No, we’re not talking about an animated blue hedgehog (well, not a lot).
Sonic branding is all about how your brand sounds… and how you can use audio to reinforce your brand identity.
Audio is everywhere these days… websites, social media, video, podcasts, even your white goods ping at you! It’s more accessible and easier to ‘do’ than ever before, so it’s not just for the ‘big boys’; anyone can – and should – be thinking about sonic branding. And it’s a relatively untapped medium too, meaning audio holds a significant amount of power and potential for small and medium sized businesses, as well as corporates.
Since we’ve mentioned Sonic the Hedgehog, let’s use him as an example. Because, for his target audience, the sounds associated with collecting rings in the game are instantly recognisable, prompting immediate recall and a desire to play… which is what sonic branding is all about!
Think Intel… That chime has done so much to embed Intel in the minds of consumers. Before that, did anyone ever ask for a specific brand of computer chip? We think not! Well, only those in the know, anyway.
First introduced in 1994, this catchy tune was actually ranked the second most addictive sound in the world at the height of its use! And by some estimates, the Intel sound logo is still played once every five minutes somewhere in the world.
You can remind yourself of the sound here.
So, what makes using sound in marketing so successful?
Well, according to studies, our ultimate decisions are made in the non-rational part of the brain (the limbic system, for our science-y peeps). And coincidentally, this is also the part of the brain which is stimulated by sound… which makes sonic branding particularly compelling and engaging. It gets in your head and stays there!
1. Creates brand consistency
Ensuring your brand is consistent is one of the most important things you can do to help your business thrive. Everything from the colour palette to how the logo is used needs consideration, and sound is no different. All of your visuals tell a story about your brand, and any audio you use needs to reflect that, too.
It’s really important because nearly half of consumers believe that sound used by a brand helps them better understand its personality.**
2. Enhances brand recognition and recall
There’s a strong cognitive connection between what we hear and our memory; you want to be the brand that customers think of first, so really paying attention to your sonic identity will help. In fact, 60% of consumers believe music used in marketing is more memorable than visuals!**
We know Intel relies on its sonic identity: the minute you hear it, you know exactly who it is. But what about the Lloyds Bank music, the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ it” jingle, and VISA’s new sound for smart payments, which signifies a safe and secure transaction?
And when it comes to your video content, are you choosing music that reflects your brand, or just picking a song because you like it? The same goes for your in-store, in-reception, even in-workshop experiences – the music you play (or radio station you choose) should be consistent with your brand values.
3. Triggers emotion
Visuals are important, but sound actually triggers more and deeper emotions. Let’s say you’re watching a scary film – without the sound you’re not going to be hiding behind a cushion. But just listening to the soundtrack can send shivers down your spine.
Any sounds and music you do use, whether it’s in your premises, in a promotional video, or even when your customers are on hold on the phone, it’s important they reflect the feeling and atmosphere you want for your brand.
If you want to make your customers happy, then pick something upbeat and friendly. If you’re an automotive brand, what about an iconic road-music track? On the other hand, if you’re a spa, you’ll want to be more relaxing, so something a bit slower and therapeutic would do the job. It’s all about getting the right ‘fit’, and it does matter, because…
47% of customers say music and sound help them feel more connected to a brand.**
4. Increases attention
Simply by reinforcing your brand identity with sound can help you stand out amongst the vast amount of information that’s out there today, capturing the attention of your target audience.
Sound adds another dimension to your brand. As mentioned, sound triggers emotion, and emotions are powerful! You can combine sound with the other elements, too, to create an entire, engaging, memorable, multi-sensory experience (for instance, the new VISA chime is part of a three-sensory branding experience).
For an in-store experience, smell and touch also come into play. If your shop smells good and customers can touch the product, they’re more likely to make the purchase. Combine that with some great visual merchandising and a killer soundtrack, the shopping experience is going to be much more memorable than just another run of the mill shop.
So, let’s take a look at some other big names with sonic identities…
O2 Recently launched theirs in the hope of building brand equity. This new sound concentrates on the human breath, reflecting the importance of oxygen – in O2s case, digital oxygen. You’ll be able to hear the sound in store, on TV, in apps and even at live experiences at O2 venues. It’s an identity which will help bring O2 to life, invoking emotion and improving brand recognition and recall. Listen out for it at the end of this advert..
Mastercard is another example. With a brand overhaul at the beginning of 2019, the company also shared their new sonic identity. Their unique melody was composed to play when customers interact with the brand, for example at point of sale or payment acceptance. On top of that, and playing on voice search, it can also beam out when Mastercard is used with voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa.
The brand cleverly had artists from around the world record different versions of the melody to ensure it resonates with their global audience. While certain music is proven to evoke the same emotions all over the world, the subtle differences in Mastercard’s identity put them one step ahead of the game when it comes to sonic branding.
And let’s not forget our own! We created this little animation to showcase our new logo last year. We picked a soundtrack that’s fun and friendly – just like Team Juicy!