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What the French Open can Teach Businesses about Branding

May 15, 2018 • Marketing & Consumers, Editors' Pick, Emerging Ideas

The Ten Key Lessons Every Marketer Should Know

By Laurence Minsky and Colleen Fahey

Improving one’s brand identity is indeed one of the greatest challenges marketers have. It is for this reason that they’re constantly on the lookout for approaches on how they can capture the attention of customers without them being overfamiliar or overwhelmed. Looking at how the French Open created their audio brand and how they have managed it since its launch can help marketers improve the effectiveness of their overall branding efforts – even when they don’t have an audio brand.

 

Professional sporting events, like businesses, have a wide variety of audiences, stakeholders, touchpoints and channels, and are fighting to stand out and win the hearts and minds of their audiences. This holds true even when they have a unique and beloved product. Like business marketers, sports venues and events struggle in unifying all of their communications, so they convey the same personality across all of their touchpoints and platforms but with enough flex in their voices to meet the audience’s specific needs in a particular moment. And like businesses, they experience the common dilemma of keeping the brand fresh year after year while building the recognisability they can only achieve by the long-term consistent use of branding elements.

While internationally recognised as the world’s top clay court tennis championship with more than three billion viewers across the globe,1 the French Open tournament experienced all of these issues. And four years ago, they found a unique, powerful, and highly successful solution – one that can be instructive to all marketers, from consumer to business-to-business.

What was the solution?  They developed an audio brand – a complete language of sound and music composed to deliver their vision, values and promise, just as marketers do with visual branding elements. And then they built that audio brand into key moments of the tournament experience and all its communications.

It sounds like common sense to create an audio brand, but sonic or sound branding is still rarely employed by marketers. As we pointed out in our book, Audio Branding: Using Sound to Build Your Brand, the first step is to recognise that people are more than just visually oriented – that your sound can reinforce the coherence – or incoherence – of your brand promise.2 And, while you might even recognise a few audio logos – Intel, SNCF, McDonald’s, MICHELIN, AXA, for instance, the audio logo is just the first step. A true audio branding system, just like a visual one, is a complete language that extends to all aspects of the sound.

Looking at how the French Open created their audio brand and how they have managed it since its launch can help marketers improve the effectiveness of their overall branding efforts – even when they don’t have an audio brand.

The French Open was the only one located in a country with a Latin-based language. This insight inspired them to embrace every country that has a Latin-based language – infusing a wide range of Latin sounds and styles in the crevation of their sound design.

The initiative began in 2013 and quickly took root. To get started, the French Tennis Federation, along with its audio branding agency, Sixieme Son, looked at the world of tennis. They realised that the major tennis tournaments – the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open – were all from English-speaking countries. The French Open was the only one located in a country with a Latin-based language. This insight inspired them to embrace every country that has a Latin-based language – infusing a wide range of Latin sounds and styles in the creation of their sound design.



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About the Authors

Laurence Minsky is Associate Professor at Columbia College Chicago. He’s a co-author of The Activation Imperative: How to Build Brand and Business by Inspiring Action and Audio Branding: Using Sound to Build Your Brand, among other books.

Colleen Fahey is U.S. Managing Director of Sixième Son, the world’s largest audio branding agency with clients spread across the globe, ranging from Huggies to Michelin, and a co-author of Audio Branding: Using Sound to Build Your Brand.

References

1. Minsky, L & & Fahey, C. (2017). Audio Branding: Using Sound to Build Your Brand, Kogan Page, London

2. Minsky, L & & Fahey, C. (2017). Audio Branding: Using Sound to Build Your Brand, Kogan Page, London

3. Sixieme Son. (2017). (online) The Music that Moved Nadal to Tears. https://www.sixiemeson.com/en/news/nadal-roland-garros-sports-musical-anthem/ Accessed: April 16, 2018

4. Rosen, W & Minsky, L. (2017). The Activation Imperative: Hos to Build Brands & Business by Inspiring Action, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland 

5. Olson, C. (April 25, 2016). (Online). “Just say it: The future of search is voice and personal digital assistants.” Campaign, https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/just-say-it-future-search-voice-personal-digital-assistants/1392459 [Access April 16, 2018]

6. OC&C Strategy Consultants. (February 28, 2018). (Online) Voice Shopping Set to Jump to $40 Billion By 2022, Rising From $2 Billion Today”. PR Newswire, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/voice – shopping – set – to- jump-to-40-billion-by-2022-rising-from-2-billion-today-300605596.html [Accessed April 16, 2018]

 

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