101 Great Minds

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.”
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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.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Linda Stannieder, Founder and CEO at TMRW.

“There is scientific proof that a brand is more impactful if it attracts people with more than visuals and words. The more senses you attract the more memorable you become.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Linda Stannieder, Founder and CEO at TMRW.

“There is scientific proof that a brand is more impactful if it attracts people with more than visuals and words. The more senses you attract the more memorable you become.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

LINDA STANNIEDER

Founder and CEO at TMRW

 

“There is scientific proof that a brand is more impactful if it attracts people with more than visuals and words. The more senses you attract the more memorable you become.”

 

Linda Stannieder, Founder and CEO, TMRW.

After working in the field of ‘brand experiences’ with clients worldwide, Linda Stannieder today specializes in future scenarios and inventions. Her company TMRW Ventures is involved in innovation strategies, future visions, and prototyping for brand expressions, products, and services on the edge of technology, humanity and nature. Her work is driven by deep insights into changing patterns in our daily lives, into human behaviors and needs and into the developments of advanced technologies. Being able to create valuable foresights, her main focus is in supporting research and development of clients.

Uli Reese: What are you working on right now?

Linda Stannieder:
One main research topic right now is how humans will interact with AI and advanced technologies in the future and how we can create a more harmonious relationship between us and future generations of technologies.

Reese: Tell me about the role of audio in customer experience.


Linda:
I’ve always believed in sonic branding and have pushed hard for it. I’m also a believer in science. When you talk about having an impact on consumers worldwide you can’t get around the topic of multi-sense branding. Aiming for a memorable emotional impact as a product or a service, you have to attract people with more than one sense. There is scientific proof that a brand is more impactful if it attracts people with more than visuals and words. The more senses you attract the more memorable you become.

Reese: Why do you think is there a growing importance for audio in the digital age?

Linda: What I have witnessed over the years is that a lot of companies struggle with developing a sonic identity. The development of this part of a brand identity has always been widely underestimated. Now – with more and more digital interactions – brand management teams are getting more into the topic. Everybody understands that whatever device or digital service you are interacting with, it has certain functions that guide or attract more, when they are linked to sonic expressions.

In some cases, digital interactions without any other brand appearance might even be your only touchpoint to end-consumers.
Voice assistants are a good example of this. They will become far more important as a main interface to services and brands. Besides the fact that they are perceived today as not being intelligent enough, the voice itself influences whether people like or dislike interacting with the voice at all. Does the brand and its voice assistant speak with one predefined voice or does the voice need to adapt to the person it talks to?

Reese: Do you consider voice as a part of sonic branding?

Linda:
Yes. Especially now with self-learning and generative systems becoming reality. But if you talk about the customization of voices and my own interests or personal assets being translated into a voice – the big question is: How do we define sound branding today? We are facing a new era of branding, which declares a part of a brand as being adaptable to the individual it aims to attract. Taking the example of a voice: How much of the voice conveys a brand identity and what are flexible elements that connect to an individual’s taste patterns? Do we even want this kind of connection with a technology or a brand? Depending on the demographics and market we look at, people expect or dislike these kinds of interactions and personalized behavior.

It is definitely becoming more complicated. 15 years ago, when I lived in China, I witnessed many brands entering the market with their global brand guidelines.

Back then, the big question was if the brand design needed to be consistent in all countries – independent of how people would read it in their different cultures – or if a cultural adaptation would be allowed. Today, the question is not how a brand adapts in different markets, the question is, if and how it adapts to different people depending on their social profile, their own values and their emotional status.

Reese: When I visited China years ago I realized that their sensitivity to sound and to UX UI is very special. Would you agree?

Linda: There is a huge difference between China and other countries on how people evaluate what they see and hear. What they find attractive is different to other cultures. For example, a website design in China was considered a failure because Chinese tests said it was boring and not animated or energizing enough, whereas the Germans thought it provided the right guidance, content structure and appeared well thought through. How things are perceived is often very different in China – that also counts for sonic events.

There needs to be a DNA! The core of everything I do is the brand strategy. Who do you want to reach? What is your vision? What do you stand for? How do you differentiate from your competition?

Reese: Where do you start developing a sonic event if there is no DNA?

Linda:
There needs to be a DNA! The core of everything I do is the brand strategy. Who do you want to reach? What is your vision? What do you stand for? How do you differentiate from your competition? In addition, there is often a specific product brand or strategy involved. What are the goals for this particular task and what is the relationship to the brand? Is there a certain freedom or do we have to stay consistent? It requires a deep dive into more strategic questions before an ideation process defines how this strategic framework translates into sonic events.

Reese: How can you fix a broken sonic experience?

