YOU’RE ALREADY USING AUDIO, SO WHY NOT USE IT MORE EFFECTIVELY?
Sonic branding is a great and effective way of cutting through the noise. People recognize and process sound much faster than visuals—from 10 to 100 times faster, in fact. So if you’re creating videos or digital ads, it’s the sound that’s making the first impression, not the carefully-chosen color palette. It’s critical that you weigh the importance of sound as much as you weigh the importance of visuals. The team at Big Ears Audio work closely with you to define what your brand sounds like.
Audio Creates an Emotional Connection
Sound has the unique ability to meet a person at an emotional level. If you’re trying to create an emotional connection and you are not strategic with your sonic choices, you’re missing out on an entire sense in the human experience. Why wouldn’t you explore this further?
When creating your brand identity , you have the opportunity to decide what kind of emotional reaction you want to create. Take a look at your goals and figure out how emotion can help you achieve them. Do you want your audience to feel a sense of companionship? What about a feeling of being powerful? Sound is a wonderful tool for fostering that emotional relationship with your customers.
What is Sonic Branding?
Sonic branding is the use of music, sound, or voice (or any combination of them) to reinforce or highlight a brand’s identity. This sound is something that people immediately and unmistakably associate with a brand upon hearing it. This type of branding has the same end-goals as visual branding: stimulate an emotional response or attachment and evoke instant recognition.
A most obvious and successful example of sonic branding is Netflix’s sonic logo: the ta-dum sound, or two 16th note timpani strikes on D2 and D3. It is the sound you hear before you watch anything on the streaming service. It is simplistic and two beats long only, but it is indubitably Netflix’s, and recognized by every subscriber. More importantly, it has become one of the world’s most iconic sounds.
Sonic branding may serve as a substitute for visual cues, but the influence of voice on emotions and memory is nonetheless perceptible.
The Use of Sonic Branding A.K.A Audio Branding or Sound Branding
Music composition in advertising is used to affect the perception of the consumers that the company is trying to target. Audio branding communicates with your audience by multiple means and at many levels. Your sonic signature will identify your brand and help build customer loyalty. It also evokes emotion in the listener. The right sound or jingle influences their attitude and feelings about your brand, product, or service. That emotional response is what drives sales and makes audio branding a critical part of your marketing and advertising strategies. It’s all about creating the brand experience
The Role of Sonic Branding
Advertisements are thoughtfully ideated and crafted, incorporating the latest in digital and print design, animation, typography, special effects, and more. However, a lot of these efforts are lost on audiences. Modern consumers are constantly bombarded with brand messages, so they don’t have time or attention to spare for content that doesn’t interest them. In fact, a recent study revealed that 86% of people experience visual “banner blindness.” If you want to reach audiences, you’ll have to stimulate a different sense: sound. A sonic brand will do just that.
Sonic branding, audio branding, or audio brand identity isn’t new. Over the past few years, we have seen several notable brands investing in their sonic identity; with Mastercard, Formula 1, Aldi, and Volkswagen amongst just some of the brands who have embarked upon the use of the sonic brand.
Sonic branding must be meticulously crafted to represent a brand just as clearly as their visual counterparts. They work because they’re designed to help customers form implicit associations with a company in their minds.
Sonic branding leads to your brand getting greater recall.
The Benefits of Sonic Branding
1. Greater attention for your brand
Sonic branding helps to capture the attention of your audience and build brand recognition.
In an environment plagued by information overload, attention is perhaps your brand’s scarcest asset. Adding a sound to your brand identity can help you to get the focus you need. Additionally, sound can penetrate your customer’s subconscious even when they’re not really listening. While a visual logo requires someone to pay attention, a sonic logo flows through the mind regardless of where their focus might be.
2. Stronger loyalty
Sound triggers emotional responses far better than visuals.
If you’ve ever tried watching a horror movie with the sound on mute, you’ll find that you don’t get scared anywhere near as often. On the other hand, just listening to a spooky sound can be enough to set your skin on edge. With sound, you can use emotion to tap into the loyalty and commitment of your target audience. You just need the right sonic logo.
3. Better brand recall
You don’t just want your customers to know your company; you want them to remember it too.
According to clinical studies, listening to sound or a piece of music can initiate the memory section of your customer’s brain, leading to better brand recall.
4. Conveying purpose and value
Because sonic branding resonates with your customers on a more emotional level, it can be a great way to convey your values and brand purpose.
Music is emotive, and it has a way of communicating complex ideas in a way that’s easier for your clients to understand. The right sonic logo or audio identity can express what you stand for as a company.
