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Dig In Episode 32 | Adam Faulkner @ CreativeAF on The Power of Sonic Branding, Jingle Comebacks & Entrepreneurship

In this week’s episode of Dig In, we chat with Adam Faulkner at CreativeAF on the power of sonic branding, jingle comebacks, and entrepreneurship.

Adam Faulkner is a pretty interesting guy; whether it’s his background as a creative at agencies, his bike trip from London to Tokyo, or the seemingly endless catalogue of music references he can speak to at the drop of a hat.

This week, we brought him onto Dig In to talk about his company, CreativeAF, and the power of sonic branding. CreativeAF builds music videos for brands of all shapes and sizes, like Amnesty International and Sipsmith’s Gin. On this episode, he chats to Meagan about:

  • Why sound so important to him

  • How CreativeAF handles sound different than other production companies

  • Why sonic branding is a bit of an afterthought, and why it shouldn’t be anymore

  • How to structure the campaign development process in a way that prioritizes sound and music

  • Which brands are doing a great job with sonic branding (and why)

A Few Highlights From the Episode:

Meagan: We've talked about how within other branding agencies processes, sound can be an afterthought when they're coming up with a campaign and you kind of worked in that space and talked to people. I guess as someone who doesn't create video content and doesn't work on the agency side and come up with these campaigns creatively, how do you change the process of developing a campaign to prioritize sound within those?

Adam: So one of the things I like to do at the start of the development process with a new client or new brand, is to get a feel for both the visual and the audio. Now, when you speak to that brand. It's very, very clear on what it looks like, they’re very clear. These are the colors, these are our brand attributes and this is our brand identity. And they've already got these images that they had taken by someone, whether it be the food and drink brand or a lifestyle brand, whatever it is, they've got it in abundance for you to look, like a whole guide like pages and pages of it.

But then I'll say, “I know what it looks like, but I'll ask you, what does it sound like?” And they're not really sure what to say because they've never been asked that before. So it's not a question. Brands are used to being asked, so it makes them think about their own brand in a different way because they've never had to answer that question before. And it's a fun process that means we get to talk creatively about the sound of that brand.

What mood does the brand convey? If you could get an artist to play, make you a song, who would it be? That's a good question that I ask people. So we can kind of work out what it does sound like and what it definitely doesn't sound like. And then you kind of end up refining this process where you kind of drum it down into this kind of clearer revision.

And I think with the visual, they give you so many cues that it's very difficult to get that wrong. I'm not trying to say that there isn't any creative emphasis on the visual side from us. Of course there is, but you've got so much to go on already. But then you bring in all the sound sound as well and you’re creating this more rounded piece, which they know is going to look right because you've already given you, they've given you that information, but then you add in the sound as well and the music and they just they're going on this different journey.

I have to reference one of our long standing clients here, Sipsmith is a gin brand from London. And , it's done very, very well recently and it's a very classy brand and it's got its own identity, it's got a swan as its brand ambassador. They do incredibly good television ads with animation and all that stuff. So over the last 18 months, we've probably written, I'd say, between 15 and 20 different pieces of music to go with all the content we've made for them.

We know their sound because you worked out from the beginning. It's like old world jazz with some gypsy swing. And I mean, if people are listening, they'll go, “Ok, what does that sound like?”. Well, you'd have to watch all the videos. It's fun because you have to delve into this kind of process and customer experience. It offers a different way of doing it.And I think I love doing both because I like putting the best of the two things together.

I mean, recently, I think I mentioned Amnesty International, a charity, earlier, but we just did a project with them as a branded video campaign and we needed a soundtrack that worked for them. And we had a consultation process and then created a playlist. We often do that as well during the sound branding process, after the consultation and the questions. You put together this playlist. It’s bespoke because it is based on this consultation process. People like listening to music that they think represents their brand. And then we went away and made this track and the video obviously to go with it. And they loved it. And you left with a bespoke piece of content, both for the eyes and the ears.

I love the process. If you are just someone who just creates things, I love the process. Forget it is a business. I just love doing that. I mean, it's like a way to spend my time because it's just like, you feel like you’re soundtracking your own films, which I love. But this is not a film and it's not a drama, and it's not a TV program, it's advertising. And that's what I want. I want it to be and what it is and what future projects are going to be.

And I think because it's quite unique in what we're doing. As I said, I'm not reinventing the wheel. I've got these skills, and I think it's quite a powerful, emotive thing. And as I said, there's so many different brands to work with out there in so many different sectors and industries, and I'd love the opportunity to try anything in that space because they're all a bit different.

Find the rest of the episode here.

If you want to connect with Adam to talk about music or his company, feel free to reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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