Using our hearing sense, sonic branding builds a relationship between the product and its target market and helps companies communicate more genuinely.
The concept of connecting to customers with sound isn’t new. The first jingle was created sometime around 1926 when the concept of radio emerged as an entertainment medium for the masses.
But in the 50s, television invaded households, sending audio and video signals at the same time. As a result, most companies started focusing on text, visuals, and video, using sight as the main sense in their advertising communication campaigns. Surprisingly, they had forgotten to embrace the power of audio and have since neglected sound as an integral part of an experience.
In his book, The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, Juhani Pallasmaa talks about the complementarity between the sight and hearing senses. He writes: “The sense of sight implies exteriority, but sound creates an experience of interiority. The eye reaches, but the ear receives.”
In alignment with the core values of a brand, a musical marketing strategy can amplify and make them more memorable. Although both visuals and music have the ability to trigger emotions and add brand recognition, music makes the visuals more valuable because it creates a deeper and more genuine connection between the brand and the target market on a subconscious level.
As humans, we are wired for sounds. The hearing sense is the only one that we cannot shut down. Sound is everywhere; it envelops us. When we hear music, it releases dopamine in our brain, which affects the way we feel, transports us through our memories and even inspires action.
So, there is a clear opportunity for businesses to broaden their marketing horizons by making better use of audio. And now that sound is becoming more prevalent in every household, on our phone and computers, businesses are re-thinking the way they build their audio brand. Thus, sonic branding is now becoming increasingly popular in the modern marketplace.
How do you implement a sonic branding strategy?
The ultimate goal of a musical branding strategy is to infuse in every communication touchpoint a consistent and recognizable audio message.
The creative process starts with an audio audit of the brand in order to understand its essence, attributes, target market, and competitive landscape. From there, those closest to the brand work closely with a sonic branding strategist and composer to translate the mental image of the brand into a musical language.
From this first step a sonic logo is revealed, the musical DNA of the brand. The sonic logo is to our ears what a visual logo is to our eyes. It is short—3 to 5 seconds—and impactful.
The second step is to develop the sonic logo with the creation of a sonic signature, a more elaborate and longer version of the sonic logo. By adding layers of instruments, sounds, rhythms or even vocals, a brand’s song is created; it becomes the musical footprint of the brand.
Like all elements supporting a strong brand, consistency is crucial:
- Following the brand’s musical guidelines, the sonic logo must be used consistently and unaltered.
- The sonic signature is embedded in a consistent manner to any audio interaction points with the customers, such as the hold-on music, explainer videos, radio or TV campaigns, podcasts, or at the brand’s events.
Olivier Jamin Changeart is the Founder & CEO of OJC, Artisan of Sound. He is also a former Spencer Brenneman client and current partner.