Linda:
The reasons for broken experiences are not sonic events. What brands express and what consumers perceive is a multitude of expressions that need to be in sync with each other. Sonic events come with visuals, with spoken or written words. What we see and listen to needs to be authentic to what we believe the brand stands for or wants to achieve. To what we believe is consistent with the brand. To what we believe is a fit to a certain situation – and a certain target group.

Reese: How important is AI in contact with consumers going to be?

Linda:
A future where AI interacts with us in all kinds of situations in our daily lives is undeniable. The underlying question is how will advanced technologies and humans interact with each other: Will we believe in empathy built into technologies? Will they follow a set of own values and interaction criteria? How ‘human’ will we expect technology to behave? Assuming that people would even want to interact with technology in a more human way and we expect ‘it’ to predict things and enable us more, I believe there will be three phases:

Firstly, the AI needs to be able to understand who we are and diagnose how we are. Secondly, the AI needs to learn and anticipate what we need and want. And finally, the AI will enhance our capabilities, create a positive impact not only on our physical and mental capabilities but also on our emotional status. Sonic events play an important role in this process because sound in particular has an extraordinary impact on our memory and our wellbeing.

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 David Rubin, Chief Marketing Officer of The New York Times.

“There’s a certain connection between the teller and the listener that can only be done when you don’t see them.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with David Rubin, Chief Marketing Officer of The New York Times.

“There’s a certain connection between the teller and the listener that can only be done when you don’t see them.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

David Rubin

Chief Marketing Officer of The New York Times

 

“There’s a certain connection between the teller and the listener that can only be done when you don’t see them.”



David Rubin, Chief Marketing Officer, The New York Times

 

David Rubin is the Chief Marketing Officer for The New York Times where he is responsible for enterprise-wide brand strategy, external and internal communications, creative, and media, as well as audience definition, strategy and targets. David was previously senior vice president and head of audience and brand where he led the development of the award-winning advertising campaigns “The Truth Is Hard,” which premiered on the Oscars broadcast in February 2017, “The Truth has a Voice,” which premiered during the Golden Globes in January 2018, and the most recent “The Truth is Worth It” campaign, which won two Grand Prix awards at Cannes Lions in 2019 and was cited by The Drum as 2019’s 2nd most awarded creative ad in the world. Prior to joining The Times in April 2016, David was at Pinterest where he led the community, marketing, brand and research teams and was charged with expanding the appeal of the Pinterest brand, particularly internationally. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Uli Reese: Describe your role at the New York Times Company.

David Rubin:
I’m the Chief Marketing Officer, the first that we know of in New York Times history which goes back 160 years. My job is to help us tell our story so that people understand why they need to pay for the news.

Certainly 100 years ago journalists couldn’t let you hear the things they were telling you about and now you get to hear it for yourselves. It has become a critical part of journalism and because of that, it’s now integral to our marketing.
Reese: You joined the NYT in 2016 and led the development of award-winning advertising campaigns; The Truth is Hard, The Truth Has a Voice, The Truth is Worth It and more recently, The Truth is Essential. Tell me about them.


David:
Part of my hiring was that we wanted to tell our story more proactively and I spent my first six months trying to define the brand. You may think of news as this several hundred-year-old enterprise – and it is – but what people do within the industry is very different. We see the Times in a really small category, which is subscription supported journalism that’s not yet fully proven out. We were trying to figure out what we wanted to say about ourselves and then the 2016 election happened. A big debate that came out of it was about fake news so it felt like a good time to talk about what we are and what is different. We made ‘The Truth is Hard’ and ran it in the Oscars as a way to talk about independent journalism and how it helps you understand the world. It struck a chord. A year later we were coming up on the 2018 Golden Globes, and at that point we had published the Weinstein work that journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor had done, plus the Bill O’Reilly work. We thought it would be a good place to write about the impact journalism had, hence The Truth Has a Voice. The third campaign, The Truth is Worth It, was why you need to pay for independent journalism and understand the world better. And our most recent campaign, The Truth is Essential, is to help you figure out what you want to do on a personal and societal level.

Reese: When you think about sonic or audio in journalism, what role does it have and what role will it have?

David: One of the things we believe is that we are marketing our journalism and that’s a real mind shift. That’s why you’ve seen the Times branching out. We used to largely be the printed word and today we have a multimedia experience, the TV show and one of the nation’s largest podcasts in The Daily. Audio is obviously really important to that. Certainly 100 years ago journalists couldn’t let you hear the things they were telling you about and now you get to hear it for yourselves. It has become a critical part of journalism and because of that, it’s now integral to our marketing.

Reese: Why is The Daily so successful?

