As brands continue to pour ad dollars into digital audio – the format grew to $2.3 billion in 2018, up 23 percent from the previous year – many marketers are tuning in to how they’re heard and not seen.
To that end, Pandora on Wednesday debuted Studio Resonate, a consulting arm that aims to help brands navigate tasks like creating a “sonic logo,” which is a tune or sound that listeners associate with any given brand. The music and podcast streaming company says the consultancy will also provide services such as audio creative, strategy and live activations. Furniture maker Ashley HomeStore signed up as a client, as did a “major home improvement retailer” and “large CPG brand,” Pandora says, adding that it couldn’t share other client names just yet.
Pandora will emphasize Studio Resonate next week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
“What we’ve seen – and heard – is that we’re adept at blending science and art in a way that ultimately helps us generate desired perceptual and behavioral outcomes for our clients,” Steve Keller, sonic strategy director at Pandora, says. “It’s one of the things that has differentiated us in this space.”
Although Pandora has provided these services to advertising clients for years, the launch of Studio Resonate includes new hires – such as Keller – and brings its entire suite of audio talent under one roof.
“We work as archeologists, digging through brand books, market research, positioning papers, conducting interviews and attempting to gain a holistic understanding of brand purpose, meaning and values,” Keller says. “We then start listening. We do a series of audits. How has the brand used sound in the past? How are they using sound currently? How are their competitors using sound? What’s their sonic ecosystem? This information provides an audio assessment of the brand.”
Other third-party companies offer similar services. But Keller says Pandora is armed with a treasure trove of data, allowing its clients to make decisions based on how consumers respond to things such as pacing and audio length. Keller says the company can “test results in a way that not only proves outcomes, but optimizes the sonic identity over time.”
Gabriel DeLorenzi, senior director of creative services at Ashley HomeStore, says he quickly realized how little Ashley HomeStore knew when it came to how consumers perceive sound.
“If you go back to the heyday of comic books – the ‘pows!’ and ‘kaplunks!’ with crazy fonts and textures – the color and fonts used conveyed how your brain would hear those words,” DeLorenzi says. “There is a crazy connection between colors and consonants. So if you have a brand word that starts with ‘K’ or a sharp sound, your brand feels like it has a red color or larger pop. That was the start of all this and people didn’t know we were doing it on purpose.”
Pandora is banking the move to help it attract new business from its existing roster of clients, adding more value than what traditional agencies can offer.
“We are not trying to replace the role of the creative shop,” says Lizzie Widhelm, senior VP of ad innovation at Pandora. “We want to build out a larger strategy and our team sits at the relationship level of performance.”