing, and listening to, four, five, six things at once, all the time.  The ability for brands to cut through the literal noise and trigger a response is something only audio can do.

Reese: You said at the start that sound is the first experience of trust. Can you expand on that?

Craig: 
Beyond sound being the first foundational building block of trust for a child, it’s wild to think about how dependent we are on audio as a superior trigger to action in our everyday lives.  Seeing the fire truck, even with all its lights flashing, requires you to be looking up and in the right direction to know it’s coming.  But when those sirens go off, you immediately understand what’s happening and can take action before ever seeing the truck. 

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Doug Zarkin, Omni Channel Chief Marketing & Brand Officer at Pearle Vision.

“The “in” of “innovation” stands for insight’. You would be a fool not to appreciate the power of audio /sonic in your marketing today. Recognise that you will always be chasing innovation from areas such as this, but chase it with a plan, driven from an insight.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Doug Zarkin, Omni Channel Chief Marketing & Brand Officer at Pearle Vision.

“The “in” of “innovation” stands for insight’. You would be a fool not to appreciate the power of audio /sonic in your marketing today. Recognise that you will always be chasing innovation from areas such as this, but chase it with a plan, driven from an insight.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Doug Zarkin

Omni Channel Chief Marketing & Brand Officer at Pearle Vision

 

“The “in” of “innovation” stands for insight’. You would be a fool not to appreciate the power of audio /sonic in your marketing today. Recognise that you will always be chasing innovation from areas such as this, but chase it with a plan, driven from an insight.”

 

 Doug Zarkin, Omni Channel Chief Marketing & Brand Officer, Pearle Vision

 

Recognized as a global strategic retail and brand marketing expert, Doug Zarkin has led the transformation of Pearle Vision’s (A division of Luxottica) global strategic marketing, digital platform, visual merchandising, product promotion, and retail footprint. During the course of his career, Doug has earned an impressive array of honors for his marketing and brand building work including; ANA Genius Award, Brandweek’s Constellation Award, a Silver Clio Award and multiple Effie Awards. Doug was recently named a Retail Innovator Award Winner and was recognized by his peers as Top 40 Over 40 and Innovative Marketer of The Year by The CMO Club. He’s previously been named “Marketer of the Next Generation” by Brandweek.
His public presence includes appearances on all of the major broadcast networks and business publications and frequently lecturers on the subject of brand marketing at many top universities, such as Harvard, NYU, Duke, Cornell, Xavier, The George Washington University, Miami of Ohio, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work at Pearle Vision is currently the subject of a Harvard Business School case study on brand rejuvenation.


Reese: Tell me about your role at Pearle Vision.

Doug Zarkin:
I am the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Pearle Vision, responsible for all consumer-facing activities relating to the brand; all advertising, customer relationships, marketing, our entire digital platform and our product promotion strategy. Anything that seeks to connect the brand and attract new and retain existing consumers falls under my purview.

Reese: How important is voice, music and sound in branding in your experience?


Doug:
In a cluttered media marketplace the opportunity to break through and resonate is something that all marketers are looking for. A brand like Pearle Vision was looking to romance our story and make an emotional connection. Pearle has an iconic jingle – ‘nobody cares for eyes more than Pearle’ – actually I wouldn’t even call it a jingle, I would call it an audio mnemonic that I brought back in 2015 from the early eighties and 90’s.. It elicits nostalgia for what we stood for then and what we stand for…genuine eye care. The integration and modernization of that audio has been an incredibly important branding signal. We’re now working with an organisation to help us create the right environmental tracks for a four-walled experience. An eye exam and finding that perfect pair can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour so creating the right atmosphere is incredibly important.

Reese: Talk a little bit about how you revived that process?

Doug: As part of my on-boarding with the business I wanted to take a couple steps backwards to our heyday in the eighties and 90’s before charting the course forward. In looking at the asset pool of what our prime target audience (GenX-ers) remember, one of the things was the iconic Pearle audio mnemonic. I felt strongly that it was a way to speak to our heritage as a market leader without overdoing it. A jingle can bring back a vivid memory for somebody so I was pretty aggressive in my desire to bring it back. We’ve kept the integrity of the audio intact but we’ve modernised it. We use different instrumentation and we use different pacing. You don’t have to create something from scratch in order to create something new. We had this set of notes and we’ve put a modern take on it.

Reese: Can you expand on the way you’re working with a company to create your point of sale environment?