David:
Many reasons. If you told me to start a podcast about the news I would have assumed it would contain a lot of headlines. One of the reasons The Daily has been so successful is that it tells one story at a time. It’s counter intuitive but you walk away feeling more knowledgeable, even if you end up feeling more uncomfortable. Secondly, I think the way the host Michael Barbaro guides the program and the role his voice plays is incredible. He’s rarely doing any of the news-telling himself but his voice is a guide and a sonic cue. Thirdly, there’s an expert team behind all of that who tell the story incredibly well, and fourthly the time is right. People are interested in how people do their job, the role that journalists play and The Daily does that very well.

Reese: If you can build a bridge from The Daily to the role that sound has in the digital age and the experience economy, where do you think it’s going?

David: It’s interesting that TV never fully killed radio. It was predicted to and again digital and video never killed radio. I think that’s because there’s something that happens when you can only listen. There’s a certain connection between the teller and the listener that can only be done when you don’t see them. Reuters and NPR always do well on trust and our theory is that it’s because you’re hearing the journalist and that you feel like you know them. It creates a depth of listening and that’s the value of The Daily for us. Trust brings people closer to the work and that’s extremely valuable.

There’s an objectivity which we are trying to explain in our journalism and making that multi-sensorial, through audio, is really helpful.

Reese: Sound goes through our system about seven times faster than visuals, so are you promoting a different kind of intimacy?

David:
The New York Times has a global presence. People like to talk about us all over the world. It’s not always positive and that’s okay, we’re fine with that. Our role is to help people understand the world and we don’t always get it right. We want to be held accountable as we have real power. But we often get defined by a small percentage of what we do. Our marketing is there to define us by our reputation, as opposed to the main article that may find the reader, or what they hear about us in other news sources. We have a relatively small budget and we’re trying to put a finger in a dam. But we believe that it helps the audience if we can show how we remain independent, the reasons you should trust us and the thoroughness of the process. There’s an objectivity which we are trying to explain in our journalism and making that multi-sensorial, through audio, is really helpful.

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 David Sandström, Chief Marketing Officer at Klarna Bank AB.

“Text usually builds very weak consumer connections, whilst imagery builds a stronger emotional bond to consumers. Sonic might be the next step in that.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with David Sandström, Chief Marketing Officer at Klarna Bank AB.

“Text usually builds very weak consumer connections, whilst imagery builds a stronger emotional bond to consumers. Sonic might be the next step in that.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

David Sandström

Chief Marketing Officer at Klarna Bank AB

 

“Text usually builds very weak consumer connections, whilst imagery builds a stronger emotional bond to consumers. Sonic might be the next step in that.”


 
David Sandström, Chief Marketing Officer, Klarna Bank AB.

David currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Klarna and is a member of the executive management team. David joined Klarna in 2017 where he leads the fintech company to an extensive brand transformation, from one of many financial institutions to a rethinking lifestyle brand. He is responsible for everything related to consumer growth, including marketing, design, brand, PR and communications. In January 2019, the company launched the campaign,”Get Smoooth”, with Snoop Dogg as the front figure. The campaign has become one of the most mentioned ever in Sweden and has also attracted great attention internationally. Prior to joining Klarna David was acting as the CEO of one of Sweden’s foremost advertising agencies.

Uli Reese: Tell me about your role at Klarna.

David Sandström:
I oversee all the consumer growth at Klarna, so that’s marketing, communications and design. There are about 400 people who report to me. I started my career as a consumer behaviour researcher and was seven years at DDB in the Nordics. DDB had ten creative hubs globally and Stockholm was one of those, developing brands with marquee clients such as Volkswagen, McDonald’s, and Samsung. I was the CEO there for five years. And while I’ve been in the marketing space for a long time, I still have a passionate interest in consumer behaviour and consumer psychology.

Reese: How important is sonic in building a brand?


Sandström:
Extremely important. I think it’s probably one of the most underutilised ways of building your brand. I was working with McDonald’s when they launched their campaign with Justin Timberlake and ‘I’m Loving It’. That was almost sonic branding and what we see is that it builds a new kind of memory and connection with the consumer. Text usually builds very weak consumer connections, whilst imagery builds a stronger emotional bond to consumers. Sonic might be the next step in that. We know that the traces you set in people’s minds with sound are extremely strong. And looking at pure behavioural research we know scent is even stronger than sonic. I’m not saying you should do scent branding like Abercrombie & Fitch but from pure consumer behaviour and an evolutionary perspective, scent is extremely strong. And to that point, we know from marketing research there are two big ways of growing a brand; one is that you need physical availability. Coca Cola is stronger than Pepsi because they have a fridge in every single corner of the world. Second, you need the mental availability. Put simply, you need to be able to find a brand quickly in your brain, and sonic has an extremely strong power and potential to make it easy to find a brand in the brain.

