Sonic branding: Add a whole new dimension to your brand
The TUDUM sound when the N of Netflix appears, the Para-pa-pa-pa followed by “I’m Lovin’ It!” of McDonald’s, and the iconic default ringtone of the iPhone are some famous examples of sonic branding done right.
Sonic branding, also known as audio branding, refers to strategically using music and sound to add an extra dimension to your brand. It includes, but is not limited to, jingles, tones, spoken taglines, and voiceovers. This form of branding works together with other branding efforts to create a complete and lasting image of your brand in the minds of consumers. Most of our first exposure to sonic branding was through radio and television advertising. Commercials with catchy jingles and distinctive sounds greatly enrich the customer experience. Over time, the music and sounds become synonymous with the brands.
Why should you invest in sonic branding?
Sonic branding is often overlooked as an essential part of a brand’s identity. Many businesses and companies miss out on the opportunity to make a strong and everlasting impact on the audience by not utilizing the audio element. Despite its ability to distinguish a brand in a sea of its competitors, sonic branding is not even considered in the initial stages of developing a brand identity in most cases. Most people are more concerned with building a visual identity – brand logo, design elements, theme, and color palette. These are important aspects, of course, but when coupled with sounds and voices used in TV commercials, radio commercials, online video commercials, or podcasts, they can more effectively convey the brand message.
In an interview with Forbes, Michele Arnese, Founder and Global CEO of amp, shared some insights about how sonic branding can be implemented to fulfill brand objectives. He called sonic branding a powerful tool to create a powerful emotional connection with customers. Reusable sonics assets make a brand more recognizable, and the more original and authentic they are, the better. A major mistake made by many leading brands is using catchy songs by popular artists. This approach relates the brand to the existing culture but doesn’t influence it. Arnese also said that the budget of smaller businesses can create constraints in terms of quality and accessibility, but they must be just as strategic as larger businesses when it comes to sonic branding.
Enrich customer experience
The sound of the glass bottle cap opening, the fizzing of the drink, the ice hitting the side of a glass, and then the sound of the drink being sipped followed by a satisfied “Ahh” – all these give the audience a rich and tantalizing experience. This is done to build a soundscape that masterfully describes the brand or its product.
When the audio reinforces what is shown visually it amplifies the emotions of the story told by the brand. An atmosphere is created that allows the audience to fully immerse themselves in the story. Music is considered a key factor in evoking nostalgia through ads or films. It can take you on a journey. The level of nostalgia induced can vary from ad to ad, but the hint of familiarity can give rise to a desire for something that the brand is offering or is associated with.
The song “Desh, Desh, Desh, Banglalink Desh!” took Bangladesh by storm in 2007. It is one of the most popular and recognizable songs used in Bangladeshi advertisements. The upbeat and cheerful melody, along with catchy lyrics, made it easy for customers to remember it. The song was in tune with the colorful culture of Bangladesh and resonated with the brand’s target market – the youth.
Sonic branding is impactful when it is consistent with the brand identity and all other branding efforts. It must complement the brand. This consistency drives recognition. A study found that memorable events engender positive feelings and interest in purchasing a product or service among the customers.
Some brands confuse consistency with repetition. Jingles can be just as annoying as they are catchy. You may not enjoy them, but they can get stuck in your head for days, sometimes weeks. Most people have had an earworm at least once. This may generate bad buzz and cause irreparable damage to a brand’s reputation. On the contrary, many believe bad jingles can be just as effective. If the brand objective is to get into the customer’s head, even if they don’t find it pleasant, then the sonic branding efforts may be considered successful.
If you can already think of a few brands that you can recognize just by their auditory elements, then congratulations, you have understood what sonic branding is! And if you’re planning to invest in sonic branding for your brand, start taking notes on all the brands around you and how they are utilizing sound and music to add a new layer to their brand identity. Think about what emotion you want to evoke in your audience. Is your brand’s personality friendly, exciting, sincere, nostalgic, caring, sophisticated, or mysterious? Do you want your brand to sound electronic or does it require a human touch? Make sure to create an audio brand that carves out a place for itself in your customer’s memory, even if they are yet to make a purchase.
- Spectrio contributor. (Oct 7, 2021). 3 Examples of Audio Branding and How You Can Brand Your Business. Spectrio.
- Armstrong, P. (Jul 3, 2019). These Are The World’s Best Sonic Brands. Forbes.
- Chou, H. & Lien, N. (Feb 2014). Old Songs Never Idea: Advertising Effects of Evoking Nostalgia With Popular Songs. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising. 35:1, 29-49. DOI: 10.1080/10641734.2014.866845.
- Parker, S. (Sept 13, 2018). AGAR: Research Shows Memorability is the Top Driver of Experiential Marketing ROI.
- Epstein, V. M. (Sept 12, 2016). Why Bad Jingles Make Good Marketing. Contently.