How To Market Your Business With Sonic Branding


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Soundwave by soundwave: Building brand power. Sonic branding: How it all started.

Sound is a powerful force. A sound that powerfully elicits strong emotional responses from people. Leading brands and marketing agencies in Los Angeles today are harnessing audio’s potential for marketing purposes in this fast-paced digital age.

However, the idea of using sound to drive engagement and sell products is not new. Senator Paulinus of Nola introduced church bells to the Christian church in 400 AD to attract worshippers’ attention and encourage them to pray. The first ditties were introduced to London streets in the 1500s when shop owners performed songs to get the punters moving.

The invention of elevator music was a way to calm anxious passengers, who were afraid of the futuristic steel cages. In 1932, the Olympic Games in Los Angeles saw the first use of national anthems for gold medallists. The power of sound was harnessed to honor athletes and nations.

Once Upon A Jingle

Jump ahead a half-decade to 1984 and Michael Jackson was doing his famous moonwalk in the middle of Pepsi’s ‘The New Generation’ television ad. This campaign was so successful that thousands of people called radio stations asking for the ‘Pepsi Song’. The ad, which featured Billie Jean singing “you’re the Pepsi Generation guzzle down and feel the thrill of today,” was instantly embraced by the world. People still consider Pepsi “the drink of the future” to this day.

Sound effects such as station announcements, advertisements, airport or supermarket announcements, and the trills and tones of TV networks have been our constant companions since the 1980s. Sonic branding is a ubiquitous feature that has become part of consumer culture and consciousness. It’s something we hear and absorb without realizing it.

Use Sound Strategically and across Different Touchpoints

Sonic branding is a part of history. It surrounds us today and will likely continue to surround us tomorrow. What is it, and how can we use it in our daily lives? What is its purpose? Which purpose is it most effective for? Sonic branding refers to the integrated or holistic approach to a brand’s use of sound, music, and visuals across many touchpoints. These touchpoints could be anything, from a website to a chatbot, a song, an on-hold piece, a sonic logo, or the click of a button.

The Relationship Between Sound & Reaction

Sonic branding also involves the relationship between sound and the consumer or, more precisely, the brain of the consumer. It’s important to realize that sound does not happen in a vacuum. It’s reciprocal. Science would not classify a huge explosion as sound if it didn’t reach an eardrum. However, if the sound is received by the eardrum and transmitted to the brain then the human brain will react to it and create an intuitive reaction.

Sound is a dynamic interplay between the things that produce it and those that react to it. This is where the power of sonic branding lies. Hear, feel. Feel, purchase. It’s an easy equation. Many brands have yet to harness the power of sound.

Different Sounds, Different Responses

We’ve seen that sonic branding can be tailored for different mediums and broken down into different elements. Different sounds and instruments can also provoke different emotions. Another example of sonic branding is voice-assist technology and soundscapes. These are used when people interact with a brand in a physical environment.

Some brands create long-form, sonic expressions. These brand anthems can be used across all touchpoints. Some brands employ a micro-sound approach to creating many distinct sounds that can be used throughout the brand infrastructure but work together to form a cohesive whole.

The Art of Instrumental

Sonic branding is richer when different instruments are used in different ways to provoke different emotions. Strings are a source of warmth and security. Horns can give you a sense of courage. Drums can inspire a primal feeling. The human voice can help us feel safe and understood.

It is also important to pay attention to the notes. Music can influence how we feel. Harmonic progressions can make us feel happier, and melodies in major keys may make us feel happier.

To help brands achieve their sonic goals, entire sonic branding agencies exist. The sonic design doesn’t just involve designing one sound, but a whole collection. This involves understanding how different roles interact. Sound can not only create isolated reactions but also tell a story.

Masters of Sound

Some brands deserve to be mentioned as sonic branding icons. It’s difficult to overlook McDonald’s sonic super-strength with its “I’m Lovin It” jingle that transcends time zones and continents. It is worth noting that Disney has a vast sonic ecosystem that produces entire sound identities for every movie it makes. Amazon and Apple are busy securing sonic branding for the future. They have AI-powered voice-assist technology that shapes our lives and makes information more accessible than ever.

These sonic branding giants can teach smaller brands a lot. They have revolutionized the way we see, react, and communicate and are using sound to change the world.

Sound, as we have seen, has a profound and immediate effect on consumers. It can trigger feelings and actions such as a child running into the road to hear an ice cream van jingle or Mastercard releasing music records that will change the way its customers see it. Sound is an exceptional marketing tool.

About the author

Kobe Digital is a unified team of performance marketing, design, and video production experts. Our mastery of these disciplines is what makes us effective. Our ability to integrate them seamlessly is what makes us unique.