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Interview with Brandmusiq - Rajeev Raja

Interview with Brandmusiq - Rajeev Raja
Prediction is that e-commerce purchasing through voice activation will explode in the next few years!
Rajeev Raja and Ajit Verma Co-founders of Brandmusiq talk about Sonic branding, sharing key insights on the concept and how major brands have embraced the concept for advertising across the globe in an interesting conversation writes Priyaankaa Mathur. Talking about the very concept of sonic branding Raja chose to go back in time to look at the power of sound and music by saying, “So our ancestors must have created the first sounds as act of mimicking nature be it the creation of the seven notes through the human voice or creation of the very first flute, all have taken inspiration from a bird’s calls or the sound of thunder or the lapping of the waves, thus music emerged from a very primal instinct of human beings. Taking in one step ahead, brands have always understood that very primal instinct and how Radio was predominant when Television came into existence, and brands started with a bandwagon saying that why don’t we send our message with a song, so initially in radio the concept of jingles came into being, which is about communication of a brand’s message but delivered in the form of a song, that becomes catchy and popular and becomes a de-facto kinds of a brand identity." "You need to experience how the sound works on the brands, so this is what is to demonstrate it to you", said Raja who’s trained in Karnataka music and played a tune on a metallic concert flute, playing a piece to me, "..with my eyes closed to see what I experience in terms of imagery and how it works. It was a piece in Raga Hamswadhwani and the images I saw were of classical dancers invocating the Lord Ganesha." Explaining the imagery that I saw Raja said, “That the reason I saw so was by design and not by an accident, and anybody whom he had played it to have seen classical dancers, nature, rivers and the mountains. So wherever we play it everyone had the same feeling. So if we try to associate this piece of music, which brand it could be… and it could be some aromatic brand, a perfume or an Agarbatti or any herbal brand or say Kerela Tourism. So music has a certain science and brands have a certain personality, and this is the co-relation that sonic branding represents." Talking about the dramatic shift in media and the way consumer behaviour  has changed raja referred  to the opportunities for sonic branding by saying, "Firstly, the Majority of consumers especially the millennials are behaving differently as they watch all their content on the small screens of their smartphones, second is the shorter attention spans as speed is becoming the essence as you don’t have a luxury of a 30 sec advertisement adv. you have to create an impact in just 3 seconds to retain the audience’s attention, next is the fragmented media depending on what  and when are they watching, as they have the access of the  entire digital ecosystem of apps, digital content and alert notifications all have created opportunities  for sonic branding.”   "And to do it in 3 seconds is what Brandmusiq has been doing for last 8 years and has been actually ahead of the time as today the phrase ‘Sonic branding’ is exploding today across the world. So if you look at Cannes the biggest conversation has been on the representation of Audio first world where Alexa, Google, all smart speakers, Pandora, Spotify, Jio Saavn and all your screening channels are now opportunities for brands to be heard and not necessarily seen. So the prediction is that smart speaker economy i.e. e-commerce purchasing through voice activation what we call as an in the invisible medium is going to explode, so will radio and also podcast which is estimated to be a multi-million dollar industry in next couple of years." added Raja Ajit Verma adds, “So we are working with a tool to create a brand asset. As per the current data e-commerce, voice led activation is going to be a 40 billion business in 3 years’ time. So just to imagine if a brand does not have a sonic identity of a voice asset or a sound asset and in the whole commercial interaction, you will be absent because I can’t see anything no graphics, no picture, no visual. So it’s important for brands to invest, nurture it so it becomes an asset for tomorrow and so many people and brands are realising it.” How has the concept of Sonic branding created a shift for the brands, “Therefore this has led to another need for another dimension to be added to brand,i.e the shift from looking at music just as a communication device to communicate the brands message wherein the music  is seen as an enhancer and identifier for a brand which is more subtle but more deeper and is more persuasive rather than banking on audience to hear a jingle like the visual identity. So just as a visual identity is consistent across touch points, the sonic identity is all consistent at ear points.”  Sighting with an example of Coke as a brand Raja Said, Brands have a certain DNA and personalities, for example, if you take the brand coke, there are certain softer feelings that the brand represents and if you see the personality that is similar to a human being which is very different from Pepsi's as a personality. Now if we start matching, coke's personality traits and the emotions of the key brand, to musical expressions taking into account the musical legacy, the market it is operating in, for example Raga Hamsadhwani rendered on a flute in India will have a different impact  of the same rendered on a western classical piano, so using the same notes will have a slightly different Impact. So we need to understand the culture in which the brand is operating in, the competition it faces, if the competition is using audio for communication, So we match the personality of the brand with its expression in sound." So how to deal with two brands having the same product, Raja replied “For example, if we deal with HDFC bank, so it has competitors are SBI, ICICI, etc. So before we start we need to understand the brand what is called the ‘Brand Discovery Phase’, so it is to understand the brand strategy with the marketing team and the creative agency for certain filters that we use,  Second is creating the ‘Sonic Mood Board’, where we  leap from paper to music to create the sketches of sounds to help clients identify the zone of their brand’s that at the end of these sessions, it’s not about the description of the brand on the piece of paper, but it is about the image of the brand that we want to leave on the hearts and the minds. Third, the stage is to create the MOGOSCAPE presentation that is the sonic palette of the brand embedded within which is the MOGO.” Talking about the MOGO Raja said “A MOGO is essentially a short form for ‘musical logo’. It is the sonic essence of a brand in musical terms and evokes its core values, emotions and persona, which is beyond a recognition device for a brand which is when you hear the first few bars of a song or a sound your memory is evoked. It’s when a consumer hears a brands MOGO it unlocks the brand memories, without the brand being present visually. Creating a MOGO is a three-stage process, explained Raja, “We call it as MUSE (Musical Strategy Exercise), which includes, first ‘Brand Discovery’ where we understand the brand as a human being to identify its distinct personality and emotions associated with it. Brandmusiq has executed a number of sonic branding assignments for brands such as Zee News, Vistara, and Taj Mahal Tea, Standard Chartered Bank, (Global) and Shapoorji Pallonji Group, TATA salt, Raymond, IndusInd Bank, Reliance Petroleum, Myntra to name a few." Talking about his experience on the panel on 'Music in Advertising-Sync licensing, Endorsements and Sonic Branding' at Music Inc. Raja said, “I think it’s a great initiative to bring the whole world of music together to include, brands marketers, leaders and experts. I think the whole idea of ‘Sync and Licencing’ and the whole concept was ear opening, which includes a legal part but also creative parts too, also the whole creativity of creating content in sync with the brand and third was the creativity being involved with the whole thing with musicians and content made a lot of sense.”  

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