How Do I Create a Sonic Brand for My Product or Company?
There are a number of different techniques that can be used in sonic branding. Some of the most common include sound design, music composition, and sound effects. Each of these elements can be used to create a unique sonic identity for your product. Sound design is the process of creating specific sounds to represent your product. By creating a unique sound for your product, you can make it instantly recognisable to consumers.
Music composition is another common element of sonic branding. This involves creating a piece of music that represents your product. By using music to represent your product, you can create an emotional connection with consumers.
Sound effects are another way to create a unique sound identity for your product. Sound effects can be used to highlight the features of your product or to create an atmosphere of excitement. By using sound effects, you can make your product more appealing to consumers.
Tips for Developing Your Sonic Brand Identity
When starting on your own sonic identity, a good number to keep in mind is 0.146 seconds. That’s because it only takes 146 milliseconds for the human ear to hear and respond to an audio cue. Which means that the sounds in your videos, radio commercials, podcasts, etc. are quite capable of immediate impact.
Developing your own sonic logos and overall audio brand identity really comes down to 1) understanding your own brand and goals and 2) learning how to use the right audio tones and tools to convey your brand’s emotions quickly and accurately.
Here are some basic tips to follow:
- Work off your current logos and color aesthetics: Just as certain colors evoke specific emotions, certain sounds work the same way. So draw from your current colors and brand aesthetics as a base for forming your own sonic branding.
- Keep it short and simple (and memorable): As you can hear in many of the examples above, the best sonic logo jingles are short, quick, and to the point.
- Use pleasant tones and harmony: The best sonic brands are the ones that make customers feel happy. That’s in part because they’re using elements like major chords and harmonies as part of their musical theory arrangements.
- Say something about your brand in your audio: The best sonic brands are the ones that are subtly telling you something about their brand.
- At the end of the day, your sonic brand really should be a holistic part of your complete brand identity and brand experience .
Sonic Branding Examples
Sonic Brands also known as audio logos become most effective through repetition. And Netflix’s distinctive intro, which plays before you start watching any show on its platform, is certainly getting a huge amount of that right now.
The audio logo for the streaming service, which is now available in over 190 countries, is comprised of “two 16th note timpani strikes on D2 and D3, simultaneously which with are played three dotted half notes on D2, D4, and D5”, according to its official trademark document. Or, in layman’s terms: it kind of goes ‘Ta-dum’.
While historically Apple has been the hipper choice for creatives, Windows scored quite a coup with its Windows 95 release, by getting art pop icon Brian Eno to compose its startup sound.
While Eno played in Roxy Music and has worked with everyone from Bowie and David Byrne to Coldplay and Damon Albarn, his Windows chime is almost certainly the most widely listened-to piece of music in his entire career. And a quick re-listen now instantly reminds you what a powerful, otherworldly piece of audio it is.
It was Microsoft designers Mark Malamud and Erik Gavriluk who originally got Eno involved. As the musician recalled in an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle they wanted “a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah-blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional, this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said: ‘and it must be 3 1⁄4 seconds long.’ I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It’s like making a tiny little jewel.”
Love it or loathe it, McDonald’s certainly knows branding. So it’s perhaps surprising that the corporation, first launched as a franchise operation in 1955, waited almost half a century before it launched its first global marketing campaign, in 2003.
The wait, though, was worth it. The slogan ‘I’m lovin’ it’, accompanied by a super-catchy “ba da ba ba ba” vocal hook, was universally popular and instantly recognisable. So much so, that there’s been a great deal of controversy within the pop and hip-hop communities about who actually wrote it.
The secret to this audio logo is that it’s ultra-flexible, and easily adapted to local markets, languages and cultures everywhere, as well as specific campaigns and different musical styles.
Partly because of this, it still seems fresh and relevant today, 16 years on, as it did.
Created by Austrian musician Walter Werzowa in the 1980s, Intel’s three-second audio logo has become one of the most well-known in history. A simple five-note mnemonic, it’s estimated to be played somewhere in the world every five minutes.
Werzowa was originally hired by Kyle Cooper, a friend employed at R/GA LA and told the sound needed to convey reliability, innovation and trust. He spent 10 days composing the jingle, and finally had a breakthrough when he started singing the words ‘Intel Inside’.
It works partly because it’s a very catchy sequence of notes, but also because of the sound of those notes. The original recording used a combination of different synthesisers, xylophones, and marimba. And while it may sound simple, it’s actually made up of 20 different audio layers.