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  • Writer's pictureSai Raghavan

The Power of Sound – Part 1: The invisible puppeteer

Updated: Aug 14, 2018

In a video-obsessed world, we explore the importance of sound in a 4-part series.

The world of brands is dominated by the one sense – sight.

Logos and brand identities are deemed to be almost exclusively visual, and designers and Marketers evaluate and approve them on the basis of color, shape and proportion. Does it look distinctive? Does it look unique? Do the colors communicate the right values about the product and brand? Does the visual identity stand out on the supermarket shelf? Does it pass the peripheral vision test? In the design and branding community, we pay a great deal of attention to visual design and all the specific elements that go into it.

All retail design is also visual. Showrooms that “look like” this or have those colors, with staff wearing uniforms in these other colors. Attention is also paid, rightly, to the space itself. Is it open? Welcoming? Warm? Busy, bustling and exciting? VM is, well, visual.

Then there are videos. Everyone’s watching them. Everyone’s making them. Agencies and influencers outdoing one another in producing unprecedented amounts of video content. Visual storytelling is all the rage at the backend of these videos and indeed of all branded film content. In all our years in the communication business, we have been a part of the creation of many a campaign that revolved around video – first in a world dominated by TVCs and now in the video world. And the events unfolding on screen are almost always the dominant focus of every discussion around branded content. Who goes where with whom and does what? What are the fancy special effects we’ll use? All of it is color coded and visually interesting. In effect, we think only with our eyes.

In all this excessive focus on visual design and visual storytelling, we forget an extremely important aspect of communication – sound. We forget the extent to which sound shapes our experiences. Sound shapes our understanding of what we see. It shapes our emotional responses to life around us. We respond and react to the slightest intonational fluctuations in the way people speak, to the decibel levels of music and ambient chatter and the horn of the car behind us. Sound shapes experience, certainly as much as sight. Perhaps even more so. And yet all of us know what the brands under our care look like but are quite clueless on that other crucial aspect.

Go on. Take a moment. Think about it. What does your brand sound like?

Watch this brilliant video from The Nerdwriter in which Video editing guru Evan Puschak details out the importance of sound design with a live example from a Steven Spielberg film. In the video, Puschak clearly shows us that sound is the all-important puppeteer behind the film medium controlling what viewers learn, infer, feel, experience as they watch a video.

Video source: The Nerdwriter

Do you know what your brand sounds like? Is your brand team thinking enough (or at all) about sound design? Does your brand’s identity have a clear definition of its auditory profile? Are the numerous branded videos you produce using careful sound design for optimal effectiveness, or are they in fact accompanied by thoughtless noises which at worst irritate your target audience and at best bore the daylights out of them? Is the absence of careful sound design the reason your videos are falling flat on engagement? What about your retail spaces, both offline and online? They may look great, but do they sound good? Welcoming? Inviting? Enjoyable? Does your website have a sound? Why not?

Stay with us over the course of this series as we tease different aspects of sound and its importance in the Brand Marketing ecosystem.


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