Doug:
We’ve provided them with a really good diagnostic on who our target audience is, both demographically and psycho-graphically. We’ve given them certain keywords and cues that we want the patient in our Eye Care Center to understand and appreciate about our brand. They look to match up a mixture of music and genres to help create that environment. It’s absolutely an art not a science.

Reese: In terms of voice, does Pearle Vision have its own voice?

Doug: Our brand really focuses on an archetype that we call the ‘chief health officer’; female, head of household, making the health and wellness decisions. The right voiceover and audio can create depth, frivolity and passion. Also, a big part of our brand is local radio because these are voices that connect with consumers at neighbourhood level. There isn’t a single voice for Pearle Vision that we use because frankly there isn’t a single consumer that we go after.

Reese: What would you advise fellow CMO’s if they are unnerved by the growth of sonic?

Doug:
The first thing I would say is take a deep breath. Don’t operate your marketing platform on FOMO a fear of missing out. I don’t ascribe to the belief that you have to have a single environment strategy. Consumers are not living in the world of Alexa for example, nor are they living in just the audio world. They are exposed to multiple degrees of stimulus. Those that are driving themselves crazy trying to figure out what their audio positioning is first must ask themselves what the Alexa or Google platforms are delivering today or possibly tomorrow for your business? There’s this unnecessary panic that you have to have one. No, you don’t at least not yet. 

“As you approach opportunities like sonic and audio, recognise that its power lies in its ability to help accentuate the emotional connection required to help drive that emotional decision in your favour.”

Reese: So what do you see when you look at the future of sonic?

Doug:
We’re evolving into a more hands-free access climate for almost everything digitally. If I sold consumables I would want to have a strategy where somebody could say, ‘Google or Alexa order me X’. [But the way, my Alexa has just kicked on as I said this!] But it shouldn’t be a one dimensional aspect of your marketing plan. So my answer is to say that you would be a fool not to understand the power of sonic in your marketing today but recognise that you will always be chasing innovation but chase it with a plan, driven by an insight.

Reese: Is there anything else you want to say before we wrap up?

Doug:
Yes, and it’s a statement that has helped guide the evolution of Pearle Vision. It’s this: people make emotional decisions before they make rational choices. A consumer is going to emotionally decide to trust you. They are going to trust you with their money and in our case trust you with their eye care before they make a rational choice to visit you. As you approach opportunities like sonic and audio, recognise that its power lies in its ability to help accentuate the emotional connection required to help drive that emotional decision in your favour.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Jill Baskin, CMO at Hershey Company.

”It’s important that you think about sound and to your point; you must have an appreciation, you can’t just slap it on. You must understand how it works.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Jill Baskin, CMO at Hershey Company.

”It’s important that you think about sound and to your point; you must have an appreciation, you can’t just slap it on. You must understand how it works.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Jill Baskin

CMO Hershey Company

 

“It’s important that you think about sound and to your point; you must have an appreciation; Sound can’t just be slapped on. It needs to have a defined role, a strategic reason for being used.”

 

 Jill Baskin, CMO Hershey Company

 

 

Jill Baskin is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Hershey Company.
A marketing genius at heart, Ms. Baskin’s in-depth expertise has seen her land in high-profile lists, such as the Top 25 CMOs in the World list. Prior to joining The Hershey Company, Ms. Baskin was the VP of Global Brand Strategy and Communications for Mondelēz International, where her creative excellence transformed famous global brands such as Oreo, Honey Maid, Club Social, Cadbury, Trident, TUC and many others.

Uli Reese: Tell me about your role as CMO of The Hershey Company?

Jill Baskin:
Different CMO rules have different groups reporting into them, but ours is very communication-based. We have an in-house agency that was created in the time that I’ve been here, and we have media and design reporting into the structure.

Reese: Looking back over your career, how important has sonic been in terms of brand building?


Jill:
It’s funny because I thought I hadn’t done much in the area of sound, but I now realise that isn’t entirely true. When I was a brand-new AE, I had two really formative experiences at Leo Burnett; I worked on the United Airlines account and the two brilliant creative directors Greg Taubeneck, and Bud Watts called the account team into their office, and Greg pulled out a vinyl record that he’d got from the local library – that’s how long ago it was. He put it on and said this is going to be the new advertising for United Airlines. It was Rhapsody In Blue by George Gershwin. That was in 1980, and it’s still being used. It was right at that moment when airlines had been deregulated, and United needed to go after business travellers. We also had a campaign running where we told stories on radio and used the actor Gene Hackman. This was before actors were commonly used for advertising, so these were two formative experiences where I really learned about the power of sound.

Reese: What do you think about the dominance of audio now, and where do you think it’s going?

