5 Strategies Retailers Should Consider to Break The Sonic Color Line

Amplifying diverse voices in advertising is not only important, it’s necessary. It paves a way for consumers of all cultures to be seen and heard—and this can be achieved through sonic strategies that can impact how multicultural audiences spend their time and their money. 

At SXM Media, our in-house creative consultancy, Studio Resonate, is leading a “

Stand for Sonic Diversity” initiative, built to bring awareness to how we listen, diversify the sonic spaces we inhabit, and change the creative choices we’re making—so together, we can break the sonic color line and redefine the sound of the American voice.

Let’s look at 5 takeaways from the virtual event featured above and hosted by

Lauren Chesley, SXM Media’s Head of Industry for Retail, and Studio Resonate’s Sonic Strategy Director,
Steve Keller
, as they engage in a live Q&A providing key insights retailers want to know about how to be more inclusive in advertising, how to use sound to capture attention, and how to get started.

Highlights from “Crossing the Sonic Color Line: Strategies for Sonic Diversity Q&A:”

1. What’s an example of how tech is playing a role in the evolution of sonic innovation and strategy?

“Apple recently has developed two new voices for Siri, and these are voices that have some sonic markers for voices of color. [...] When you first set up Siri, you’re going to have to choose a voice. [...] You’re not by default saying, ‘here’s the voice that everyone’s going to hear.’ You need to choose a voice, so you’re choosing the voice with the representation you want it to have.”

Steve Keller, Sonic Strategy Director, Studio Resonate

Listen up for more on sonic innovation and strategy from Steve Keller:
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2. What are some best practices in increasing voice diversity in sourcing talent?

“We have to be careful with these stereotypes [...] We have to be careful that we don’t exacerbate the problem in finding a solution. We’re talking about increasing voice diversity, but as you know, even within cultures, there’s a diversity in the sound of voices there. If we're not careful, in attempting to promote diversity, we may start selecting voices that fit our perceptions of what those voices need to sound like.”

Steve Keller, Sonic Strategy Director, Studio Resonate

Listen up for more on best practices for increasing voice diversity from Steve Keller:
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3. How can we look at casting from a different lens to evolve how we choose diverse talent?

“Experiential learning; I am huge on this because when you feel it and are experiencing it, it resonates differently than when you’re just talking about it. My recommendation is always to give examples and to look at the brands that do it well, and bring that back to your creative teams, your agencies, and say 'this is our ultimate goal, so how do we start?' ” 

Lauren Chesley, Retail Head of Industry, SXM Media

Listen up for more on casting from a different lens from Lauren Chesley:
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4. Where do we start?

“So much of this starts with listening. So much of it starts with conversation and dialogue. It’s not a debate; it’s a dialogue. [...] We’re all on a learning journey together. Making sure you get curious, making sure that you stay open and in a posture to learn, and leveraging resources and the people around you is definitely key to getting started. ” 

Lauren Chesley, Retail Head of Industry, SXM Media

Listen up for more on how to get started from Lauren Chesley & Steve Keller:
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5. Are there any lessons we can learn from minority movements in the past?

“This is about awareness and it’s about moving into action. [...] Knowing and doing better as a result of it. [...] Put on the hat of an active ally, and get comfortable in the discomfort.” 

—Lauren Chesley, Retail Head of Industry, SXM Media

Listen up for more on the need to take action from Lauren Chesley & Steve Keller:
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For more about the Sonic Color Line and its history, listen to Stitcher's

Ologies podcast.

In

this particular episode of Ologies, host Alie Ward interviews linguistics professor Dr. Nicole Holliday about intonational phonology: how tones and pitch help us bond with others and construct identities. Dr. Holliday's work focuses on how language is used in the crossing and construction of racial/ethnic boundaries. She fielded tons of questions for a dive into the nuances and grammatical rules of African American language, cultural appropriation, our educational system, honoring identities, and more.