Building brand strength, sound wave by sound wave. Sonic branding: how it all started.
Sound is power. Something that can command, inspire, and evoke powerful emotional reactions in people. And in today’s fast-paced era of digital transformation, leading brands and agencies are using sound volume for marketing purposes.
But using sound to increase engagement and sell things is not a new concept. Senator Paul Nola returned 400AD church bells to the Christian church to attract the attention of worshipers and encourage them to pray. In the 1500s, ditties were introduced on the streets of London as shopkeepers sang songs to bring bowlers.
Fast forward to 1922, and elevator music became a thing that reassured anxious passengers who feared the futuristic steel cages of that time. Ten years later, in 1932, national medals were played for gold medalists for the first time at the Los Angeles Olympics medal ceremonies, using sound power to celebrate athletes and respect nationalities.
He jumped another half a decade, in 1984, and now the infamous Michael Jackson performed his iconic lunar walk in the middle of Pepsi’s TV commercial “New Generation.” The campaign was so successful that thousands of listeners invited radio stations to apply for the “Pepsi Song”. Create a adaptation of Billie Jean for Pepsi with the words “you are the generation of Pepsi who mumbles and tastes the excitement of the day”, the advertisement made itself wild for both the song and the advertised drink. And people still think of Pepsi as “a drink for a whole new generation.”
Since the 1980s, sounds such as advertising traps, announcements from stations, airports or supermarkets, TV network drills and buzzing, even straining the dishwasher at the end of the cycle, have become our familiar, constant companions. Sonic’s brands are ubiquitous, fully rooted in consumer culture and consciousness. And often we hear it and even suck it.
Using sound strategically and at different points of contact
The Sonic brand has a place in history, it surrounds us today and will probably dive even tomorrow. But on a more practical level, what exactly is it? How is it used? What is it most useful for? Sonic branding is a holistic or integrated approach to the use of brand sound and music at several different points of contact. And these touchpoints can be everything from a website to a chat robot, a ringtone, a pending song, a sound logo, or a beep.
The relationship between sound and reaction
The Sonic brand is also linked to the relationship between sound and the consumer, or more specifically the consumer’s brain. First, it is important to understand that sound does not occur in a vacuum. It’s reciprocal. In the event of a giant explosion where humans would not have heard it, science would not strictly classify it as sound because it is not received by the eardrum. But when the eardrum receives it and transmits that sound to the brain, the human brain interacts with that sound and associates it with an intuitive response.
The sound is play with each other between that productive thing and what hears and responds to it, and that lies the power of sound branding. Listen, feel. Feel, buy. This is a simple equation. However, many brands have not yet fully exploited the power of sound.
Different sounds, different answers
As we have already seen, a sound mark can be adapted to different media and divided into different elements, while different sounds or instruments can evoke different emotions in people. Other examples of sound brands include navigation sounds, voice assistance technology, soundscapes (used to communicate with the brand in physical space) and actual voice transmissions (an exceptional example of David Attenborough being the BBC’s beloved voice).
Some brands create long-form sound expressions, a whole brand anthem that can be adapted for use at any touch point – for a logo or website, for advertising purposes, for retail experiences or for trade fairs, for example. Other brands use a micro-sound approach, creating many different clear sounds that are applied throughout the brand’s infrastructure, but still work together to create a more cohesive whole.
Sonic branding becomes even richer as a concept, as different instruments are used to create different feelings. String instruments create a feeling of warmth and security, for example, horns can create courage, drums can bring out something primitive, while the human voice can make us feel understood and calmed.
The notes themselves read. The melodies on the main keys are thought to make us happier than the minor keys, while harmonious progression can also affect how music feels to us.
That’s why there are now whole audio brand agencies to help brands turn their audio ambitions into a targeted, integrated approach. Sonic design is not just designing a single sound or even a whole sound. This includes exploring how different roles play together. And the use of sound not only evokes isolated reactions, but also creates a continuous story.
As regards the benchmarks for sound marks, it is worth mentioning some marks. It’s hard to ignore McDonald’s sound, for example, whose “I love it” sounds across time zones and continents. Disney is also worth mentioning for the immense breadth and depth of its sound ecosystem, creating complete sound identities for every movie made. But it’s Apple and Amazon that are busy driving the future of audio brands, shaping our lives with the support of artificial intelligence, voice-assisted technology, and easier access to information than ever before.
Smaller brands can learn a lot from these sonic branding hottos by changing the way we perceive, react and communicate, and using sound to change the world as we know it.
Just as sound, as we have seen, affects consumers deeply and instantly, creating feelings and actions, be it a child rushing ice cream van jingle or Mastercard releasing a music disc to change the way customers change. perceive your business. And that makes sound an exceptional marketing tool.
Sound can create a deep connection between a consumer and a brand that has the ability to last a lifetime. And in this fast-paced world of ours, now is the time for every big brand and small to use sound to delight the eardrum, engage thoughts and build loyalty.