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Want to Reach Millennials? The Best Way May Be Through Their Ears.

Millennial Girl

For many brands, millennials are the holy grail. More than 80 million strong in the United States—a quarter of the country’s population—they are expected to spend a whopping $1.4 trillion this year (according to the consulting firm Accenture). Reaching these young people is a priority for most marketing campaigns, but to do so effectively, brands need to understand millennials’ buying patterns, lifestyle choices, entertainment preferences and ethics, and how they differ from their baby boomer parents.

Millennials are smart, discriminating consumers. They evaluate brand messaging with a critical eye. They’re drawn to valuable, authentic content and put off by hard sell. They align their commercial behavior with their social and ethical values. Having grown up in the Digital Age, they are accustomed to accessing information across multiple platforms and devices. They use modern tools—blogs, online reviews, social platforms and influencers—to evaluate products and services. They also want the process to be easy. No impediments. If the website is hard to navigate, if the product is complicated, if the app doesn’t work, it’s gone.

On the other hand, millennials aren’t so different from earlier generations in that they connect through their emotions. As one of our clients is fond of saying, the four most powerful words in the English language are “Tell me a story.” That’s been true across time and remains true today. If you have a compelling story to tell, millennials will listen…They just won’t listen for long. One of the consequences of our multiplatform, instant access, highly-connected world is shorter attention spans. Today, marketers have two or three seconds to gain the attention of millennial consumers. If it doesn’t happen by then, they move on. Millennials graze. They play Angry Birds while watching Star Wars and texting with friends.

Savvy brands understand this and are finding new ways to connect with young consumers. Many are using sonic branding to reach millennials in a way that is quick, memorable and emotionally-resonant. Millennials may have their eyes on their phones, but they still hear the sound coming from other devices and technologies. Sonic branding punches through. It is an incredibly powerful tool for generating awareness, stirring emotion and making a lasting impression. In today’s increasingly crowded visual space, successful marketers are learning that the way to a millennial’s heart is through her ears.

Featured Millennial Project

Gearbox Software is a large game developer, whose products include the Borderland series, and, of course, the biggest demographic for gaming are millennials. We were tasked with creating a brand mnemonic (an audio logo) that would be part of every Gearbox game, and a “snipe” a similar branding device with audio and video components, for use in ads, teasers, social posts and other marketing media.

As Gearbox is located in Dallas, we wanted to include a nod to Texas, so we incorporated a dobro and a Southern rock guitar that plays a big chord at the end, along with game-flavored sound design. It was also important to integrate the Gearbox name and we came up with an inventive way to do so. After trying all sorts of characters, people and filters, we chose to go with a 5-year-old who did his best to sound like a monster while saying, “Gearbox.” That, combined with the sound design and the big guitar chord, nailed the company’s personality and brand story. It was used for the first time with the release of Borderlands 3. The sales numbers are huge.

Leave a comment:

  1. James Taylor says:

    Extremely smart concept here and a hilarious idea to use the 5-year-old voice. Well done.