Jill: We haven’t used audio that much at Hershey partially because the screenless ecosystem you’re talking about is irrelevant to us. Alexa is not an impulse purchase medium, but Amazon online is, so when you’re making a grocery list and shopping on Amazon then it becomes more important. People don’t tend to use Alexa and say, ‘Add Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to my order’. It’s just not a habit, but maybe it will be in the future. Right now, a visual cue is more effective. For instance, when I joined the company, they were showing the Reese’s cups as a whole cup. It was computer-generated imagery, and I changed it to a photograph of the cup with a bite taken out of it. Everyone said, ‘That’ll look too messy’ and I actually had to do a shoot to show them how attractive it could be and it increased our sales dramatically. That visual cue for a product like candy, where you almost need to be just a little naughty to buy it, is so strong. Maybe there’s an auditory cue for that, but visual is so strong I haven’t had to. Music that tracks behind some of the advertising has brought a certain relevance to the work; a Kraft campaign is still running to this day, and it’s 11 or 12 years old now. We used the song Spreading a Little Love by Life Size Humans for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and it’s still running. It just feels so right and provided a really strong for the cue for the brand. 

Reese: A study says that 70% of Gen Z don’t look at a track a brand uses instead, they look at how a brand deals with music, or how authentic they are…

Jill:
It feels the same way with voiceovers too. Mercedes-Benz uses Jon Hamm’s voice – and he has a lovely voice and is a good storyteller – but to me, there is no connection between those two. On the other hand Ving Rhames for Arby’s saying ‘We have the meats’, is just so perfectly done and the most authentic connection of human uttering a line. That, to me, is where you’ve gotten your money’s worth using a celebrity.

Reese: Pop culture is often used as a placeholder in lieu of a better decision-making process. Does that resonate with you?

Jill:
It does, and it doesn’t. On one hand, Rhapsody in Blue was not an expensive piece of music, and it wasn’t a popular piece of music, but it fit the campaign. Same with Spread a Little Love. I think when you make that argument in a boardroom, it works. What doesn’t work is a board that hasn’t been thought through. We’re working on a campaign right now that I think is a really interesting idea which is a love song that translates the relationship between parent and child for Hershey Kisses. So thinking about famous love songs and there was one that spoke to me when my first child was young, which was Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. I remember looking at the baby and thinking exactly that. It’s a love song – and wasn’t meant as romantic love – but it felt like the right thing in regard to my child. It’s so simple, and it so perfectly matches. To me, selling two or three songs like that is a sales job, and I will lay it back on the agency to prove the worth of the song.

“It’s important that you think about sound and to your point; you must have an appreciation; Sound can’t just be slapped on. It needs to have a defined role, a strategic reason for being used.”

Reese: Should there be a shareable sonic brand book?

Jill:
It makes sense. I live and die by my visual identities, and we’re very strict with them at Hershey, so that makes all the sense in the world to me. However, I’m mostly annoyed by sonic identities as a consumer. To me, it should be entertaining and something that I am happy to hear that reminds me of the brand. It almost feels in this day and age, that they put a chip in my head with these little three notes. Right now, one that I do love is Cruisin’ the Smoky Robinson track for Allstate Drivewise about smooth driving. Every time I hear it, it makes me smile.

Reese: The three-second mnemonic it’s an old idea now. There is no best practice case although, I cite James Bond as an example of a benchmark for sonic that can be identified in two seconds…

Jill:
That’s what I’m talking about. As a client, I found that working with people who understand the music is important. I come from a musical family – my dad’s a musician – so I know how important it is. Mcgarrybowen has put a lot of money into their music department, and having people involved who are musicians and who also love music. It’s important that you think about sound and to your point; you must have an appreciation, you can’t just slap it on. You must understand how it works.

Reese: Do you see sonic branding as something The Hershey Company may embrace further moving forward?

Jill:
We touched on it a little bit earlier but sometimes having sounds  associated with your brand are hard. We have a Kit Kat jingle, ‘Give me a break’, from the sixties that has bedevilled us. We’ve tried to update it, but people love it. It’s meaningful to them, and it holds a place in their lives. Getting rid of something like that is hard. You have to know when to keep it and when to get rid of it.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Amandine Robin, Senior Vice President North America, Communications & Sustainability at Pernod Ricard.

“While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Amandine Robin, Senior Vice President North America, Communications & Sustainability at Pernod Ricard.

“While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Amandine Robin

Senior Vice President North America, Communications & Sustainability at Pernod Ricard

 

“While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience.”

