How Does Your Brand Sound?

Brian McHale

CEO and Owner
sound design

All brands understand the importance of visual identity. Brand guidelines often dedicate multiple pages for the logo alone. But there is an equally important brand asset that is often overlooked or ignored. It’s sound.

Sonic or audio branding is a powerful tool that can be used to create mood, act as a memory peg, reinforce values and strengthen an emotional bond.

Think about how a movie score impacts your experience, or the music that’s playing in your favorite store or restaurant. It’s an important sensory element that impacts how you feel about a product or experience.

Jingles have long been a staple of advertisers. But sonic branding has evolved to include more sophisticated elements like brand mnemonics – little ear worms that burrow into your brain and remain with you throughout the day. Things like the four electronic notes that identify IT products with Intel chips inside. You get a feeling of reassurance knowing that the product is made with top quality components. Like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for your ears.

It’s the reason why whenever you hear, “We are Farmers”. you automatically go “Bom-ba-dom-bom, bom-bom-bom.” Or the app on your phone plays the ESPN audio brand whenever a score is updated. Auditory assets like these make the brand more memorable and help to communicate the brand’s essence to your target audience. It becomes your audio logo. And it works whether you’re watching or not. Which is super important given the multi-screen habits that has become the norm for most consumers.

Fact is, audio surrounds us every day. Not just on radio, but on TV, video, podcasts, music-streaming platforms. It’s virtually everywhere. A recent survey by Pandora found that 50% of all Americans listen to streaming audio weekly. They spend more time listening to streaming audio than they do on social networking. And it’s taking on a greater role than just entertainment.

As voice-powered personal assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home have become part of our everyday lives, audio branding has taken on an even greater role. Juniper Research estimates about 3.25 billion voice assistants are in use today and predicts that number will grow to 8 billion in 2023. These new technologies don’t just talk at consumers, they have enabled brands to have a two-way voice dialogue with customers. It’s another opportunity to use your sonic brand to make a sensory impression that sticks with your customers.

That’s why it’s so important to develop a consistent sonic identity that can be used to create a consistent sound across everything from ads to on-hold music and the sound played at trade show booths. More and more brands are dedicating time and effort to how they sound and how their brand is heard online and beyond. If you aren’t leveraging your audio brand, you’re missing a powerful opportunity to forge a stronger emotional bond with consumers in today’s connected and voice-activated world.

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