The Sonic Branding Blog

  • The ChromeOrange Media Sonic Branding Team

10 Sonic Branding Do’s and Don’ts

Updated: Sep 7


Illustration of sonic branding

Sonic branding is a powerful way to boost brand recall and recognition. As we’ve pointed out in previous blog posts and in our webinar, Brands Like Hit Songs (which will be rerun after Labor Day), it can boost brand recall by as much as 96%. That’s truly astounding!  But, sonic branding does not follow the same process as visual branding does. It’s much lengthier and more laborious, and there are some rules you will need to follow. Read on for 10 sonic branding do’s and don’ts that must be followed.


The Don’ts


Don’t #1: Start Now, Not Later


A highly-effective sonic brand/audio logo and other music and sound with which it is paired should given careful consideration.  This cannot be a “we need it by this Friday” moment. This is an investment of time and capital in your brand’s future.  Start now so this important piece of the puzzle will be in place later when your competitiveness really needs the boost it will afford.


Don’t #2:   Don’t View Sonic Branding as Entertainment


Sonic branding is not entertainment. While some sonic brands are paired with music that does provide a bit of entertainment, sonic branding is about brand building and using sound to build trust with consumers.


Don’t #3:  Don’t Use the Same Background Music for Everything


You don’t wear the same clothes to every event, so why use the same background music for everything associated with your brand?  Adapt the music to the context. Phone-on-hold music should have lots of variety and surprises to keep the caller interested and reduce hang-ups whereas music in a parking facility should be calming. Music for meetings should start calmly and then build a sense of anticipation, music for videos should support the storyline, not just merely fill up empty space.


Don’t #4:  Don’t confuse music production houses or branding agencies with audio branding experts. 


Even if they claim to have experience creating audio logos/sonic brands, the vast majority of music production houses are not audio branding experts.  Likewise, not all branding agencies are audio branding experts, either.  Most of the time, branding agencies are focused on visuals and messaging, not sound. In fact, most branding agencies wouldn’t be able to even define audio branding no less successfully create an audio brand/sonic logo or an audio brand strategy for your brand.

Audio branding experts are focused on finding a way to make your brand distinctive in its product category and precise in its communication of brand essence, promise and values. They will analyze your brand’s competitors, take you through a defined process, and build an Audio Style Guide to help ensure branding consistency. Some are also music experts, but not all of them are.  ChromeOrange Media has branding, sonic branding and marketing expertise plus expertise in business strategy. So, here at ChromeOrange, it’s not just about making your brand more memorable–it’s about making your brand, and therefore your company, more profitable.


Don’t #5:  Don’t Focus on the Cost—Focus on the Value


Sonic branding is not cheap. There’s no way for us to pretty up that statement.  But here’s the big question:   What is the value of competitiveness to you?  You must view the expense of sonic branding as an investment, not an expense. View it as value you will bring to your brand.  Can you really put a price on differentiation?  And at a time when sonic branding is still underutilized by brands in all industries (B2C and B2B), there is no better time to jump on this than right now.


The Do’s


Do #1:  Make it the Right Fit for Your Brand


You and/or your colleagues might love dub step, but if that sound doesn’t align with your brand’s values and customers, you will totally miss the mark—like a shot in the dark. Like trying to nail pudding to a wall. Remember, your audio footprint must convey your brand’s essence, promise, and values.


Do #2:  Pair Your Sonic Brand with Appropriate Music


This goes hand in hand with Do #1 above.  In all likelihood, you will use your sonic brand in advertising for your product, which means that you will need background music. That background music must fit the brand and must also fit with the sonic brand.  The brand, the sonic brand and the music must be three parts of a well-oiled machine. While the squeaky wheel may get the grease, it can also run you over if you’re not careful.  Be deliberate in the way you select music for your marketing.  Once you’ve established your audio brand strategy, your audio DNA and your sonic brand, this becomes easier.  But for the best results, leave the decisions up to the audio brand strategy professionals.


Do #3:  Think Beyond the Mnemonic


Think beyond the mnemonic. Those four or five notes are the starting point, not the end game.  Your audio logo should be part of an audio brand strategy that includes customer and user experience.  It works the same way as messaging: The headline isn’t the entire advertisement.


Do #4: Make a List of Brand Audio Touchpoints.


Where do your customers interact with your brand? Make a thorough list key touchpoints for your brand, including your branded content, your on-hold music, your trade show booth, your radio and TV spots, your app-opening sounds, your events, your parking lots, and corridors, and more. These (as well as other touchpoints) are prime opportunities for you to use sound to reinforce your brand messaging.


Do #5:  Use your audio logo in conjunction with your visual logo.


Whenever your visual logo animates onto the screen, have your audio logo synchronized with it. The most powerful branding tool in your kit will be your multisensory end frame.


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