Dan Lafferty examines the psychology behind audio branding and how travel agents can use sound to influence customer behaviour.

 

Visual branding is a key component of any travel agency’s marketing strategy. From signage to travel brochures and websites to confirmation emails, the importance of visual marketing is fully understood and is often the first point of call for businesses wanting to communicate company values and reinforce the intended brand image.

 

But what about how your business sounds?

Audio branding is often overlooked in favour of its visual counterpart, yet companies are still unaware of how sound can have a powerful impact on the subconscious of customers.

Take, for example, the voice and music heard over the telephone. If a customer calls to make an enquiry, their ears are their only tool for formulating an initial judgement so simply by using the wrong tone of voice, inappropriate music or an impolite manner can have a lasting detrimental effect.

The voice of your business

When it comes to constructing an audio profile for your company, it pays to choose an expert who can best determine the most suitable style, tone and overall sound of your business.

Rather than forcing a particular piece of music or a random voice to fit, start by taking your existing visual branding and work forwards. This gives a framework of the company’s desired image and values which can be adhered to.

There are a number of different attributes to consider when choosing the voice of your business. For example, the voice could be male or female, young or old and even using an accent. Ultimately, it comes down to what these different elements represents and communicates to the customer.

When booking a holiday, consumers need to know that they can trust your business with their money and to provide them with a top-level service.

In this context, it is somewhat unsurprising that research has found the most popular voice of the industry is male and aged between 45 and 55-years-old. A masculine voice is typically perceived as distinguished and authoritative, which is reinforced by the dependability and professionalism of the age profile.

A feminine voice, on the other hand, tends to be perceived as soothing and welcoming, while a younger voice suggests vibrancy and enthusiasm. Ultimately, it is a case of choosing the best combination to suit your particular brand.

For companies with a strong sense of regional identity, an accent could work well. It provides listeners with a feeling of familiarity and could be the difference in whether a customer chooses one business over another due to the sense they will be better understood.

Hitting the right notes

Emotions, either positive or negative, can be attached to songs so using a popular music track on your phone line could be dangerous.

Like with voice, an existing music track shouldn’t be made to fit a new purpose to convey a message it was never intended to. By creating a new, bespoke tune, it is guaranteed to be unique to your business and ensures it perfectly complements the existing brand values.

Pitch, volume and tempo all have to be taken into consideration when constructing a tailor-made tune. The physical attributes of the track – major, minor, loud, quiet, fast or slow – are all used to communicate with the customer emotionally and each have different connotations.

The travel industry has been found to use music which is personable, bright and charming. When people go to book a holiday, it’s with excitement so using an upbeat, optimistic tune reflects the intended mood of the customer.

This, alongside the professional voice, ensures that even though the business promotes fun and enjoyment, the company is still seen as reliable and trustworthy.

Refresh and engage

Hearing something on repeat will eventually become aggravating, so it is important to be aware of this when deploying audio messages. When a customer hears the same thing each time they ring the company, they will eventually reach a point where they simply switch off.

Refreshing the content of the messages ensures callers are not only kept aware with updated information on the latest travel offers and new destinations, but also makes sure they are kept engaged and entertained so as to retain their attention and keep them on the line.

Sound functions as a less-intrusive marketing tool, warming a customer up for purchase before they even speak to someone. It grabs attention, creates a positive impression and sparks brand recognition and has a more profound, lasting effect than bold, visual advertising. The implications for profitability are truly clear. 

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