- Kia has partnered with audio production company DaHouse to develop a synthesizer and then leveraged it to create a sound logo, sounds for inside new Kia vehicles and four-track album made by metaverse artist Wave, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- Sounds from nature such as rain falling and beach waves, or "pink noise," were used to create the synthesizer, which is downloadable by anyone to use in their own creative work. The brand worked with Innocean Berlin on the effort.
- As podcasting becomes a bigger part of marketers' strategies, Kia is also releasing a podcast with SoundCloud documenting how it developed the synthesizer. Additionally, the SoundCloud partnership includes featuring music from emerging artists created with the instrument and a contest whose prizes include an opportunity to be featured in a global ad campaign.
Kia’s new synthesizer is indicative of a broader push towards digital audio by marketers. Currently, approximately 86 million Americans listen to podcasts, and that number continues to climb. More brands are also seeing a need for a unique audio signature in order to cut through the clutter and leave a lasting impression.
The decision to pull sounds from nature may be indicative of the brand’s attempt to reach out to outdoor enthusiasts, with the company claiming the sounds produced by its synthesizer inspire movement, inspiration and creativity. The Korean car manufacturer has long tried to position its SUV range as capable outdoor vehicles in an attempt to compete with Subaru. The Kia Seltos is intended to directly compete with the Subaru Crosstrek, a favorite among outdoorsy young people.
In addition to being used in audio advertising, the synthesizer can be heard inside the manufacturer's new 2022 vehicles. A four-track album created by the metaverse-exclusive artist Wave was also produced using only the synthesizer.
"Pink noise echoes with the frequencies of nature and it’s one of the most powerful sounds that we know," said Katherine Templar Lewis, creative neuroscientist, in a statement. "Science has proved how our brains are evolved to respond to these frequencies positively."
Other brands that have integrated audio signatures include Tostitos and Mastercard. While the use of audio signatures has grown, some have been around for decades, such as McDonald's “ba da ba ba ba.”
Kia has made attempts to integrate itself into popular culture, especially through the metaverse. In the lead up to the Super Bowl, Kia released 10,000 dog NFT’s in honor of its commercial for the all-electric EV6.
Kia has not penetrated American culture in the way Subaru has, and an audio signature could help raise brand awareness and affinity as both brands compete for attention from similar target audiences.