Reese: Many brands that were led visually now have a huge problem going into the screenless ecosystem. That’s at odds with why audio is becoming so dominant. How do you explain that?

Sandström: The media landscape is getting more and more scattered so you need brand equity that can cut through all of the different media channels. In the past, there was a colour; Coca Cola has a distinctive red colour and that is brand equity. The problem is that these channels aren’t receptive to visual cues. The more scattered it gets, especially with the podcast explosion and with more screenless systems to navigate during the day, we cannot rely on visual cues to uphold the brand equity across these channels. But interestingly audio cuts through most of these channels. And the second thing is that what I see with a lot of brands, especially consumer brands, is that they want to resonate with pop culture. We have seen in our times the biggest influencers being musicians or artists. This goes way back to Absolute and their journey into the music industry. Nowadays, most big brands are tapping into the music industry somehow and music as a whole has become one of the key drivers for big brands. That means you need to have a strategy around your own sonic identity. I don’t think you can only collaborate with the music industry and have no thinking whatsoever around sonic.

Reese: As sonic identities change, brands like McDonald’s no longer want to be perceived by a sonic logo. But it’s obvious that a lot of brands have been wrongfooted by this explosion. Why are so many brands so late to the party?

Sandström: I think you can explain some of this by realising that the old stuff has been working very well for a very long time. However nowadays, and especially during the time of Covid, the world has been completely shaken up. The rules are being rewritten. Now we see completely new consumer behaviours, especially towards screenless, and people in the industry are waking up to the reality of this. The other explanation is that things go in phases. Sonic identity has become something that can give you an edge. But at the same time it can work the other way. During lockdown I think people felt they over-binged on Netflix. The Netflix sound logo, the ‘ta-dum’ is so profound and so distinct – and this is just my take – but I think subconsciously people have started to connect that sound with shameful behaviour. It has primed people to think that this is me wasting my time. But again, all that really shows is the strength of sonic.

“Sonic branding holds such power. It’s been proven so many times from priming people’s expectations to connecting it to a behaviour. “

Reese: In that case, can you see the use of sonic increasing over time?

Sandström: We don’t want to attribute a direct business performance to sonic branding at Klarna because it would be strange if we used a sound, like Pringles or Nespresso for example. From what I’ve seen it’s almost like a slow cooking process and that to build a sonic brand is almost like planting something in people’s minds that you can bring up quite easily. If done correctly, you can bring it up with a note, a song or an entire album. The takeaway here is that you can plant a seed in someone’s brain with a sound and that is what marketeers are starting to learn.

Reese: In that case, is resistance to sonic futile?

Sandström: Sonic branding holds such power. It’s been proven so many times from priming people’s expectations to connecting it to a behaviour. It has many positive and interesting effects so yes, more CMO’s should definitely be working in the sonic space.

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 Glenn Pajarito, Director, Global Brand Visual Identity & Design at Citi

“It’s important to be data-driven, but data can’t create a hit song. We must understand what our brand stands for, and how it looks, sounds and acts. Only then can we leverage data to turn information into knowledge.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Glenn Pajarito, Director, Global Brand Visual Identity & Design at Citi

“It’s important to be data-driven, but data can’t create a hit song. We must understand what our brand stands for, and how it looks, sounds and acts. Only then can we leverage data to turn information into knowledge.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

GLENN PAJARITO

Director, Global Brand Visual Identity & Design at Citi

 

“It’s important to be data-driven, but data can’t create a hit song. We must understand what our brand stands for, and how it looks, sounds and acts. Only then can we leverage data to turn information into knowledge.”

 
Glenn Pajarito, Director, Global Brand Visual Identity & Design, Citi

Glenn Pajarito is the current Director of Global Brand Visual Identity & Design at Citi. With nearly two decades of agency and brand experience as a creative director, Glenn has led new business pitches and integrated campaigns for hundreds of brands such as Google, LEGO, American Airlines, Samsung, NBA, P&G, and Anheuser-Busch. In his spare time, Glenn judges award and portfolio shows, and he also lectures about the history of advertising and its impact on culture.

Uli Reese: Describe your role at Citi.

Glenn Pajarito:
I’m fairly new to the 209-year-old brand in a newly created role in the global marketing team. I’m primarily in charge of brand identity and what that means across all channels, and how that shapes the rest of what our marketing organization does.

Reese: Is sonic important to you in building a brand?


Glenn:
It’s more important now than ever because of our growing digital and media landscape. There are more areas where a brand can express itself and more coming to light. We’ve seen the beginning of social media, streaming TV, podcasts, esports, smartphones, smart speakers, smart homes, wearables, AR/VR and experiential. All of that is fairly new in the grand scheme of what it is we do, and sound plays a role in all of it. Up to now, though, sound hasn’t been addressed to the full extent possible.

