Adding sound to your brand’s style
Sonic branding is the use of sound and music to create a “sound identity” for a brand. It can include a brand’s signature jingle, sound effects, and other audio elements used consistently across all brand touchpoints. Sonic Branding is another way brands are communicating their company personality and message. And, now more than ever, it’s playing a more distinctive role in brand strategies; a complement to visual identity.
Sound – which includes voice – has become an increasingly pervasive aspect of how we interact with brands. Whether we’re talking to voice controlled appliances or products, using a self-service menu, or listening to a podcast there’s a multitude of ways to engage that aren’t visual-only.
Brands – especially the larger and more iconic names – are capitalising on the knowledge that human brains process sound even faster than visual stimulus. And, even more importantly, that music and sound resonates on an emotional level. It can change how we feel, alter perception and even trigger recall, which are powerful tools for when it comes to building a memorable brand that people love.
Sonic Branding Examples We Already Know (and love)
The slogan “I’m lovin’ it”, accompanied by a super-catchy “ba da ba ba ba” vocal hook.
The distinctive, “Ta Dum!”, which plays when you enter the platform.
Intel’s sonic logo, “The Wave”, has been used by the company since 1995; which is interesting because longevity is a crucial success factor to sonic branding. Nine out of ten of the best-performing sonic identities have been in use for at least five years.
Branding and marketing agencies are increasingly offering sonic branding services/strategy… why?
Put simply: audio consumption is currently at the forefront of media engagement.
Podcasts, audio-books, streaming platforms, and TikTok are just a few examples of the multitude of audio interaction possibilities out there. And, because there is so much competition for our attention, and we’ve evolved to take in stimuli in a more scattered fashion across media formats, our experience of brands is changing too – we’re as likely to hear them as we are to see them. And, therefore, as likely to recall them through their sonic identity. Hence the rise of sonic branding services as part of a more holistic brand-building strategy.
The Influence of TikTok on Sonic Branding
TikTok has, and continues to, drive a wave of audio investment. A billion people use the app every month, which is more than Google and Facebook. It’s not to say that visual identity is entirely lost on TikTok because it is a multi-sensory platform, but sound is at its core.
Investment in sonic identity is paying dividends for brands who are thinking more holistically about brand experience. The rise of TikTok is cause for smaller brands and businesses to also consider sonic branding as part of their branding strategy.
Smart Homes Driving a Wave of Sonic Branding
By 2027, it’s anticipated that there’ll be 9.2 million active “Smart Homes” in Australia alone. This trend will continue to drive a rising wave of brand investment in brand-matched music, voice, and in-app sounds.
Is Sonic Branding for my Business?
Roscoe Williamson, Strategy Director at International Creative Music Agency, MassiveMusic, says: “It’s a battlefield out there in a very fragmented landscape and any tools the marketer has up their sleeve to help add cohesion and build salience should be used. However, despite all this, only about 20 percent of the world’s top 100 brands have any kind of definable sonic identity.”
While the above quote suggests that sonic branding is reserved for enterprise-level businesses only, it doesn’t need to be. Regardless of business size, sonic branding can be a powerful tool for the progressive and ambitious – really any brand looking to differentiate themselves from competitors and create a more emotionally impactful identity.
Whether you’re looking to create a sonic logo, select background music for commercials, or design soundscapes for in-store and online experiences, sonic branding must start with strategy. Just like brand voice and visual identity, sonic identity needs to be aligned with your brand’s core values and purpose to be successful and stand the test of time. Done well, there’s no question as to audio’s complementary nature to a more holistic and emotional brand strategy.