 

 Amandine Robin, Senior Vice President North America, Communications & Sustainability, Pernod Ricard

 

 

Amandine Robin assumed the role of SVP, Communications, Sustainability & Responsibility for Pernod Ricard North America in October 2016. In her current role, she manages both corporate and brand communications. Her goal: to enter iconic brands such as Jameson, Absolut, and G.H. Mumm into the cultural zeitgeist – from media, digital, to TV shows and movies.

Uli Reese: Let’s start by looking at the importance of music in branding…

Amandine Robin:
When you think how branding has evolved from when all you had was newsprint in black and white, we are now able to connect with consumers on a completely different level. Music can give your brand a unique quality, particularly as consumers are increasingly engaging with their ears, not their eyes.

Reese: Is voice factored into your customer experience at Pernod Ricard?


Amandine:
For some of our brands, it is paramount. Absolut Vodka is a great example where we’ve done several big integrated partnerships with Swedish House Mafia and more recently with the pop star Lizzo. In both of these cases, their newly released songs worked hand in hand with one of our newly released products. With Swedish House Mafia, it was the iconic “Greyhound” song and music video which was released simultaneously as our “Absolut Greyhound” bottle. In the same timeframe, Absolut also provided a unique experience to concert-goers as the band went on their world tour. With Lizzo, we connected with her just before she became the well-known pop artist she is today and partnered on her “Juice” song, which happened to coincide with our “Absolut Juice” product release.

Reese: How did you choose Lizzo and Swedish House Mafia for these campaigns?

Amandine: It’s not a linear process. It starts with culture and consumer insights. In the case of Absolut, it meant understanding what Gen Z and millennials care about: their frustrations, passions, and what is happening in their world at the moment. We have tools and teams dedicated to this process. From there, we see who can be the best fit. Lizzo was authentic, spoke her mind, stood for the same values we did as a brand. It was a perfect fit.

Reese: I can detect Absolut out of a million bottles but musically I have no clue what the brand sounds like, except that it associates with pop culture. Has Pernod Ricard ever thought about having a sonic identity?

Amandine:
At the moment, we are doing an in-depth exercise for our brands to uncover their true, timeless, DNA: understanding what they were all about 50 years ago and what they will still be about in 50 years. From there, we can develop truly impactful timely campaigns based on human stories and insights. In that second stage, communicating these stories through visuals and sound will be paramount.

Reese: We are looking at $40 billion in sales in the screenless eco-system by the end of 2021. Is that relevant to Pernod Ricard?

Amandine: Absolutely. Music and sound are playing a much more important role in the new digital age. While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience. Not surprisingly, the most popular social media app right now is TikTok, which is based on music and sound. And of course, you also have all the new voice-based technologies such as Alexa and Google Home. They are all built on algorithms, so the question for us becomes: how do you connect with people through voice and be present when they search, look for you and your category?

Reese: Podcasts have exploded. Do you have a take on why visuals are moving over to audio?

Amandine:
Having just had a baby, it was fascinating to learn that hearing is something humans already develop in the womb. Mothers are told to talk to their babies so they will recognise your voice when they are born. Music is also what will calm and soothe a baby at an earlier age, more than the other senses. It tells you that there is something very primal to audio.

“Music and sound are playing a much more important role in the new digital age. While digital platforms used to be mostly about text, now video, music, and audio have taken over to give people a fully immersive experience.”

Reese: Do you think brands should have a brand book for sonic?

Amandine:
Absolutely! The same way a brand currently has brand guidelines in terms of design, tones, values. We can expect that many brands will now think of creating brand “sonic” guidelines both in the digital and physical world.

Reese: Is there a brand you admire?

Amandine:
As we are on the topic of sonic brands, I have to pick Apple, for two reasons. The first is how they have leveraged music for their iconic advertising: always leveraging up and coming artists that explode thanks to them. And second, most importantly, for how much the brand has moved audio forward – from the iPod to the new iPhone.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Anne Michels, Head of Marketing, Microsoft Teams Free.

“Sonic plays an undeniably emotional role in the life of every single human being. It can break down language and also cultural barriers.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Anne Michels, Head of Marketing, Microsoft Teams Free.

“Sonic plays an undeniably emotional role in the life of every single human being. It can break down language and also cultural barriers.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Anne Michels

Head of Marketing at Microsoft Teams Free

 

“Sonic plays an undeniably emotional role in the life of every single human being. It can break down language and also cultural barriers.”

