The Premier League’s launch of an anthem [below] ahead of the 2020/21 season, which will be played at stadiums before kick-off, grabbed headlines in the sporting press.
There is no doubt that the anthem – including an orchestra and a live gospel choir - is a musical triumph, capturing the drama and emotion of Premier League matchday action. It is especially poignant given this season’s challenges coping with games played without the atmosphere created by fans. The vast, empty stands at London’s Wembley Stadium symbolise how the sport continues to be disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Matches will continue to take place ‘behind closed doors’ through September and in all likelihood, well into next year.
The Premier League’s decision to invest in its brand with a major audio asset could be an important decision.
At least fans will see and hear the action on TV and radio, with 45 games that were not due to be televised set to be shown live in the UK by the competition’s broadcast partners: Sky, BT, Amazon and the BBC. In this context the Premier League’s decision to invest in its brand with a major audio asset could be an important decision, reinforcing the context and the drama of the League for fans watching at home.
Above: The Premiere League's anthem, introduced at the start of this season.
But is there more that the Premier League could be doing with its new audio asset? The franchise has expanded to an omni-channel experience, so it calls for a sonic identity with an equally innovative direction and, most importantly, the flexibility to adapt to the needs of different content platforms.
With a holistic sonic approach, a brand is able to customise its assets to different touchpoints more easily.
Increasingly, brands that commission owned music and adaptable sonic assets are investing money in their long-term sonic identity that can work across social media, advertising, live events, in-stadium, in-store, experiential, digital content and digital retail. With a holistic sonic approach, a brand is able to customise its assets to different touchpoints more easily, while remaining recognisable no matter the context and drive efficiency in spend. In effect, this is the audio equivalent of what brands - whether they are entertainment, sports, retail or banking - do with visual brand assets.
Humans can hear faster than they can see, taste, smell or feel.
The Premier League is a brand focused on experience, and football itself is an emotive, nostalgic sport, and an important facet of sonic branding is the ability to trigger emotion. In fact, the fastest way to have an emotional impact on consumers is through sound. Humans can hear faster than they can see, taste, smell or feel. Once a sound wave reaches your ear, your brain can recognise it in just 0.05 seconds.
A sonic strategy revolving around a single asset, such as a walk-on anthem, has limitations when it comes to audibly diversifying a sports brands presence across all channels. A uniquely identifiable sonic asset is a great start, the question is, does it have the breadth and depth needed to reach consumers across all touchpoints?
Above: Mastercard's sonic branding.
This is where our proven Sonic DNA approach could be applied, potentially expanding the anthem to consistent, clearly recognisable sonic ingredients that can be leveraged to expand the sonic toolbox and create assets that can be used across different platforms and channels.
Take Mastercard, the top-ranking brand in amp's Best Audio Brands 2020 report. Its success lies in its complete embrace of a ‘comprehensive sound architecture’. Their sonic identity is woven in to all audio touchpoints, playing in everything from advertisements to point-of-sale transactions. The brand has actually developed a payment confirmation sound that reassures the card holder that a transaction was successful. To date, Mastercard has rolled out said sound to over 36 million digital wallets and physical payment terminals around the globe.
Mastercard is taking stock of today’s digital-first environment, revamping its branding and user experience in accordance with dynamic consumer behaviour.
Beyond that, Mastercard launched a multichannel marketing campaign built on strands of its sonic DNA. It included custom-owned tracks and soundscapes featured in an ambitious installation in restaurants across New York City, London and Japan. Mastercard is taking stock of today’s digital-first environment, revamping its branding and user experience in accordance with dynamic consumer behaviour. This is the future of sonic branding, and its benefits are vast.
Above: With no fans allowed in stadiums in the UK for some time to come, audio plays an even bigger part of armchair fans' experience.
Sonic branding, done right, can drive you to feel a certain way, it can change people’s moods, pace and make an impression on memory. It’s this personal reaction that further cements a brand’s importance in the viewers eyes. For example, our research found that syncopation, that is when a note anticipates a beat, creates surprise and excitement in the human brain. Consider the emotive experience fans experience in-stadium; the cheering crowds and the jeering chants are all part of building the atmosphere and creating a memorable experience. While this can be difficult to replicate at home, creating a holistic 360 strategy can go some way to adapting to this new space.
The Premier League is all about the new age of football, and the current climate certainly calls for a new way of approaching viewer and consumer engagement.
The Premier League is all about the new age of football, and the current climate certainly calls for a new way of approaching viewer and consumer engagement. A holistic sonic strategy, built around a Sonic DNA approach will allow for the desired match experience to be heard and felt everywhere. It has the potential to build superior pre-game hype, design engaging gameday experiences, and strengthen the connection between players and fans, not just on TV, but across other mobile and digital platforms.
Historically, the Premier League has not been averse to experimenting with sound, it will be interesting to see how this anthem evolves and if they will rise to the audible challenge. Otherwise, it’s a missed audio goal for the Premier League this season.