Audio Branding Your Podcast & Business

May 31, 2023

Audio Branding

With the rise of audio media such as podcasts, voice interface, and streaming content, along with more established media like TV, radio, and online content, how you sound is just as important as how you look. When you can’t see the brand, you have to hear the brand. I chat with audio branding expert John Sanfilippo about assessing your sonic footprint, creating a sound style guide and the benefits to boosting your audio brand.

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In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Delve into the crucial nature of sonic identity for enhanced brand acknowledgement.
  • Master the technique of fusing brand qualities with an evocative musical language.
  • Understand the fundamental connection between consistency, uniqueness, and thriving sonic branding.
  • Design a comprehensive sound portfolio to express your brand’s essence in the auditory realm.
  • Cultivate emotional branding that strikes a chord with your audience through authenticity and personal touches.

Podcast Post CTAs

[00:01:22] – Audio in Branding
John talks about the importance of sound in branding, especially in today’s world where there is so much audio media.

[00:08:24] – Mistakes in Sound Selection
John discusses the mistake people make of choosing music based on personal preferences rather than the brand they’re trying to build, and the importance of creating a congruent, recognizable sonic identity.

[00:15:19] – Creating a Sound Style Guide
John talks about how he creates a sound style guide, including identifying key traits to express and outlining do’s and don’ts of instrumentation, genre, voice, and sound.

[00:16:16] – Sonic Branding
John discusses the importance of creating a sonic signature for a brand, including key signature words and a melodic sound. They outline how these assets are disseminated to all media touchpoints.

[00:18:15] – Authenticity in Branding
John emphasizes the importance of creating authentic branding and how sound can help brands express themselves properly. He discusses the impact of COVID on branding and the need for flexibility while staying on-brand.

[00:20:47] – Sonic Assets in Different Media
John explains the importance of creating flexible sonic assets that can be adapted to different media. He references the trend of every COVID commercial being the same and how brands with established sonic identities were able to switch gears emotionally.

[00:24:07] – Creating Sonic Assets
John advises businesses to take a hard look in the mirror and get a sense of who they are and what they want to express. He suggests listening to their existing podcast to get a sense of what vibes they give off and what sonic assets would be on-brand.

[00:26:32] – Authenticity in Music
John explains that music is a universal language and emphasizes the importance of authenticity in music. He advises against second-guessing and trying to apply the perceived tastes of the audience, and instead suggests expressing oneself authentically.

You have a sonic identity whether you’ve designed it or not. So you want to make sure that the identity you’re creating is congruent with who you actually are. – John Sanfilippo

Audio in Branding

Audio plays a significant role in branding, especially with the rise in popularity of podcasts, streaming content, and voice interfaces. A unique and powerful sonic identity can help a brand stand out among a sea of competitors while ensuring easy recognition for consumers. Being mindful of the importance of audio in branding, it becomes imperative to choose sounds and music that align with the company’s values and messages. A well-crafted sonic identity can make all the difference between blending in or gaining attention in the noisy world of today’s digital media platforms. 

Mistakes in Sound Selection

Choosing inappropriate or incongruent audio for a brand is a common mistake many entrepreneurs and podcasters make. It’s essential to be objective when selecting sounds, focusing on achieving brand congruence. An ideal sonic identity should help in conveying the brand’s message and core attributes, thus creating a lasting impression in the minds of listeners. 

John Sanfilippo emphasizes the importance of avoiding personal bias when picking sounds for branding. He explains that successful sonic branding comes from keeping the target audience in mind and strategically selecting music that matches the brand’s identity. By doing this, the brand ensures better resonance with its audience, leading to improved recognition and loyalty.


Sonic Branding

Brands can increase their recognizability and resonance with consumers through the strategic use of sonic branding. It enables them to create a consistent and distinctive audio identity that allows for easier recall. 

A strong sonic brand can even be recognizable without the brand name being mentioned, as long as the audio is consistent and congruent. John Sanfilippo emphasizes the power of sonic branding in the podcast, pointing out that when a brand is strong, even removing its name from an advertisement can still trigger recognition among consumers. He highlights that consistency and distinctiveness are crucial for successful sonic branding, making it vital for brands to have a focused and tailored sound strategy.

Creating a Sound Style Guide

A sound style guide serves as a blueprint for a brand’s sonic identity. This guide outlines the key traits the brand wants to express, and how this translates into music, voice, and sound. It should contain information on what to do and what not to do with regards to instrumentation, genre, spoken voice, and even the written degree. 

During his discussion with Lyndsay Phillips, John Sanfilippo stresses the importance of creating a sound style guide. He shares his experience working with clients, where he begins by creating this guide to address the clients’ desires for their brand’s sound. A comprehensive sound style guide helps maintain consistency across different touchpoints while allowing the brand’s sonic identity to evolve and adapt as needed.

Authenticity in Branding

Creating an authentic brand identity is more important now than ever, as the modern world prioritizes genuine connections and relatability. An authentic and distinct sonic identity helps brands forge deeper and longer-lasting relationships with their target audience. The overall brand experience becomes more meaningful and memorable when people feel emotionally connected to it. 

John believes that staying true to the brand’s core values enables businesses to create and maintain genuine connections with their customers. By focusing on authenticity and personalization, brands can thrive as they navigate the competitive, ever-changing business landscape.

About John

You may not recognize his name, but his work has been heard throughout the province and across the country.

When John Sanfilippo was a child, he would spend time playing radio with tape recorders. In his teens, he started playing music. In his twenties he got into media and advertising. Then in his thirties, he finally found a way to put them all together.

In 2012 he founded SoundWise, an audio branding and production agency based in Kingston, Ontario. We often think of branding visually; you have a consistent logo, colour palette, and typeface. Audio branding does the same thing but with music, voice, and sound. With the rise of audio media such as podcasts, voice interface, and streaming content, along with more established media like TV, radio, and online content, how you sound is just as important as how you look. SoundWise gets to the core of your brand and brings it into the realm of sound with a comprehensive strategy and branded sonic assets.


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