101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Tim Alexander

CMO Private & Commercial Bank at Deutsche Bank

 

“We need to start thinking about sound as a necessary part of the whole experience.”

Tim Alexander, CMO Private & Commercial Bank, Deutsche Bank

 

 

Over the last years, Tim Alexander has been working for different companies including O2, Daimler AG and Swisscom AG. He gained a lot of experience in the filed of marketing as well as working with music. Dotady, he is Chief Marketing Officer Private & Commercial of Deutsche Bank, where he is responsible for the entire brnads- and product communication. Tim works very strategic and ejoys creating exciting experiences for his customers.

Reese: How important is music, sounds, audio, all together in branding?
Alexander: Especially the topic voice has reached great attention over the last few years. Especially due to voice services like Alexa. A voice is basically a mirror, with which you can look directly into somebody. Just imagine somebody talking with a dialect or an accent, it`s a piece of their personality, a piece of them. You have so many identity providing elements in voice and in music. We as marketers have to massively deal with that topic. There are some brands that already have done a great job, but others have to catch up quite a lot. You have to set the “DNA” for the company to be able to work within a holistic framework. And that`s the art about it.
Reese: There is great power in music, as customers are able to remember the feeling that it transported. Have you ever worked with music that conveyed such a message?
Alexander: I had the great opportunity to work with O2 years ago. During that time, you could close your eyes and hear, that the TVC that was running, was from O2. That was only possible because we worked together with a famous band, that everybody recognized in the spot.
Reese: This approach didn`t add any brand value though.

Alexander: You were able to recognize it at that time, nowadays not anymore. It wasn`t developed for long-term use. It was actually by luck that we were working within the same sound during that time because we were just working with one band.

Reese: Most brands really underestimate the process of sound branding.

Alexander: The problem is, that we have to find time to deal with it. Therefore, there are two ways we could go to approach this topic. One way is fast, without much thinking, but that`s probably not really effective. The other is, not doing it at all. Sound is definitely a part on my agenda, but still not as urgent as it should be. Reese: Brands sell trust. Music is the direct way into the subconscious but gets used randomly. Alexander: At the Deutsche Bank, our brand values had to be defined first. Every bank needs to have that layer of trust underneath everything else. Over that, there`s competence, inspiration and innovative possibilities. The Deutsche Bank needs to become the bank of the Germans again. To be there for every single one. We are trying to build campaigns around these values, and we need to be able to translate them into music. Yet, you always need people who understand this whole process, and that’s the important part.

Reese: Brands sell trust. Music is the direct way into the subconscious but gets used randomly.
Alexander: Until now, it has been a side topic. Neglected by the marketing departments. We as people, are able to judge others relatively fast by the way they are talking or their voice in general. We have decreasingly less opportunities to reach our customers through brand signals. That`s why I think that at the end of the day, the approach with sound is very effective and efficient to transfer brand values. There needs to be a red threat, according to which the brand communicates to customers. In a big company like Deutsche Bank, the process of implementing such a project is not that easy. Every marketer needs to see himself as an entrepreneur and take the time to think about it, to take care of it, as a part of the overall experience. It needs to be an approach that is long-term orientated and can be adapted for following generations. 
Reese: How important do you think sound is in branding overall?

Alexander: Until now, it has been a side topic. Neglected by the marketing departments. We as people, are able to judge others relatively fast by the way they are talking or their voice in general. We have decreasingly less opportunities to reach our customers through brand signals. That`s why I think that at the end of the day, the approach with sound is very effective and efficient to transfer brand values. There needs to be a red threat, according to which the brand communicates to customers. In a big company like Deutsche Bank, the process of implementing such a project is not that easy. Every marketer needs to see himself as an entrepreneur and take the time to think about it, to take care of it, as a part of the overall experience. It needs to be an approach that is long-term orientated and can be adapted for following generations.

Reese: How important do you think sound is in branding overall?

Alexander:
Until now, it has been a side topic. Neglected by the marketing departments. We as people, are able to judge others relatively fast by the way they are talking or their voice in general. We have decreasingly less opportunities to reach our customers through brand signals. That`s why I think that at the end of the day, the approach with sound is very effective and efficient to transfer brand values. There needs to be a red threat, according to which the brand communicates to customers. In a big company like Deutsche Bank, the process of implementing such a project is not that easy. Every marketer needs to see himself as an entrepreneur and take the time to think about it, to take care of it, as a part of the overall experience. It needs to be an approach that is long-term orientated and can be adapted for following generations. 

"We have decreasingly less opportunities to reach our customers through brand signals. That`s why I think that at the end of the day, the approach with sound is very effective and efficient to transfer brand values."

Reese: Why do top brands not implement the same for audio as they do for visuals, as it becomes harder and harder for them to distinguish themselves from others? They treat music like an afterthought at the end of the campaign development, something you add last minute without really thinking about it.

Alexander: Music goes directly into the subconscious. Therefore, it`s also not the first thing marketers think about (laughs). We are starting with the first thing we see and that is the visuals. Because of how we work as humans, sound is a topic that is not the first priority in a process of creating visuals. But we are also professionals in our field and something so important can`t be neglected. Moreover, do we tend to not look at the possibility of long-term effects, but just want to create something stunning for the moment. That`s, of course, not helpful for long-term brand building. In my career, I`ve had many moments in which I said that this work is the best thing on the planet right now, but it`s just not good for the brand itself. To be honest, I`m seeing great work from top agencies nowadays, but I`m asking myself if that`s really the right thing for the brand. Is it really helpful to chase the next viral hit that doesn`t even fit in the holistic world of the brand? We need to start thinking about sound as a necessary part of the whole experience. We have to find a way to incorporate it into our daily processes. Only then can innovation be achieved. Moreover, is Amazon`s Alexa pushing us to become hearable in an audio-only ecosystem. Only then will customers be able to experience us as one brand, with one familiar voice.

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