Audio Branding For the Blind

Audio Branding For the Blind
Tim Hogan
Audio Branding For the Blind

If you aren’t thinking about your audio brand, you may be missing a great opportunity to make your brand more memorable and meaningful.

My last blog was about the recent resurgence and growing importance of audio branding. If you missed it, check it out here. In the blog, I mentioned an audio branding initiative we recently completed for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI).

Audio branding for an organization that serves the blind. Sounds like a no brainer, right? But they had never done it before. And the time was right, as the agency prepared to introduce a new logo and visual identity.

First a little history on the CABVI and its brand.

The organization is a private, not-for-profit agency offering a broad range of vision rehabilitation services for people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired. It began in 1911 as the Cincinnati Association for the Welfare of the Blind.

The name has changed several times through the decades. In 2004, it became Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. But the name was found to be long and it created branding challenges. So in 2019, the board agreed to abbreviate to the acronym CABVI.

This latest change to the visual brand identity presented a perfect opportunity to introduce an audio brand element that would be linked to the new logo and make it more memorable. So we set out to create an audio mnemonic that will act as a musical memory peg with an emotional connection to the CABVI brand.

We worked with a composer to explore several options. Each consisted of five notes to represent the five characters in the acronym. But we weren’t just looking for a catchy hook. It needed to support CABVI’s brand character and core values. The creative process was driven by inspiration from words in their vision: “Empowering people who are blind or visually impaired with opportunities to seek independence.” Along with their values of compassion, hope, integrity and collaboration. As well as the sense of optimism captured in the new tagline “Building Brighter Futures for People with Vision Loss.”

Early in the process, we determined the brand would benefit greatly by including a vocal representation in the audio mnemonic. It’s especially helpful for those with vision loss to hear a verbalization of the agency name. We chose a chorus of male and female singers to sing the CABVI melody to symbolize inclusivity, collaboration and compassion. Verbalization of the logo aids memorability and brand association, while the instrumental elements provide an emotional connection.

While we experimented with a variety of different orchestrations, the final mnemonic features a solo piano to communicate simplicity, clarity and focus. A strong chord progression leads with a pair of eighth notes for a burst of energy. From there, the shape moves down and then ends with a surprising leap up to deliver a feeling of optimism and hope for a brighter future. The final note is accented with a glockenspiel, adding a touch of brightness which ties into the yellow dot on the “i” in the CABVI logo.

We provided the audio element fully mixed, instrumental only, and a capella vocal for different applications

This new audio brand was launched along with the new visual logo and is currently being used at the end of TV and radio advertising, as well as internal and external videos. There are plans to incorporate it on their website and “on-hold” phone service, too. And we continue to explore more ways to connect the visual and audio brand elements.

Over time, CABVI’s audio brand will become as much a part of their brand identity as the visual logo. They will become linked in the public’s mind, strengthening the emotional bond between CABVI, its clients and donors. It’s too soon to measure success, but the early reviews have been strong. And the value of the audio brand will only continue to grow through repetition and familiarity.

Play the :05 video clip below to hear the CABVI brand mnemonic paired with new logo animation.