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118 - Finance Digest │ Financial Literacy │ Financial PlanningBy Michele Arnese, CEO and Founder, amp sound branding

There are a variety of reasons as to why a consumer may choose a particular insurance brand, the cost/benefit analysis that dictates a purchase will certainly include price, recognisability, reputation, and scope of the policy itself. All of these elements, alongside plenty of situational factors, matter. Fundamentally, the customer will want to feel satisfied that they have bought the right policy – and underpinning that, they will need to trust the brand to deliver.

As consumer expectations rise, innovators and sector disruptors have rapidly emerged across markets and insurance. It could be suggested that we now operate within the realms of an expectation-based economy, where customer service and experience have a huge effect on the societal perception and success of a brand, as consumers are hungry for innovative and cutting-edge experiences.

The insurance industry has felt the rise of Insurtech, dramatic changes in the delivery and execution of policies and the increased use of aggregators and comparison sites – all resulting in a significant increase in the amount of technology used in the path to purchase.

As technology is now so engrained in the process of researching, purchasing and experiencing a brand, insurers who consider the full scope of how we as humans interact with different technologies and brand touch points to establish a meaningful connection with their customer base will likely see stronger success.

Technology is both accelerating in complexity and capability, diversifying in terms of how it engages with our senses.

From simple screens and texting to smart screens and swiping, we’re now moving on to screen-less or multi-sensory technologies supported by the internet of things and the cloud.

Within this evolution, the importance of sound, voice and music is becoming a key tool for brands seeking to facilitate deeper relationships with customers.

The explosion of technological innovation

This increasingly important avenue of communication in sound is a fantastic opportunity for the adaptive insurance company. We all know certain songs or sounds that resonate in our minds, sparking previous memories or feelings. It is this association that gives sound the power to break the technological barrier and develop emotional connections with a consumer.

The smart speaker and smart assistant market have exploded in popularity, with the market expected to be worth $24.9 billion by 2028. Voice-only interaction now exists in our cars, phones and even our TVs. Screen-less tech has rapidly expanded and brands will increasingly find themselves communicating via audio. Studies suggest 60% of people have started using voice search in the last year, meaning that the discovery of a brand through audio means will become increasingly prevalent.

Modern machine learning tools are now effective in identifying music that evokes special emotional responses from its recipient and is even starting produce such music. The dynamic roll-out of on-brand and effective audio-only ads on podcast and radio platforms demands a solid sonic branding strategy for the best ROI.

Millennials are leading the technological charge, with many actively preferring online or digital options as opposed to physical counterparts. The demographic is also immersed in podcasts, with 41% saying they listen to a podcast at least once a week.

Tuning into your consumer base

As sound becomes more prevalent, we can only expect insurers to start allocating time and resources to building recognisable, identifiable, and effective sonic brands. Much like their visual counterparts, a sonic brand requires careful consideration in the creation and implementation of the branding strategy.

For insurers, investing in sound offers a critical benefit. Audio stimulus has been proven in numerous academic studies to have a far greater psychological impact than what we see. Implicit in that is sounds ability if constructed correctly, to build affinity and trust.

A crucial element of a holistic sonic branding strategy is to create what we at amp call a Sonic DNA, an owned audio identity that is based upon fundamental brand values and personality. Once created, this can now be implemented across all audio outreach, creating a consistent and identifiable strategy, ready to be used across the multi-channel digital world.

We are seeing increased interest and investment into the audio medium, with complex models developing as brands move far beyond simplistic sonic logos and enter a world of specifically commissioned and carefully curated ad sounds that match the underlying sonic brand.

The sound itself that has been created to be associated with the brand will become memorable to the consumer and therefore will build trust. Creating a unique sound will give out an authentic message and can relay brand personality and positioning – fleshing out the relationship by adding a new element of depth to the contact point.

Generic stock music fails to add these nuances to a company’s output, adding very little in terms of branding and relationship building. A sonic DNA, on the other hand, can be flexed into full collaborations between artists and brands – much like the recent Coca-Cola x Tyler, the Creator collaboration.

Current utilisation of techniques

In our latest report on how insurers are investing in sonic branding and music in marketing, amp found that, out of the top 26 insurance companies, only nine of the group had a sonic logo, some brands only using this logo in 8% of their videos. This analysis was drawn from our Best Audio brands Index, an annual publication assessing the top 100 global brands.

Very few utilised their own audio assets, with more than 60% of brands still opting for stock music, and therefore lacked an authentic and on-brand element to the audio side of advertising. With such a heavy reliance on stock music, brands fail to strategically apply sound to enhance emotional connections and to build upon feelings of trust and security.

The standout brands include StateFarm and Amundi, who topped the rankings. However, insurance giants such as Aviva, AXA and ING have shown intent in expanding their sonic branding efforts – with ING creating a new sonic identity last year.

As the insurance industry continues towards a digital future, more brands are expected to find value in sonic branding efforts to enhance consumer confidence and trust. With this, the insurance sector could well become a site of great activity for sonic branding innovation.

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