Reese: Where did this sonic dominance come from?

Glenn: It has a lot to do with our personal tech ecosystems. Our devices have connected the dots between traditional and new media, where we’re now able to tailor our own lives and decide how we consume content and receive information. With this proliferation, our attention span has changed. There’s a study that says 89% of brands communications aren’t remembered because of that, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we can curate how we experience the world. We can endlessly scroll our social feeds, binge watch hours of entertainment, but at the same time, we have less patience for ads. So we have to ask how brands recontextualize and still connect with the right people at the right times in the right way.

Reese: Sonic logos don’t work now, and so many CMO’s are confused as to how to move forward. Is there still a resistance to change?

Glenn: One of the things marketers get caught up in is that they think ‘marketing first’ rather than ‘brand first’. Essentially marketing is storytelling, and the brand is the protagonist. So, if we think of the protagonist as something with this unique history, purpose and a set of characteristics, then sound is one part contributing to the whole. Audio is typically thought of as more of a production element and not a brand element. When you look at it that way, it becomes an afterthought. The audio touchpoints come from media planning, and the work is reactive to that, rather than thinking of audio first and how it comes to life in those media touchpoints. While 100% of us listen to music, and we all believe we have a robust understanding of music, many of us aren’t musicians or composers. We don’t have an as effective vocabulary for sound as we do for visual. I can describe a painting to you but describing a song wouldn’t be as easy. When you’re communicating the way, we do with PowerPoint decks and emails, you can lose a lot in translation.

Reese: What is the solution? I have nothing against using a great piece of music as a credibility transfer, but the process is intrinsically flawed…

Glenn: Many times, clients and brands are married to an anthemic piece and don’t address how it contributes to a broader narrative. I’m from Southern California and grew up in this surf, skateboard, punk rock world, and a brand like Vans comes to mind as, since the Sixties, they’ve helped shape the culture of surf rock, punk rock, indie rock, and all that epitomizes that Southern California lifestyle. While they themselves aren’t a record label, they’re a music tastemaker for the rest of the world. And now that I’m living in New York, I can see that a brand like Vans continues to be relevant in that way, even for younger people. You almost get a taste of what Southern California feels like through that brand.

Reese: Trust building should be the first order of business, but when it comes to sonic, it takes more than a pop song to create brand loyalty…

Glenn: I think trust, especially with a brand like Citi, is incredibly valuable and directly connected with meaningful connection. The marketing world, both the agency and brand side, are just emerging from being obsessed with impressions, amplification and awareness building. It’s more of maximizing quantitative brand reach versus qualitative brand engagement. Marketers act as if the amount of a media buy is directly correlated with brand adoption and brand love, but they’re not. They license popular music in the hopes that the ten million people who bought an album will also buy into their brand, but it doesn’t work that way.

Reese: The conversation amongst CMO’s should be ‘stop associating, start co-creating’. Would you agree they should be using data in the decision-making process?

Glenn:
It’s important to be data-driven, but data can’t create a hit song. We must understand what our brand stands for, and how it looks, sounds and acts. Only then can we leverage data to turn information into knowledge. It’s one of the many challenges that faces a brand like Citi, which is the world’s most global bank. We must differentiate our firm for bank customers, credit card customers, small businesses and clients, corporate investors, and capital groups. How do you authentically resonate with such a diverse group emotionally at scale? A shoe brand or energy drink has more specific customers: you can look at their buying habits or competitor trends, and your answer might be more precise than financial brands. Ultimately when a brand identity and sonic identity gets into this safe space where you’re trying to please everyone, you really run the risk of pleasing no one.

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 Ivy Ross, Vice President of Design for all Hardware Products at Google.

“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 because culture changes.“
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Ivy Ross, Vice President of Design for all Hardware Products at Google.

“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 because culture changes.“

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Ivy Ross

Vice President of Design for all Hardware Products at Google

 

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 because culture changes.


 
Ivy Ross,  Vice President of Design for all Hardware Products, Google.

 

With over 30 years of comprehensive experience, Ivy Ross is the current Vice President, Head of Design for all Hardware Products at Google. Ms Ross has held various managerial positions in renowned Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries, including, retail, direct mail, and manufacturing. Some of the achievements under her belt include; being selected to represent the new face of leadership by Fast Co. Magazine and appearing in a top 25 innovative leaders list, a Business Week magazine publication.

Uli Reese: Can you explain the rise of sonic and audio in branding in the last few years?

