101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
Group Communication, Global Head of Brand, Advertising & Sponsoring at BNP Paribas
“In the end, any person should be able to recognize the brand without seeing it.”
Group Communication, Global Head of Brand, Advertising & Sponsoring, BNP Paribas
Elodie Dufrane is the Global Head of Group Communication Brand, Advertising and Sponsoring at BNP Paribas. She is an Exco member of the Group Communication Team. She manages a team of 30 and coordinates all local teams with regards to brand, advertising and sponsoring across all businesses and territories. She works with key partners like Publicis, Havas, TBWA and KR media & their subsidiaries locally. She oversees branding and is involved in numerous brand projects across the organization. Elodie is also head of Advertising for the Group. She manages tennis partnerships for the Group and is also in charge of the data media ecosystem. For the past 2 years, Elodie oversees the defining of all guidelines related to responsible communication (beyond advertising).
Reese: Can you talk a little bit about your role at BNP Paribas?
Dufrane: I`m in charge of everything related to brand, advertising and sponsoring for the Group, from strategy down to the implementation worldwide.
My first key role is defining the Brand strategy and positioning it in line with the company’s purpose and the bank engagement strategy (particularly around Sustainable Finance and positive Banking), and deploying them in all entities.
The second role is to manage all advertising of the group. Within advertising, I`m also in charge of key decisions and deployment of the data media-ecosystem of the group, be it in terms of global tools or partnerships.
In the sponsoring area, I particularly ensure our sponsoring brings added value beyond pure sponsorship by developing key engagement projects in line with the group engagement strategy.
Finally, I am thrilled to lead what we call internally the “responsible communication guidelines program “. A key topic in aligning our communication activities with the group purpose.
Reese: How important is music in branding?
Dufrane: To me, it`s definitely an important asset of the overall brand architecture and will be even more important in the future. Obviously, a strong brand is one that lives by its purpose, actions, and the decisions made are key and drive engagement. Still, a strong brand can only be so if it remains consistent over time and consistent across its channels (its own channels or others through disintermediation). Brand items are, for that reason, key as they greatly contribute to establishing this positioning over time and across touchpoints. The music is a part of it, and beyond music, sound globally (music and voice) is. Voice and music together can reflect the personality of the brand and definitely drive a sentiment, ideally the most in tune with the group positioning. With brand sound, it is the same. In the end, any person should be able to recognize it without seeing it. Nowadays, we spend a lot of time looking at smartphone screens. But for how long? We need to make sure that we have our personality reflected everywhere, through an ear-set as well as on phone. That`s why consistency is very important, as we are reaching our customers in so many different ways nowadays.
Reese: When you look at the digital age, how important is voice, sound and music going to be?
Dufrane: As I said, it`s definitely going to become more important. It is already more important than it was a year ago, especially after the digitalization progress over the last year. We need to have our own voice to be recognized, and we need to start now to be able to keep up with the changing environment. Podcasts are growing, Hologram technology is coming, and other technics will probably see other needs. But in any case, it`s very hard to create a great video without sound – at least emotionally! It is hard to recognize a brand without its logo. The more digital brands become, the more important ‘’being human and personality” will be.
Reese: Should brands treat sound as disciplined as visuals?
Dufrane: We used to be very disciplined with our brand guidelines, our websites, prints, videos, advertising mechanisms. Nevertheless, we’ve allowed some flexibility, especially in the digital area. And even more so, over the past year: before the pandemic, one had to react quickly, be agile. This can only be enhanced if we provide simple guidelines and brand management tools. Our job is to serve the brand in terms of homogeneity but also facilitate the work for any users. In that respect, sound is no less different. I admire those brands that manage to create a brand sound and use it on every single touchpoint. We are not there yet. This is not easy to achieve, especially not in companies made of multi-local entities. Hence, knowing the difficulty of getting there, you probably need to be even more disciplined: one always has their own preferred music style. Thus, you need discipline but also a system that allows agility by using a flexible adaptation mechanism.
In particular, working with a sound producer to produce “THE sound” of the group, and its many different versions to satisfy all needs, but also a partner able to rapidly produce variations of it for different upcoming applications. So yes, discipline but not coercion.
Reese: You have to have a master plan.
Dufrane: Yes, as I mentioned, this masterplan needs to be flexible as well, as we have to adapt the content locally to different countries. The music we are using in France might be different from the music we are using in other countries (or at least its version is). When we do ads for France, for instance, I say from the beginning that music is key; it needs to be there from the start. Having Brand music helps in that case. But for some ads, it needs to convey the feeling and bring the right emotion, and we could be tempted to put something else instead.
Reese: I agree, but this is not the way it is usually handled by brands. Most of the time, music is seen as an afterthought and pushed all the way to the end of the timeline.
Dufrane: I think before you go into the process of commercials, you have to take a close look at the brand itself and make sure it`s stable. This always needs to be the first step. We are building strong data resources for data-driven decision-making to support our actions. On that side, we have great branding guidelines on many different touchpoints. We do also have some guidelines for sound (not for voice), but as I said, advertisers might be tempted to put something else, something more in line with the ad itself. And this does not reinforce your brand recognition. This is why it`s easier to incorporate them in the process at the beginning and derive a version of your sound in a way that both ensure brand attribution and harmony with the commercial itself. They need to be worked out very carefully and close to the brand.
“Sound is quite important. It has to fit the brand positioning, the purpose of the group. As for the other elements of the brand guidelines, consistency is important. That`s why I believe brands need not only a consistent positioning, but also a consistent sound. Music, sound and voice, if well-chosen, of course, will open doors. It`s one key to build trust and relationships. Sound can reinforce even further the human element into the banking industry.”
Reese: No matter which brand, all of them are in the trust-building business. Brands, can`t buy trust, only earn it. Sometimes, even the smallest mistake can be fatal.
Dufrane: This couldn’t be more true, especially for the banking sector, suffering from low image consideration. Trust is the first important element that we have to consider in the banking business, and it’s quite integrated with our DNA. In that regard, thinking long term is key. Long term with your partnerships, long term with your customers, the choice of sound is quite important. It has to fit the brand positioning, the purpose of the group. As for the other elements of the brand guidelines, consistency is important. That`s why I believe brands need not only a consistent positioning, but also a consistent sound. Music, sound and voice, if well-chosen, of course, will open doors. It`s one key to build trust and relationships. Sound can reinforce even further the human element into the banking industry.
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