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Rewriting the book on brand storytelling

Feb 08, 2019
We’ve already discovered why telling a great story is so important to a brand – so now it’s time to establish how you’re going to get this message to the consumer. In a marketing landscape packed with plots, scenes, and a cast of characters bigger than Game of Thrones, a traditional website, print ad or promotional video may not be enough. Brand stories are becoming all the more innovative, and there’s a host of increasingly inventive ways to tell your tale.

As consumers, we’re all used to seeing TV adverts, billboards and online promotions – so companies are increasingly exploring alternative methods of showcasing their story to make an impression with something different. Experiential marketing is a huge part of this, with many a brand hosting unique events that may not reach as wide an audience as broadcast media, but offer an unforgettable experience to the few lucky enough to attend. Out of Home advertising is also really pushing boundaries, and the billboards we’re all used to are transforming in remarkable and interactive ways. But beyond AI billboards that grade people’s outfits and an immersive Converse townhouse, there’s another medium breaking new ground in branding: sound.

From bone induction headphones to 3D audio, new developments in sound are constantly coming to the fore – and the latest is causing a real stir. ASMR – otherwise known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – is an auditory phenomenon whereby listeners experience a pleasant, calming sensation when they listen to sound stimuli such as whispering, page turning, tapping or scratching. A real cultural movement, it’s grown in perception and popularity, with current YouTube searches for ASMR returning more than two million results. As the concept grew, marketers began their adoption too – and both KFC and Mars Dove have created ads that aligned this pleasurable sensation with their product. And following these debuts, ASMR has now really hit the marketing big time. 

As far as advertising stages go, they don't come much bigger than The Super Bowl. A 30-second slot within this year’s event cost a record $5.25 million – no surprise when you consider it reaches a viewership of more than 100 million. With the audiences, the stakes and the costs so high, brands can’t afford to get it wrong – and drinks brand Michelob Ultra put their faith in ASMR for their 2019 ad. Leading Lady Zoe Kravitz sits at a table (much like ASMR YouTube sensations do) in a lush Hawaiian setting, whispering into her dual microphones, tapping her long fingernails against a bottle of the ice-cold organic beer, and pouring the liquid into a tall glass with an over-accentuated fizz. In a scene that’s dominated by loud, brash and bombastic ads that are predominantly visual focused, it was a bold move for Michelob to create something so calm, quiet and reliant on audio. Yet as brand VP Azania Andrews said, "in this sea of loudness and noise, this unique ad will offer disruptive quiet."

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Michelob Ultra took a risk with ASMR – but in defining this calm, reflective audio brand in a cacophony of noise, they made a real bang. And this shows organisations can reap these benefits by introducing audio branding as an alternative method of storytelling for their business. While many forms of communication reach a consumer on only one level, audio branding innovates by projecting a message in three different ways – with creative copy in the distinct tone of a business; with a voice that speaks of identity in the most human way; and with a custom composed, exclusive Brand-Sound-Track™ that captures the heart and soul of a company, memorably and emotively. This sound story offers ultimate listener engagement. And when it’s employed in a variety of channels – including online, as part of an event or to a captive audience waiting on-hold – it’ll create an audio impact comparable to that of Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl commercial.

In the world of ASMR, it’s important to speak under your breath. But just like audio branding, it delivers more than a whisper when it comes to its effect on the consumer.