 

 Anne Michels, Head of Marketing, Microsoft Teams Free

 

 

Anne Michels, head of marketing for Microsoft Teams Free, has been working in the tech industry for over 13 years – driving the marketing strategy for a variety of programs and products. She has more than 15 years’ experience developing and executing effective marketing strategies at-scale for Fortune 500 brands. Anne is an award-winning speaker who regularly speaks at tech and diversity conferences. She is fluent in German, English and Spanish, and lives with her family – her husband Michael and their daughter Tori – in Seattle.

Uli Reese: Talk to me about your role at Microsoft.

Anne Michels:
I lead Product Marketing for the free version of Microsoft Teams and my role is twofold; my team works very closely with engineering to give them feedback on what we’re hearing from customers. In this way we can influence product strategy and improve the product. Then there are the traditional marketing aspects that we think about such as messaging, positioning and the right kind of thinking across all marketing and digital channels to create a holistic marketing strategy.

Reese: How important do you think sonic is in branding?


Anne:
It is very important. Sonic plays an undeniably emotional role in the life of every single human being. It can break down language and also cultural barriers. But for many marketers, it is an afterthought. Many don’t think about the important role that music plays in our lives or about the impact it has on cognitive skills like memory, attention and comprehension. For example, in many cases, it’s easier for people to remember sound than an image. This creates an opportunity for marketers. I strongly believe that if you use sound in an effective way you can create stronger connections between your brand and the consumer, and create more memorable experiences.

“Many companies overlook the fact that sound can help you to not just drive brand awareness but also deepen the relationship your brand has with your customers long-term.”

Reese: Why are brands so late to the party in their understanding of a sense that goes straight into the subconscious?

Anne: It’s an interesting question because just imagine an opening video at a conference that has no sound or a software that doesn’t play a notification sound. Looking at such examples it becomes clear that sound is a key marketing ingredient. Why is it then an afterthought for many marketers? I think one of the reasons is that that people take it for granted. They simply expect music to work for their brand. At the same time, they also see it as a risk. They are concerned that if they choose the wrong song people might not like it. And they are concerned that it will take too long for them to see impact – building a sonic identity takes time.

Reese: Traditional marketing was focused on finding a song from a famous musician that would give you immediate attention. But today that is not considered authentic anymore, so is it right to say that for the new generation of CMOs it’s a different ballgame?

Anne:
Yes. What I’ve seen become more important in marketing over the last couple of years is the notion of creating fans. When I started at Microsoft it was never something we talked about, marketing always focused on building trust. But now marketers don’t just want people to use a product, they want their users to be fans. They want people to recommend the product to somebody else. So, the question becomes how do you create fans? You need to offer an experience that’s memorable. And how can we create more memorable experiences? Through sound. Younger CMOs are aware of that, but not every company is.

Reese: Has Covid had an impact on the use of sound in marketing?

Anne: Because of Covid, many people are now sitting alone in front of their laptops all day – and while we all enjoyed it at the beginning, many are now missing the human connection from being in the office. I think what we’re experiencing is that humans are not made for a one-sensory experience, but we need multi-sensory experiences. This creates an opportunity for marketers. Because with all the devices that we use at home – laptop, cell phone, iPad, Alexa, smart watch – sound is the consistent experience. So as a marketer, you can use sound to connect the experience across all those devices and help people feel more connected.

Reese: Do you think brands should have long-term sonic strategies?

Anne:
It would be valuable. The technology we’re using is changing and there’s just so much opportunity for us to think about how we can continue to build these relationships, even with devices that don’t have a visual screen. Many companies overlook the fact that sound can help you to not just drive brand awareness but also deepen the relationship your brand has with your customers long-term.

Reese: Sales are going through the roof in terms of screenless eco-systems but are smart speakers the customers of tomorrow?

Anne:
I don’t think anybody – even three years ago – would have predicted the rise of Alexa. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend accelerates. While a lot of people use Alexa to listen to music, only few use it for other purposes, like making a call or placing an order. The next generation will show us how much they really want these smart speakers.

Reese: How does the ROI of sonic compare to other components of branding?

Anne:
I think it’s a better long term investment. When you compare the ROI of sound and video, what you realize is that video has a short lifespan – you can only use it so many times – but sonic can be reused. Because of Covid, many companies are taking a closer look at how they spend their money and where they invest – that’s why Covid could have a big impact on the importance of sonic branding.
This is especially true when you look at technology and software companies. Here, you can see that sound plays an even more important role because you have two kinds of sonic identities. You have the overall sonic identity – like McDonald’s or Mastercard has one – but you also have the product itself that has a sonic identity, for example the Windows start up sound. So investing in your sonic identity will help with ROI in two ways.

