What Would Your Brand Sound Like if it Were a Melody?
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Have you ever wondered what your brand would sound like if it were a melody? And have you ever stopped to ponder the sounds you hear every day? Like your Apple or Windows computer—the melody it plays on startup.
And what about what you hear while you’re on hold when you call your bank, cell phone carrier, insurance provider, or internet service provider? Does the sound scream the brand's personality?
Or do you only hear silence? (That, by the way, is what the ChromeOrange Media Sonic Branding Squad calls “The brand kiss of death.”) Studies have shown that almost half of consumers react negatively or very negatively to silence.
Now more than ever, what a brand sounds like has become as much a part of individual and distinctive brand identity as visual logos, service experiences, advertising and product and services sets. That’s because sound is becoming increasingly critical in the world in which we live. We interact with voice-controlled products, touchpoints and services, stretching from conversational commerce and self-service menu options to voice-controlled light switches and home security units, electronic appliances, mobile phones, wearable health devices, and more. And we receive sonic cues to guide us through product set-up and other UX applications.
But what does it really mean to find and articulate your audio brand identity?
A brand’s sonic identity is to the ears what its visual logo is to the eyes. But it’s more than a three-, four-, or five-note audio logo. Highly effective sonic brands are brand anthems. A sonic logo should be as memorable as a hit song “hook,” and it should be paired with music and sound that fits it and the brand so that in every interaction with the brand, your brand sounds like your brand. There should be common elements that are like threads woven through a piece of cloth.
To create a truly effective sonic brand and audio brand strategy, you must first look at brand values and differentiators. Then, you must examine what the brand stands for, the image and personality you want it to convey, and who its target audience is. All of that—plus much more that is determined via a brand audit—determines the notes, instrumentation, sounds, and sound effects that will become the aural expression of the brand.
Why is brand sound more powerful than brand visuals?
As WARC's July 2020 report pointed out, and as we explain in our webinar, Brands Like Hit Songs™, people react to a new sound up to 10 times faster than they respond to visual stimuli. And we remember sound longer than we remember visuals because sound is stored in our echoic memory, where it makes a pretty swift journey into our long-term memory. That's the reason why you only need to hear the chorus—the "hook"—of a well-crafted song a couple of times before your brain commits it to memory. It's what makes a hit song a hit. And that’s why our webinar is called Brands Like Hit Songs™.
Moreover, the way our brains process sound is more linked into subliminal processes than conscious thought. And that’s why it influences our perceptions, expectations, and behavior—including our perceptions and expectations of brands and our consumer behavior.
The true power of audio in branding and advertising
An Ipsos study into distinctive brand assets is a further indicator of audio’s power. In its February 2020 findings across more than 2000 video advertising pieces of creative, sonic brand cues were 8.53 times more powerful than visual brand assets tested in terms of performance. The latest research by Analytics Partners into the power of audio with consumers also demonstrates the important role audio plays in the marketing mix.
Yet, the vast majority of companies across the full spectrum of industries don’t fully comprehend the terms “sonic branding” and “audio brand strategy,” and therefore, their conception of the two doesn’t go far enough to truly have brand impact. There has been a surge in companies that say they are doing this, but when ChromeOrange Media’s Sonic Branding Squad listens to what these companies are putting out there, it’s apparent that many are not doing the discovery, research, strategy, critical listening, and technical optimization that is necessary, and the sonic brand they end up with has no relevance to the company’s strategic brand initiatives.
As ChromeOrange Media’s Chief Brand Strategist, Susan Gaide, points out, “Everything—absolutely every brand asset and piece of content, including the sonic brand—must tie back to the company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Without that, you have no chance for a cohesive brand strategy that marries sound with visuals and messaging.”
What brands need to remember is that consumers have a lot of choices. Your sonic brand is your chance to differentiate your brand in a way that is ultimately memorable. The goal is to ignite consumer recall of your brand—instant recognition when they hear your audio logo. And it has to stick with them. Like any other brand asset or piece of content, there has to be an element of what is known in content marketing as “stickiness.” Like a hit song.
Remember, audio is a personal, one-to-one medium that does not require a screen. As a result, it’s an incredibly powerful, portable, and accessible medium for both consumers and marketers.
How sonic branding impacts brand metrics
Sonic branding also impacts important brand metrics in significant ways. Spotify audio-based advertising programs led to up to a 26% increase in brand awareness, 46% increase in brand favorability and 51% increase in brand consideration. What’s more, an 86% correlation has been made between the reaction to sound and a desire to return to that experience.
These trends support the trending notion that marketers need to change their approach to branding by putting sound at the center of their brand campaigns. Sound is the fastest human sense—faster than smell, taste, sight, and even touch. Combining that with the fact that music evokes emotion (a significant driver in brand perception and loyalty), the potential for sound in branding—from proprietary navigation sounds to brand anthems—couldn't be more clear.
For more information about sonic branding, audio brand strategy, and the application of sound and music in brand messaging, digital advertising, UX, visit our sonic branding page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.