Sounds Like Creativity: Building a Brand Character

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

This blog post is part of a series celebrating Cannes Lions and creativity in advertising. If you missed the kick-off, you can catch up here

Plenty of brands create characters to better communicate their identity in the marketplace and to make their products more memorable. Some timeless examples include Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, who still displays his friendly (and toothless!) grin on every box of Frosted Flakes cereal, or Proctor and Gamble’s Mr. Clean, who’s bold and muscular physique conveys the strength of various cleaning products. There are great examples too that aren’t cartoons or animations like Dos Equis’ infamous “Most Interesting Man in the World” (who’s now apparently repping tequila, btw).

These examples are proof that a well-executed brand character can have a lasting, positive effect. (Heck, Tony the Tiger originally debuted over 50 years ago and is still going strong!) So it's no secret that creating a character is an excellent advertising tool to improve awareness, recall and even purchase intent. A good character is also highly versatile because it works in both visual and audio-only advertising formats. Not only do characters tend to have a distinct look, but they often also have a highly distinct Voice Profile. Think about the familiar “hoo hoo” giggle of the Pillsbury Doughboy or the classic sign-off from Motel 6’s Tom Bodett. Even the raspy Latin accent of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” is discernable in audio-only.

Forming an effective brand character in audio comes down to a mix of Voice Profile and Theater of the Mind. It's a tactic that can be used to communicate a brand’s values and personality as well as capture the attention of a specific audience. In fact, marketers can create a character and tone customized to appeal to whatever target consumers they're looking to engage--from Millennials to those who like tattoos...

Let’s see an example...

[audio mp3=""][/audio] Featuring copy written by Pandora’s own Ad Creative Team, this ad for a tattoo parlor in Addison, TX aims to engage their target audience with a discount offer on tattoo services. To connect with existing and potential customers, the ad used a distinct Voice Profile that sounds both cool and edgy--an exact embodiment of the clientele this business hoped to reach. Additionally, Cat Tattoo adopted a key Pandora best practice by tying their message into the Pandora environment with creative copywriting that emphasized the uniqueness of both their artwork and the music on Pandora.

Cat Tattoo also successfully checked the boxes on other proven best practices for telling a brand story with sound:

1. USE A CONVERSATIONAL TONE Most audio is consumed through earbuds, so there is no need to shout anymore. Consumers will appreciate you more for speaking to them like you would a friend.

2. ADDRESS THE INDIVIDUAL LISTENER Digital audio allows brands to reach millions of people, one listener at a time. So make it personal! A natural tie-in to the platform will make your message stand out as part of the experience, rather than another ad.

3. EMPLOY A CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION Tell the listener exactly what you want them to do and why. Be specific and straightforward, and they’ll be more likely to follow your direction.

4. COMPLEMENT WITH DISPLAY In an ideal scenario, audio and display go hand-in-hand. Let the audio message deliver the hardworking information, while the display captures the eyes.

Need help finding the perfect voice talent to create a character for your brand? Our Ad Creative Team works with Pandora’s brand partners on everything from copywriting to production, and even hiring the right voice talent to make your message resonate! Get in touch to learn more about how we can help your audio ads stand out for listeners.