Reese: Microsoft is strong visually but moving forward would you look for more coherence in sonic?

Anne:
As technology company, naturally there has been a strong focus on the product experience. There is a big group of passionate people at Microsoft who really care about our sonic identity and work to ensure it’s deeply integrated and consistent across the various products we have. Their focus is to make sure that sound isn’t annoying for the user but functional and beautiful. From a marketing perspective, I definitely see sound becoming more important.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Quique Vivas, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at Vodafone.

“Alexa mono-directionally guides you with one’s voice. Their speakers funnel and gate-keep your interaction with the brand and that’s risky from a brand perspective. I think there are more people in the US with Amazon Prime than who voted in the last election. Brands that depend on e-commerce should spend more time on this. If they don’t, they’re putting a very expensive mortgage on the future.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Quique Vivas, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at Vodafone.

“Alexa mono-directionally guides you with one’s voice. Their speakers funnel and gate-keep your interaction with the brand and that’s risky from a brand perspective. I think there are more people in the US with Amazon Prime than who voted in the last election. Brands that depend on e-commerce should spend more time on this. If they don’t, they’re putting a very expensive mortgage on the future.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Quique Vivas

Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at Vodafone

 
“Alexa mono-directionally guides you with one’s voice. Their speakers funnel and gate-keep your interaction with the brand and that’s risky from a brand perspective. I think there are more people in the US with Amazon Prime than who voted in the last election. Brands that depend on e-commerce should spend more time on this. If they don’t, they’re putting a very expensive mortgage on the future.”


Quique Vivas, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Vodafone

Quique has worked for Vodafone since 2006, where he joined from BCG. Since then, he has held a number of management positions in marketing, digital, sales, strategy, finance and operations. In 2018, he joined the Czech Board as Chief Commercial Officer from Vodafone’s HQ in London, where he was responsible for Marketing Strategy and Propositions in charge of digital marketing and implementing global marketing and pricing strategies across the whole Vodafone Group. Quique graduated in communication science and law, he gained an MBA and is currently back to university, where he will be graduating in Philosophy. He has lived in Madrid, Prague, London and Düsseldorf. He has two young sons, Max and Alex. His passions are cinema, reading and music. Quique is also a former boxer, a keen footballer and an average drummer.

Uli Reese: Describe your role at Vodafone.

Quique Vivas:
I’m the Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, based in Prague. Before that, I was the director of marketing and digital. At Vodafone, we aim to connect people for a better future. If you look at our evolution, we started as a mobile provider where we gave access to telecommunications. The whole brand has evolved and in terms of connectivity we sell something now that is very cool and meaningful.

Reese: How important is sound in the customer experience at Vodafone?


Quique:
Sonic is clearly one of the best identities we can have. In the past, because of Vodafone being a local brand, but being executed globally, the main assets we used were the speech mark, the colour red and the tag line. We have never fully enriched these assets with sonic, but I still believe it’s relevant.

Reese: Your brand is known for bringing new music to a large audience and that’s a unique approach…

Quique: Yes, but we lack the consistency of musical components. We don’t use non-voice noises or a distinctive voice but try to have a common thread in the music we choose. When we repositioned a couple of years ago, we went with the same music but in some markets, they targeted locally. For example, in Spain, they used Absolute Beginners by David Bowie, which they used in different ways depending on the mood of the campaign. Pop music doesn’t necessarily trigger the brand, so you can use it to set the mood, but potentially it’s also available to the competition. That’s the trade-off.

Reese: How important is sound in building a brand?

Quique:
For me, it’s the most important copyright. When advertising went from just audio to TV, audio was not enough. But in order to convey a consistent and distinctive message, audio is way more important than the visuals. It’s the glue that pulls everything together.

Reese: Do you think that enough resources are put into an audio strategy?

Quique: I don’t think we currently have a systematic approach to sonic. We need to understand the investment and then link that with the assets.

Reese: So how do you make better decisions?

Quique:
If you want to convey a message by using only visuals it would be like Spielberg not talking to John Williams when he was making the Jaws soundtrack. You’re limiting yourself. It’s often a financial decision, but music is the thread that offers consistency and one that connects with the emotion of the customer. If you want to leave that out of the decision-making process, you’re crippling yourself.

Reese: But some brands are resistant to a Sonic Brand-Book…

Quique:
I have the opposite point of view. I want the freedom of a tight brief. Can you imagine a tennis match without any white lines? A brand book is the same. You need detailed guidelines as it enables your creativity to be unleashed.

