If you used a smart device today to search for a product or turn on your lights, you get it: Voice-enabled technology makes everyday life easier. Similarly, sound technology is being turned into a brand marketing opportunity that’s simplifying the way we connect with our customers and prospects. A sonic identity uses the power of sound to make an emotional connection with customers, but with an enduring quality than transcends a static image or text—and it’s changing the marketing landscape.
What Is a Sonic Identity?
A sonic identity is essentially the essence of your brand translated into audio. Also called audio branding, sound or sonic branding, or acoustic branding, it uses auditory elements to reinforce your brand’s identity. It’s a modern and powerful tool that uses a distinct soundtrack across all brand touchpoints and marketing channels to market your brand or product.
Just as music can make an immediate and emotional connection—it can change our mood, create a vibe, or trigger a memory—a sonic identity makes a solid and memorable brand association with your audience. Appealing to emotions can also help convey your organically convey your brand’s core values or attributes.
The Psychology of Sonic Branding
This expert from Marketing Tutor explains the psychology behind sonic branding and asserts that sound is as important—or even more so—than visuals: “This is the most untapped branding aspect which can be very effective in making your brand stand out. There are several types of research that indicate that ultimate and best decisions are made in a non-rational way as they are made from the limbic part of the human mind and this part of the brain is aroused by sound or music.
“The psychology of this type of branding is associated with several advantages:
It triggers emotions.
Sound has the ability to trigger emotions more than visuals. If you watch a horror movie without sound you might not get that scared; however, if you simply listen to the sound without visuals, you might get scared easily.
Gets more attention.
With the availability of huge information database, attention has become the asset that is most scarce. Adding in a sound or music option reinforces brand identity and will be very helpful in gaining more attention of the target market.
Enhances brand recall.
There are studies that indicate that listening to sound or music helps in correlating with the message and helps in improving verbal memory of the audience and which leads to an improved brand recall.
Communicates clearer message.
Music holds a direct relation with emotions. Every sound or chord triggers different types of emotions. Using the right sound for your brand will be very helpful in communicating your brand message with the target audience in a better, creative, and effective way.”
Why Your Brand Needs a Sonic Identity
Sonic identity can be an essential building block for your brand. According to TikTok for Business, the audio trend “presents a key opportunity for brands: a chance to own the sonic space, gain an advantage over competitors and enrich their brand identity even more. From re-imagining jingles and product sounds to engineering original music, it’s more important than ever for brands to optimize their sound in the same way they would focus on their brand guidelines, color scheme, and creative identity.”
The benefits of sonic branding are well documented: “Research shows that sonic cues are one of the most effective distinctive assets for gaining branded attention: a study found that brand linkage and recall increase by over 8x when distinctive brand sounds are leveraged in ads, compared to other elements like slogans and logos.” (Ipsos)
What’s more, creating a sonic identity for your brand can help to:
• Increase brand recognition
• Positively alter brand perception
• Increase emotional recall
• Create brand consistency
• Differentiate your brand from competitors
Examples of Standout Sonic Identities
Sonic branding has been around for years and continues to grow in relevance and reach in an age where video and audio connectivity prevail. Think about these distinctive brand sounds: When you hear “badabababa,” you recognize it as the McDonald’s jingle. And with a single “bong,” you think Taco Bell. Memorable and immediately identifiable, these audio tags help brands make stronger connections with their audiences.
A recent article in Forbes reports on a popular type of sonic branding or identity called “the sonic signature – a few notes that are repeated in the same way, often as a confirmation of an action. For instance, the sound you hear when you turn on your computer or your phone, or when Amazon’s Alexa carries out your command are all sonic signatures. These sonic signatures are highly intentional in some cases and relate to other elements of the company’s branding.”
Watch this short video about the debut of Mastercard’s sonic signature or “transaction sound” that plays across various mediums and platforms:
How to Create a Sonic Identity for Your Brand
Adweek says, “audio channels are trending with consumers, yet branding investments are still overwhelmingly visual.” So, if you’re thinking about testing the waters with audio marketing, follow these expert tips for creating a solid sonic identity:
Stay true to your brand.
Understanding that a sonic signature or identity is part of your larger brand strategy treat this sound like any other element of your brand marketing: Consider your customer demographics, brand attributes, tone, etc. Next, decide how your audience will feel when they hear that tone: Do you want them to feel excited, secure, or confident? Build a detailed sound profile before you start the creative process.
Conduct a brand audit.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you might already have the makings of a sonic identity in the works: Do you end your podcast or videos with signature music or tagline? Think about what you’ve already used and what’s been effective in your digital marketing and play off those strengths.
Keep it simple.
Study examples of some of the most effective and iconic brand identities—most of them are short and sweet. Don’t try to get too carried away. A clean, clear audio logo is the most memorable.
Do your research to be sure not to use a sound that’s already used or one that’s close to a competitor’s audio logo. Use a professional to get it right, whether with a freelance developer or a digital marketing agency specializing in creative sonic branding.
One Final Thought About Sonic Branding
As you consider whether the development of a sonic identity is right for your brand, treat it as you would any other marketing asset: To get the most out of your investment, a sonic logo or signature deserves your full time and attention as well as a consistent hand that ensures that it flows seamlessly with your brand marketing program.