The Beginner’s Guide to Sonic Branding


The Beginner’s Guide to Sonic Branding

Not sure what sonic branding is or why your business needs it? Then read this guide to the art of sonic branding and the benefits it could bring to your business.

What is sonic branding?

Most of us will be familiar with the concept of visual branding. That is a combination of design elements (i.e., colour palettes, shapes, shading, typography and more) that combine to create brand logos and other visual materials.

Sonic branding is the audio counterpart of visual branding. It’s sound or music composed to be a soundbite associated with your brand. Here are a few well-known examples:

  • The Nokia ringtone
  • Netflix’s distinctive ‘ta-dum’
  • McDonald’s ‘I’m lovin it’ jingle, which has been reimagined numerous times over its 15-year life
  • The roar of the MGM lion
  • Apple’s start-up chime

There are countless more well-known examples out there. They may only consist of one or two notes but they instantly bring a brand to mind. They are usually used for marketing and brand awareness purposes.

You may hear sonic branding also described as ‘audio branding,’ ‘sonic logos’ or ‘sound logos.’ 

How is sonic branding created?

We’ve talked about some of the elements of visual branding, like colour palettes, above. What are the sonic branding equivalents that combine to form a distinctive sound?

Sonic (or sound) branding is one brief sound signatures (or more) per brand. They are incredibly short, perhaps just one or two seconds long, but this does not mean they are easy or quick to create. A skilled composer must combine many standard elements of original music composition to achieve something very short but distinctive.

Composers need to pay attention to notes and melody, rhythm, tone, dynamics, harmony and more. Talented, creative and experienced artists work hard and use all their skills to deliver just a few seconds’ worth of sound that matches their client’s needs and aspirations.

What are the benefits of sonic branding?

Firstly, sound can be attention-seeking, turning heads and ears towards you. It’s no coincidence that the MGM lion’s roar and the Netflix sound logo are dramatic in character. They arouse their audience’s brains and focus their attention. A sound logo will get you noticed, enhance consumer engagement, and help build your brand recognition across multiple touchpoints with music marketing.  

As a music fan, you’ll also know that sound has an unparalleled ability to trigger emotion. Music can trigger all kinds of feelings, both negative and positive. Think about the fear you might feel upon hearing the well-known repetitive violin notes used in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Psycho,” without the visuals, or how uplifted and joyful you might be to hear music played on your wedding day. Sound is proven to release mood-altering chemicals into the brain. 

Brands can apply this knowledge by creating music to trigger an emotional response. What kind of feelings would you want your brand to evoke? All can be achieved by sound. Audio signatures can be an important layer in your whole brand strategy. Sonic branding can deepen your brand identity, helping you to convey your purpose and values.

When done well, sonic branding will also help fix your brand in the mind of the consumer. Some research has even demonstrated that using sound can boost memory and, therefore, brand recall.   

Why is sonic branding more important than ever?

Do you have a smartphone? A tablet? We are now using more audio-enabled devices than ever before. Think how much sound and even sonic branding you are already consuming yourself.

Do you also have a smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or Google Nest? These devices are now in millions of homes across the globe, being used for information, shopping, entertainment and more. However, these smart speakers offer no opportunity to showcase visual branding. Brands must think again. This is where sonic signatures come into their own.

Be aware that it takes a long time for sonic branding to become recognisable to consumers. It must be consistently used across multiple touchpoints for some time before that instant recognition you are striving for appears. This is why your brand needs to start considering its sonic branding today.

How do you get sonic branding right?

As we already know, sonic branding is not quick or simple to get right. There’s an art to even the briefest of musical compositions. You need a sound signature that also fits seamlessly into your brand strategy. It needs to perfectly align with your brand story and messaging.

Thankfully, there are talented teams of people out there who can present you with a solution. Whether you are looking for functional sounds for your products, promotional sounds, or a whole catalogue, you need to approach an agency specialising in sound or sonic branding. Their end-to-end solutions will be created by a team of professionals experienced in composition and sound design, production and recording, and post-production. Why not get started today?  

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