Reese: Do we ignore the emerging screenless ecosystems at our peril?

Quique:
Alexa mono-directionally guides you with one’s voice. Their speakers funnel and gate-keep your interaction with the brand and that’s risky from a brand perspective. Podcasts are different as it requires me to pick my own choice, whereas Alexa is the opposite. Brands must take this seriously. I think there are more people in the US with Amazon Prime than who voted in the last election. About 80%. So, it’s not the future; it’s right now. I spend a lot of time with my digital team analysing data. Brands that depend on e-commerce should spend more time on this. If they don’t, they’re putting a very expensive mortgage on the future.

Reese: Why are so many brands deaf to this?

Quique:
It comes with the mentality of not being able to experiment. It’s hard to understand the trade-off when the investment is not high. But if you don’t see the potential, you are limiting your business.

Reese: Is the answer in communications everyone bringing out their own smart speaker?

Quique:
It’s industry-standard that someone has a product, and then you leverage that by producing another version. Would it be wise to build your own voice command system and compete with Amazon? Probably not. We need to give an answer to customer needs and insights, and for sure, voice command is an important trend… but that does not mean that every company should build their own.

Reese: Brands lose the visual part of their identity when entering any screenless ecosystem. If they have no Sonic Identity, they have no leg to stand on. Are Brands prepared?

Quique:
I consider myself a marketer, and after a while, as it evolves, you discover that it’s hard to differentiate yourself. I’m a movie geek and strongly believe that HBO content is better than Netflix, but sometimes I go to Netflix because the customer experience is easy. So I think the disruption will be in the journey and every single touchpoint. In that light, it’s relevant to take sound and audio seriously.

“Whoever is not investing in sonic because Instagram does not require audio would be making the same mistake as someone that would not do video in the past because press only used pictures.”

Reese: I always say don’t design for Instagram as it probably won’t be here for decades. Do you think that the customer experience is going to change again?

Quique:
Whoever is not investing in sonic because Instagram does not require audio would be making the same mistake as someone that would not do video in the past because press only used pictures. On Instagram, they don’t listen to music, but on Tik Tok, sound is really important. That’s one of the things that draws my attention. They are linking the video with the audio. Sound is really important. Radio and TV are still the two key channels for increasing awareness, and you spend time there, so why not across all the channels, including social? It’s counter-intuitive not to spend time or make a big thing out of audio. 

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Alexander Engelhardt, Vice President Brand Management at Deutsche Telekom.

“What fires together, wires together. Like other brand elements, a unique audio sequence can conjure up a wealth of associations and trigger the entire brand equity.”
1024 1024 amp

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Alexander Engelhardt, Vice President Brand Management at Deutsche Telekom.

“What fires together, wires together. Like other brand elements, a unique audio sequence can conjure up a wealth of associations and trigger the entire brand equity.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Alexander Engelhardt

Vice President Brand Management at Deutsche Telekom

 

“What fires together, wires together. Like other brand elements, a unique audio sequence can conjure up a wealth of associations and trigger the entire brand equity.”

 

 Alexander Engelhardt, Vice President Brand Management at Deutsche Telekom

 

 

With more than 20 years of marketing experience and a successful track record in driving brand value, Alexander contributes a wealth of practical knowledge in running multiple international brands. His passion for branding and behavioral economics spans several sectors from telecommunications, to logistics, to pharmaceuticals and health care.
He currently heads up Brand Management at Deutsche Telekom, which was recently awarded the Red Dot “Brand of the Year” award. In this position, Alexander is responsible for the global definition and execution of all brand strategy and design matters for Europe’s most valuable telco brand.

Uli Reese: What is your role at Deutsche Telekom?

Alexander
Engelhardt: My team and I are in charge of global brand management. This comprises brand strategy, design and implementation tasks like positioning, portfolio strategy, design guardrails and brand trainings. Put simply, it is our job to provide orientation and create a coherent brand experience at every stage of the customer journey.

Reese: If someone was new to the planet, how would you explain to them what a sonic identity is?


Alexander:
I would simply say: close your eyes and listen. Now, every sound you hear that you recognize and associate with a certain meaning has a sonic identity. When it comes to branding, we usually think of visual stimuli – like a logo, a color or a typeface – rather than audio stimuli. The reason is simple – branding has always been geared to the dominant visual media channels like print or TV. But digitalization significantly changed the way of interaction. Functional sounds, bots and skills are challenging the dominance of visual communication and having an increasing impact on buying decisions. As marketing managers, we need to realize that hearing – as one of the core senses we use to experience, understand and interpret our surroundings – has to be a key element of branding. In our digital world, sonic branding is becoming a means of intuitive interaction between humans and machines. Eyes closed, brand on!

