Home audio Sperry Strives To Make A Data-Driven Splash With Sound

Sperry Strives To Make A Data-Driven Splash With Sound

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Close your eyes and picture yourself by the water. The light bouncing off the waves as they break onshore, the foam lapping the sand, the breeze stirring your hair.

Chances are that if you’re like many consumers, when it comes to picturing a day at the beach, sound plays a pivotal role in your fantasies and fond recollections.

Recognizing the power of sound, boat shoe and accessories brand Sperry has started thinking “about integrating sound into everything that we do,” said James Mackenzie, Sperry’s global brand director.

Strike a chord

In early March, Sperry released its first sonic logo, which is composed of layered sounds, including waves that crescendo to a dramatic musical note.

Sperry’s sonic logo

Leading up to the logo’s debut, the brand worked with audio research and analytics platform Veritonic, which tests and measures the efficacy of audio assets, to perform creative testing on six possible sonic logo variations before settling on its final choice.

Although Sperry used internal polling, testing and consumer focus groups to help whittle down the options, it turned to Veritonic because it wanted to make a data-driven decision about which sonic logo would perform best in market and build brand affinity.

Sperry needed the ability to test multiple versions at once against the overall audio market, Mackenzie said.

“It’s been so helpful for us to have the data and to look at how [the sonic logo] is resonating with consumers,” he added.

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A shortened form of the sonic logo is a component of Sperry’s spring 2023 media campaign, including in its 15-second “Always New” and “Rediscover a Classic” ad spots. The full version of the logo may later feature in other formats, such as long-form content or both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retail settings.

Six variations on a theme by Sperry

Once Sperry took the plunge and decided to create a sonic logo, it looked at different nature sounds, music and even mechanical sounds like boats, ferries and foghorns. It also collaborated with composer Peter Murray, who previously worked on music and sound design for Sperry’s Make Waves campaign in early 2022, to craft six variations.

Sperry then sent the variations to Veritonic.

“The goal of Veritonic is to quantify human response to sound,” said Founder and CEO Scott Simonelli. Veritonic measures audio assets’ real-time emotional response, recall, engagement and purchase intent against its AI-powered predictive scoring system and custom lookalike audience panel.

Veritonic scored Sperry’s sonic logo variations against seven attributes: authenticity, energy, familiarity, happiness, power, relaxation and uniqueness. The Veritonic team also broke down consumer response by gender, age and landlocked versus waterside states.

The work Sperry did with Veritonic validated certain hypotheses the team had.

For instance, Sperry’s sound is relatable for people who enjoy the experience of many types of water, not just the ocean. Consumers also said that the sonic logo “overwhelmingly made them think of travel,” Mackenzie said, which confirms Sperry’s hunch that its brand “might help put the listener into a vacation mindset.”

But the results of testing also challenged some of the Sperry team’s assumptions.

The six sonic logo variations consisted of different levels of nature sounds, musical notes and people sounds. The team expected that, of the three elements, sounds of people would be the second most popular option, but Veritonic’s testing revealed that including people wasn’t as important.

Good vibrations

The sonic logo is part of Sperry’s broader exploration of how it can expand what Mackenzie called its “sensory elements.”

Sperry did a visual brand refresh in 2022 and continues to update the brand, founded in 1935, while “staying true to its history and heritage,” he said.

A global study of dozens of consumers across 19 countries in 2021 found that “people’s connection with water was very emotional and bordered on spiritual,” Mackenzie said. “We got back all these words: relaxed, reconnected, reengaged, reawakened. We were doing a disservice only expressing that visually.”

The case for implementing audio also came from within Sperry. During Sperry’s visual brand refresh, longtime employees participating in one of its initial focus groups talked about how sometimes you hear the water before you even see it.

“It was people who have worked with the brand for 10, 20, 30 years,” Mackenzie said. “We were like, now is the time, especially as we’re refreshing the brand.”

All in on audio

Sperry will continue to tune its sonic logo depending on the media format and content, Mackenzie said. For long-form content that already contains music, for example, Sperry might remove the musical note and just use the natural sounds.

Through the process of optimizing its sound, Sperry can use it different ways in different places, Simonelli said.

“You might treat it differently in one campaign versus another,” he said.

Over the next year or two, the Sperry team will gauge the sonic logo’s success by comparing consumer sentiment and creative performance against the baseline of its “Make Waves” campaign, which ran last year.

Beyond the sonic logo, Sperry is intent on establishing an audio brand and determining where audio fits into the site experience, as well as the role audio plays as it redesigns stores.

To date, Sperry’s inclination is toward “modern interpretations of jazz,” Mackenzie said, but they haven’t tested it yet. Veritonic could tell them that’s off the mark.

But now that Sperry has the start of its own sound, it’s time to use it.

“We have to put it out into the market to make it audible and recognizable as Sperry,” Mackenzie said. “Static was just static until HBO owned and made it a part of their signature for their highest-quality programming.”

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