Ivy Ross:
I’ve studied sound for about 30 years, so I know the importance of it. In part, the rise is because it’s time has come. I think in some ways, we have suppressed it  and focused more on visuals. But we are at a point as a society where we must learn to listen more deeply .When we’re in the womb we are literally swimming  in a sonic bath, as liquid amplifies sound. We are hearing the symphony of our mother’s body. I think that is why sound is so emotional for us as it was all around us during  some of our most formative days. We’ve become a bit flatlined since the Industrial Revolution, more transactional vs  transformational. There has been a suppression of the sensory part of us for a while. I believe that we are just understanding how critical alivening the senses are, to our health and well being. I believe we are going to continue to accept more and more the healing power of sound . Everything is vibration . We are vibrational beings in resonance with sound.

Reese: Can you expand upon that in terms of sound and how it might affect the generations coming behind us?


Ivy:
We’re finding more and more that the power of sound is also in the space between the notes. As a metaphor, it will be important to find a new rhythm to our lives and make sure to take pause every so often. Especially now with Covid, these are interesting times. A lot of people I know are listening to more podcasts, more audio as a relief to being on visual zoom meetings all the time. Brands need to be very thoughtful and intentional going forward as to how and when they engage our senses.

Reese: The design of Google hardware was the opposite of what I thought it would be and it made me think that sonic logos are also very dominant but that this is not how you build a brand anymore…

Ivy: I think the word is harmonic. One needs to find the unique subtle tone of the brand that is in resonance with the people it serves. 

“You need to know what you want your brand to stand for, and what its fundamental notes are.”

Reese: Why have brands been so arbitrary in their sonic behavior? They associate with a Rockstar in taking what I call a Sonic Selfie and hope for a credibility transfer.

Ivy: 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. It might work in the short term, but it doesn’t last over time because culture changes and that pop star might go away but you want your brand to last. You need to know what you want your brand to stand for, and what its fundamental notes are. What I admire about the James Bond brand is that when they first created the series, they clearly knew the energy of what they wanted the franchise to represent. They were fearless in creating something that could be their own for years to come. They also understood how sound and emotions are connected.

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 Jane Wakely, Lead CMO at Mars Inc.

“We need to think about sound and music very differently if sonic branding is to play an integral role in driving the distinctiveness of the brand.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Jane Wakely, Lead CMO at Mars Inc.

“We need to think about sound and music very differently if sonic branding is to play an integral role in driving the distinctiveness of the brand.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

JANE WAKELY

Lead CMO at Mars, Inc.

 

“We need to think about sound and music very differently if sonic branding is to play an integral role in driving the distinctiveness of the brand.”

 

 
Jane Wakely, Lead CMO, Mars, Inc.

 

Jane Wakely is the lead CMO of Mars Incorporated and Global CMO of Pet Nutrition. She has been instrumental in driving Mars’ unique combination of evidence-based marketing with creativity and purpose at the heart.  This has helped Mars to be recognized as the one of the most creative companies in the world through the Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity and WARC in recent years. In 2019, this included winning the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Sustainable Development Goals with “The Lion’s Share Fund”, an innovative initiative which drives wildlife conservation & biodiversity programs through brand, creative and media partnerships together with the founding members and the UNDP.  Over Jane’s two decades at Mars she has worked across all segments. In her own words, she joined for the great brands such as M&Ms®, SNICKERS®, GALAXY®, EXTRA®, PEDIGREE®, IAMS®, SHEBA®, and ROYAL CANIN® but has stayed for the people, principles and purpose of the company and is energized by the opportunity to make a meaningful and measurable difference. 

Uli Reese: How important is music and sonic in brand building?

Jane Wakely:
If used in the correct way great music can grab attention, convey an emotion and aid communication like nothing else can. What’s important in branding is that most adverts don’t work because people don’t remember the brand, so I think the intriguing thing about music and sonic branding is how it can help us create distinctiveness for our brands.

Reese: Even the big brands feel completely overwhelmed when it comes to sonic identity today. Is that something you see or identify with?


Jane:
It’s still an emerging field and music is so diverse and can seem so subjective it can be hard to know where to start. Over time, the opportunity is how do you make the music you use distinctive to your brand, so that when you hear a sound or music it evokes memory structures and brand meaning. That’s what we’re trying to do with all of our distinctive assets. At Mars the M&M’s characters are more famous than Father Christmas in many places around the world. Consumers maybe only see an M&M character for a nano second and they know what it is – it evokes deeper emotion and memory that distinctly relates to the brand.

Reese: Why is there still this licence driven behaviour with so many brands, for example Pepsi and Coke, as it feels completely non authentic today?

Jane: That’s the difference between sponsorship and branding. You can sponsor and borrow lots of equities and that can play a role in branding but we have to be very careful because ultimately we’re trying to build distinctive brand stories and encode them in people’s memories. I do think Coke have got an amazing equity with their ‘Holidays Are Coming’ Christmas ad. As a consumer, I know that the second I hear that ad it conjures up a feeling of Christmas. That’s the difference between using music as a borrowed memory structure and using music as a distinctive memory structure.

