The element of insurance marketing you may have forgotten

When developing a brand identity there is one after-thought you need to pay attention to

The element of insurance marketing you may have forgotten

Insurance News


PHMG’s director of voice and music Dan Lafferty explains how sound forms a powerful and essential element of the marketing mix. Find out more about PHMG here.

Audio is too often viewed as an afterthought when it comes to marketing and branding.

When developing a brand identity, insurers inevitably tend to focus on visual assets – such as stationary, brochures or event stands – and digital presence.

The ‘look’ of the brand is seen as paramount and although that is understandable, it is worth considering that our hearing is actually a more powerful emotional sense than our sight.

This means the sounds we hear have greater potential for sparking the recall of feelings and memories. In fact, humans are hard-wired to trust their sense of hearing more than their sense of sight.

A study conducted as part of the Hearing Body project at the University College London found participants could have their perceptions of their own body image distorted by changes in sound. It was revealed that, by changing the sound of someone’s footsteps, it is possible to trick them into believing they are heavier than they are.

This idea can be translated to business. If an insurer uses the appropriate sounds through its marketing, particularly over the telephone, it is possible to instil positive emotions in the listener, such as trust or satisfaction.

The real face of audio branding

Often, audio branding is confused with just being ‘sonic logos’, those short jingles created by companies to feature in television or radio advertising, such as the famous Intel jingle.

The other misconception is that audio branding is restricted to huge, multinational organisations with sizeable marketing budgets when, in reality, it has practical applications for firms of all sizes.

Easily the largest application of audio branding is on the telephone. When a customer or prospect calls to make an enquiry, they rely on their hearing to create an opinion of the organization. If the sounds they hear are inappropriate or unprofessional, this can create a lasting negative perception that is hard to shake.

Caller experience is vital to the industry, particularly considering research conducted by PHMG has found insurance firms in North America put callers on hold for an average of 27.5 seconds per call. This is around the same length of time as a typical TV advert, so represents an important window for communication.

Careful thought should be given to what callers hear during this time. Research conducted by global research consultancy TNS found 65% of Americans feel more valued if they hear customized voice and music while waiting on hold and 66% said it made a company sound more professional.

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Avoid common mistakes

Common mistakes include leaving callers listening to silence, rings or beeps while they wait on hold. Even voice and music messages can have a detrimental effect if they are repetitive, poorly designed or provide too little information to keep the customer engaged.

Many companies believe using a popular track is an easy way to keep callers engaged and entertained yet these songs come with existing ‘emotional baggage’ so could spark negative associations in the mind of the listener.

The only way to take control is for companies to create their own, customized audio brand, creating voice and music that is designed to reinforce brand values and fit neatly alongside visual branding.

Most firms will work with an outsourced partner to do this and the process is not too dissimilar to the creation of a visual brand. Rather than choosing voice and music then working backwards to attach meaning, it is important to consider what values are desired and choose the sound attributes that reflect these.
Find your voice

When it comes to voice, there are a number of different attributes to consider, including gender, age and accent.

For example, masculine voices are typically perceived as authoritative, while feminine voices veer more towards welcoming and understanding. Similarly, an older voice is usually perceived as more knowledgeable and experienced, while younger voices are seen as energetic and enthusiastic.

In the insurance industry trust is key, firms might be best advised to select an older voice with a professional tone, with the choice of masculine or feminine depending on the preferred style – masculine being more corporate and feminine being more service-oriented.

Regional accents and dialect should also be a consideration for companies with a strong regional identity, helping them to establish a sense of provenance and speak to customers in a relatable manner.

When choosing music, attributes such as volume, pitch and tempo can all be used to convey specific emotional meaning and reinforce brand values. Insurance firms tend to choose upbeat tracks that use live drums and a mixture of traditional and electronic instrumentation, usually with a catchy melody. The idea is to create a sense of optimism in the listener and inspire action, while reinforcing the trust and professionalism established through choice of voice.

 An appropriate selection of voice and music should work with visual branding to reinforce company values and assure customers they are dealing with a brand they can rely on.

Effective audio branding can help insurers stand out from the competition and add another communication tool to the marketing arsenal.

The preceding article was an opinion piece from PHMG’s director of voice and music Dan Lafferty. The views expressed within the article are not necessarily those of Insurance Business. Find out more about PHMG here.

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