Reese: You’ve given your sonic identity a face-lift. Can you give me a little insight into the journey?

Alexander: With the advent of new technologies like smart speakers, mixed realities and social media, we realized that voice and sound assets were becoming increasingly important. As a result, we were looking for the right approach – a starting point. For years, we used music to position Deutsche Telekom as an experience brand. Our sound logo has shaped our brand, however, like no other tune, so it only made sense to keep it as the signature sound of our future audio identity. The next challenge was to carefully develop the 20-year old sound logo for the various digital channels and applications of our time without changing the actual melody. We were able to pull out functional sounds and other sound assets from the updated version with its new tones and timbres and now have over 50 for a variety of applications and purposes, gradually creating a consistent sound experience for our customers at all points of contact.

Reese: You say you did not dare to touch the melody – why?

Alexander:
Even if it was a bit outdated – we have actually established a unique brand asset with our sound logo over the past 20 years. Over 70% of the population recognizes the melody immediately and can easily identify our communication as a result. We would be silly to give up that trump card.

Reese: Many brands realize they can’t service all required audio consumer touchpoints with a mnemonic-only strategy. What is your advice to them?

Alexander: As with all brand elements, recall and recognition are important criteria in the case of sound and voice as well. But what ultimately adds value to a brand is the ability to identify a specific and relevant meaning. A tone or a voice should – like the logo, imagery or typography – also represent the content of a brand. Only this way can sonic branding, in conjunction with other elements, make a valuable contribution.

Neuroscientists say: “What fires together, wires together.”
Like other brand elements, a unique audio sequence can conjure up a wealth of associations and trigger the entire brandequity.

And this is the potential we need to harness – similarly to modern brand design, sonic branding is less about rigid consistency and more about adapting flexibly to the particular context, touchpoint or application without sacrificing its core recognizability. This results in a coherent audio experience – with the focus on best possible communication at all times

Reese: How do you improve the customer experience?

Alexander:
A good customer experience is created when users get to where they want to be reliably and easily. The better it succeeds in providing orientation and creating a familiar environment whatever the medium, the more positively the quality of the product or service will be perceived. This is what we are working on. In particular with service brands, where it is often harder to judge the quality, the use of sounds, voices and music can enhance the customer experience considerably and have a positive impact on buying decisions. This is truer still for applications where interaction is limited to sounds or voice like chatbots or smart speakers.

Developing our voice identity and functional sounds went hand-in-hand with the initial definition of fundamental brand experience principles. By this we mean a shared mindset for the creation of processes and communication. The principles define overarching requirements that describe the desired impact for all our touchpoints.

Research showed us that our usual advertising speakers simply didn’t suit the task. So, we had to start from scratch and find a voice that represents our identity and meets all the functional requirements of a smart speaker voice.

Reese: Can you tell me about that process?

Alexander:
Well, take our voice identity as an example. Research showed us that our usual advertising speakers simply didn’t suit the task. So, we had to start from scratch and find a voice that represents our identity and meets all the functional requirements of a smart speaker voice. It might sound like a no-brainer, but we tested a lot, tried various voices, challenged our assumptions, redefined and finally found a perfect fit. It was an iterative process of trial and error – a living process and we are still learning a lot. Looking back, combining the underlying strategic considerations about voice identity directly with the development of a central touchpoint, in this case the smart speaker, was extremely useful. The benefit is tangible straight away, which in turn achieves broad acceptance.

Reese: CMOs have said to me their brand dies when it enters Alexa. What’s your advice for those CMOs?

Alexander:
If the brand has been established purely on the basis of visual stimuli, that is probably true. Digitalization is currently making it brutally clear that successful branding has to appeal to all the senses. A look at the interaction in social media, mixed realities and smart speakers shows that it is the combination of music, voice and functional sounds that makes the brand experience of the future whole. In addition, brands have lost or will lose control over how they are presented and consumed to some extent. In a digital world, technical platforms and consumers will continuously set new standards which brands must adapt to. As far as Alexa & co. are concerned, pure brand awareness, for example, will become even more significant as brands that are actively searched for are at an advantage here.

Even if audio assets are not yet critical to business in many areas, my advice would be to start exploring this development and see the opportunities it holds. Sonic branding offers a whole new range of possibilities to anchor customers to your brand with innovative sales and service models. Anyone who hasn’t thought about it so far should definitely start doing so right away.

Copyright © 2021, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

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