Reese: Would you agree that a comprehensive audio style guide for brands could be useful?

Jane: Firstly, you need to clarify what you’re trying to achieve. For me, music and sonic branding could have two very legitimate roles to play. One is using music to grab attention and create an emotional response and secondly, there is an opportunity for sonic branding to be part of the distinctive memory structures for both outcomes how you brief is important but there’s a difference in intent. There’s nothing wrong with using music to evoke emotion, even if that’s its only role, it’s not there to strengthen the branding. But even in that instance if you have the advertising idea and then the music is the last part of the brief, I don’t think that’s a great way to work. You need to start with the emotional response you want people to have to your communication and brand. In that case, music is a very important tool.

Reese: Do you have an example of that at Mars?

Jane: We did that successfully with the ‘Sarah and Juan’ Extra Gum campaign for Wrigley. It’s beautiful storytelling and what we were trying to communicate is that it’s the ‘extra’ efforts that bring you closer. As the story was being shaped, the team upfront thought about what role music was going to play in creating the right emotion to make that story capture people’s imagination. They ended up using the Elvis Presley track, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’, and recorded it in a very distinctive way with a then up and coming artist called Haley Reinhart. Now that track is not going to be thought of as distinctly extra,  but it stood out to capture attention and it helped deliver the right emotional outtake for the story. Overall, we need to think about sound and music very differently, if sonic branding is to play an integral role in driving the distinctiveness of the brand. We need to be clear what assets we want to create and integrate them from the start of the process, right up-front in the brief.

“Brands need to be multi-dimensional and they need to appeal to all of the senses.”

Reese: Bearing in mind all the innovations in technology, do you think that sonic is the future?

Jane: I don’t think it’s the future but it could be a powerful accelerator for performance in some platforms for the future. Absolutely, I think it will become an increasing part of the future for platforms like Tik Tok, and technology like Alexa and Google Home voice recognition. Brands that think about it now and really start to build their capability in this area could really carve out a competitive advantage by utilising it.

Reese: Who do you think is using audio brilliantly right now?

Jane: I think one brand that uses music well, more for my first point about grabbing attention and capturing emotion is John Lewis. You can tell that music is part of their brief up front in the process, – it’s integral to the creative idea and crafting of the execution.

Reese: What do you see as the main challenges in terms of how to approach sonic branding and voice looking to the future?

Jane: Brands need to be multi-dimensional and they need to appeal to all of the senses. Depending on the platform you use you have to ask, is it sufficient just to have visual distinctiveness? In some platforms yes, but in many platforms no. In this new digital world where voice, sonic and audio are so integral, it’s essential that we begin to leverage all of the senses so that our brands remain top of mind to the consumer.

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 Taeko Yamamoto, Chief Marketing Officer, Fujitsu.

“Sound is an essential element in stirring emotions, evoking memories, and generating feelings that are defined by features often unique to an individual, but generally consistent among wider populations.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Taeko Yamamoto, Chief Marketing Officer, Fujitsu.

“Sound is an essential element in stirring emotions, evoking memories, and generating feelings that are defined by features often unique to an individual, but generally consistent among wider populations.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Taeko Yamamoto

Chief Marketing Officer at Fujitsu

 

“Sound is an essential element in stirring emotions, evoking memories, and generating feelings that are defined by features often unique to an individual, but generally consistent among wider populations.”

 
Taeko Yamamoto, Chief Marketing Officer, Fujitsu

 

As an accomplished manager, Taeko Yamamoto is a firm believer in the extraordinary achievements that are attainable when talented people collaborate around shared goals, and facilitating such achievements is the focus of her work. Ms Yamamoto brings to her work a breadth of hard and soft skills and a global professional network developed through her experience in two of the world’s most recognized firms, Microsoft and IBM, and leading a successful overseas startup. Possessing excellent bilingual communications skills, and valuing Emotional Intelligence as a key complement to technical skills, Ms Yamamoto commits to building high-functioning teams that can sustain performance over time, across markets, and throughout challenges.

Uli Reese: Why do you think sound is becoming so important in the digital age?

Taeko
Yamamoto: Sound and music have always been important, but there seems to be a growing awareness of sonic elements, and growing opportunities for the applications of sound in the digital age.  We are likely to see more widespread and creative applications of sound and music as marketers learn more, and more experts become available to provide advice.  As marketing transitions away from static media to more interactive and multimedia platforms, opportunities will abound, limited, perhaps, only by our imaginations.

Reese: In that case would you say that sound is core to a successful brand?


