Musical brand

Building a B2B brand through a sound identity

When you’re a business that’s all about phone conversations, having a sound identity is a no-brainer. But after achieving significant growth globally, the Aircall co-founder knew it was time to up the ante on the company’s eight-year-old audio approach.

Aircall provides cloud-based phone systems and contact center solutions. Founded in 2014, the company has raised over $226 million in funding along the way and now exceeds $100 million in annual recurring revenue. It was its growth that led the company to carve out a place in Deloitte’s Fast 500 for technological innovation and achieve a market valuation of over $1 billion.

Aircall CEO and co-founder Olivier Pailhes said CMO the company was aware of the need for a sound identity from the start. Coming from a family of musicians, he raised his hand and developed one in-house.

“Eight years later, the company has changed a lot and is growing very quickly. Today we have 800 employees spread across five continents,” he said. “We recently overhauled our visual identity, and in the process, decided to differentiate ourselves. My team and our agency, Sixieme Son, highlighted how strategic and powerful music can be for brand awareness and recall, which convinced me to update our sound identity.

“Together, we have created a unique sound that brings consistency to every touchpoint and helps audiences easily identify Aircall around the world. This new sound identity is designed to create cohesion, engage our employees, customers and prospects in a strong project, and strengthen our leadership.

Aircall’s mission was to achieve a sound identity that showcased its technical solutions, as well as energy, creativity and people. The creative process involved employees traveling from their New York and Paris offices to record clapping and finger snapping at Sixieme Son’s studios, providing the underlying element for the larger sound concept.

For Pailhes, the sound identity of Aircall is a mix between an easily memorable melody – inspired by the musical tastes of their music-loving founders – and luminous electro textures. He described it as halfway between UX design and music.

“Our profession is not necessarily the sexiest at the start, but we are disruptors in our sector and we break the codes”, he explained. “Our sound identity reflects this philosophy. We are also obsessed with the customer, so this sound identity also aims to provide them – and their own customers – with a complete and high-quality brand experience at every stage of the relationship. Finally, it’s a way to engage our workforce and show them that we strive to be at the forefront of all aspects of our business.

While it’s clear that a sound identity is a solid way to reflect Aircall’s business model, Pailhes believes that having distinctive audio assets is also essential given the meaning of sound.

“The strategic use of sound can play an equally vital role in positively differentiating a product or service, improving recall, creating preference, building trust and perhaps most importantly, increasing sales ROI and marketing,” he commented. “Investing in visual branding alone is like competing with a hand tied behind your back, weakening your efforts. Cognitive studies show that relevant sounds and musical cues can really have a powerful impact on brand perception and preference.

“The ability of a sound to trigger a reaction is essential to creating an emotional connection with the brand: Sonic branding makes it possible to stand out in a competitive market. It gives a brand a stronger and more unique personality, helping to capture the interest of the public. There must be an element of surprise that helps differentiate from the competition.

For Pailhes, the most surprising part of the work was the ease with which the collaboration took place with the musicians of Sixieme Son.

“My team and I thought a lot about the subject and I also had ideas in terms of symphonic directions. Sixieme Son quickly understood and integrated these contributions. It was fascinating,” he said.

Aircall’s new sound identity will span all customer touchpoints, from music on hold to ringtones, digital platforms, webinars and events. It also integrates the sound elements into the product itself.

“It was an international rollout, as Aircall knows no borders, and we used social media primarily for this launch,” Pailhes said.

An easy way to gauge the success of a sound strategy for Pailhes is how employees embrace it. So far there has been a lot of positive feedback internally, he said.

“But measuring the long-term success of a sound identity takes time. Studies published by Toluna – Harris Interactive and Sixieme Son show that most sound identities take at least two years to happen, and whether people like it or not is not necessarily a success factor,” he continued. “Therefore, we will have to wait before conducting more in-depth analyses.”

For his part, Sixieme Son MD, Laurent Cochini, said Aircall’s sonic strategy build was exemplary in many ways.

“It was very inspiring to work for companies that are growing, rapidly changing and innovating in sound, especially when led by a music enthusiast,” he said. “Aircall’s ability to handle audio as a powerful tool sends a strong signal to the market and further amplifies the brand’s leadership status.”

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