Taeko:
Sound is an essential element in stirring emotions, evoking memories, and generating feelings that are defined by features often unique to an individual, but generally consistent among wider populations.  So, it’s vital for marketers to better understand how sound could be used more effectively in branding.  If done properly, sound could certainly be central to a successful brand.

Reese: What advice would you have for your colleagues who are overwhelmed by this brave new world of sonic?

Taeko: Some may wish to learn more about sonic before embracing its use, but I can’t see why anyone would feel overwhelmed.  Curious may be a better word.  We recently conducted research with 5,000 respondents, most of whom said that Japanese IT-related companies seemed rather similar, leading us to explore unique ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.  Sonic aspects of branding present opportunities to do this, and opportunities are always welcome.  Sonic aspects fit well in expressing our customer-centric values at Fujitsu, in alignment with the bold visuals we apply to connect emotionally with our customers, and it’s inspiring to imagine how these branding elements could further contribute to the trust we wish to spread throughout the communities we do business in.

“Sound and music have always been important, but there seems to be a growing awareness of sonic elements, and growing opportunities for the applications of sound in the digital age.”

Reese: Following on from that, how important is trust-building in a society like Japan, which is built upon values of peace, happiness and humility?

Taeko: Thank you for the question.  My great-grandfather was a respected member of the samurai order, and he revered the tenets bestowed upon him in his service to society.  Loyalty, responsibility, and discipline were highly valued traits, as were humility and the pursuit of information and improvement, and he, like many others of his time, sought to pass these principles on to the generations that followed.  These traits still thrive today, and I believe they can be found in Japan’s leadership and in our manner of doing business.  Global companies have mission statements and core sets of values that are adhered to in varying degrees, if at all.  Our values at Fujitsu are meaningful to us individually, throughout the organization, as they form a vision we all wish to realize: a human society lifted toward an ever-better quality of life through individual and corporate responsibility, contribution, and trust.  Just one example is Fujitsu’s supercomputer “Fugaku,” which is currently tasked with modelling solutions to the current pandemic.  This kind of meaning behind our activities exemplifies our attitudes toward our work and senses of purpose.

Reese: Would you agree that effective sonic branding can have an impact on business performance?

Taeko: Certainly.  Anything that enhances the emotional aspects of brand imaging and the buying process can have an impact on business performance.  When a company can synthesize these elements around a product or service, competitive advantages can be obtained.

Reese: So do you think that sonic will become vital to any CMO’s branding roadmap moving forward?

Taeko: As briefly discussed, sonic is playing an increasingly significant role as awareness grows among marketers.  As marketing platforms evolve, technology and techniques will also evolve, increasing the opportunities for the use of sonic in branding.  As that occurs, sonic could very well become an important part of a CMO’s branding roadmap.

Reese: Do you believe that music can have an impact – either negative or positive – on consumer-buying behaviour?

Taeko: It’s difficult to imagine music having a negative impact, though I suppose it’s possible.  Branding and marketing create context for sales, and the aim is to make people feel good about their decisions.  Music can be an important part of that.  When these align with the company’s mission, it can be deeply fulfilling, as well, and that is consistent with what we strive for at Fujitsu.

Reese: You talk about the company’s mission, so should brands have a long-term strategy in place when it comes to the use of sonic in branded communication?

Taeko: Brand management is best served through a system of consistency and creativity, showcasing the brand as a continuum of positive impressions and adaptation.  Different elements may be in play at different stages, but sonic elements could certainly have a place in a long-term strategy.  The key is integrating them, like any critical element, into the guiding principles and clear purpose of the brand as new techniques and technologies are brought to bear on emerging opportunities.

Reese: Is there a particular brand you’ve admired for their use of music?

Taeko: I’ve been moved by music for as long as I could remember, so I feel that mentioning only a few brands is a disservice to the scores of marketers out there doing great work for their brands.  That said, I think Coca-Cola has used and continues to use music in branding to great effect, both locally and globally.  Hitachi has been effective domestically in its use of music, inspiring everyone from children to the elderly to sing songs from their commercials.  My former colleagues at Microsoft also deserve recognition for so effectively inspiring the world to embrace Windows 95 with “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones, and Windows XP with Madonna’s “Ray of Light.”  The most recent example I could give is Apple’s use of pop music in the impressive minimalist promotion of the latest iPhone, integrating the music with the feature visuals in a highly appealing way.

Reese: Before we end, what is the most important statement you would like to make regarding your work at Fujitsu?

Taeko: Thank you for yet another thoughtful question, though not an easy one to answer.  I suppose I would most like to make a positive difference in advancing Fujitsu’s mission of building trust in society through innovation.  For me, both professionally and personally, that would be a most notable achievement.

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