How to build a brand with sound

How to build a brand with sound

Over the past 12 months, we have seen a tremendous increase in audible based media consumption.

Thanks to growing number of smart speakers in households and the expansion of audio-based content formats such as podcasts, we are listening to brands more and more versus seeing them. 

But do we recognise the brands when we can’t see them?

It’s a question that every brand needs to think about as consumer preference and media consumption continues to diversify. With a more heterogenous landscape of touchpoints and channels, brands must consider their 'sonic identity' with the same vigour they do visual assets as it has massive potential to connect with audiences at an even deeper level.

Let’s take the Premier League’s new anthem for the upcoming season as an example. 

With empty stadiums, fans are watching the action from the comfort of their living room and the sound goes someway to transferring game euphoria through to TV and radio.

In the context of “played behind closed doors”, Premier League’s investment in a new audio anthem reinforces its commitment to engage the audience and ensure that fans can hear the emotion of the match even when being at home.

Covid has forced a lot of brands to reinvent themselves.

They have also had to accelerate their digital transformations and improve their branding strategies. Premier League is betting on the new age of football, and a sustainable sonic identity is heading in the right direction.

In fact, sound branding is not new. 

Forward-thinking brands like McDonald’s and Disney have created sonic logos or jingles for the past several decades to encourage the public to subconsciously recall them when they hear the specific sound. 

But with the range of applications and smart devices growing, a short-term approach like a simple sonic logo is no longer enough to reach the consumers.

With a growing number of digital channels available, a far more comprehensive approach is needed to keep pace with technology and customer experience developments. An integrated sonic branding requires a truly multi-dimensional sonic expression of the brand, or as we call it a 'Sonic DNA' that runs throughout every touchpoint of a brand, instantly recalling positive associations within the consumer.

Flexible and adaptable audio assets like branded music, a brand voice, user experience sounds, and other sonic mnemonics could help brands to future-proof their sonic ecosystems and build trust through coherent auditory brand experiences.

Enhancing recognition, engagement, and awareness are some of the keynotes of a holistic sonic identity. 

And the future landscape between branding, sound, and voice is set to become even more interlinked.

Mastercard is the best audio brand in 2020 according to amp's ranking.

Introduced in 2019 for the first time, amp’s Best Audio Brands Ranking analyses how well the world’s top brands are using sound and 2020’s winner was Mastercard across every category, jumping from 72nd place in the space of a year. 

The ranking dissects how brands are using audio identities across channels, whether they are co-ordinating the sound of their brand and how they are using music. The study also considers factors like consumer trust, recognition, and audio efficiency (ROI) to rank the brands.

Mastercard dethroned the previous winner, McDonald’s, by embracing a holistic sonic identity across all audio touchpoints from advertisements to point-of-sale transactions. It revamped its branding and digital user experience to match the consumers’ behaviour and build trust over time.

Mastercard has invested in sonic assets that connect the brand through core melodies.

These melodies can be edited and adjusted to the different cultural markets and the variety of devices the brand is present in. For example, a payment confirmation sound that reassures consumers when a contactless transaction is successful has been developed from the core brand music. To date, this sonic asset has been added to over 36 million digital wallets and physical payment terminals around the globe.

Furthermore, Mastercard launched a multichannel marketing campaign that includes custom owned tracks and soundscapes featured in an ambitious installation in restaurants across New York City, London, and Japan.

Mastercard’s success manifests that brands can successfully develop a holistic sonic strategy relatively quickly and reap the benefits.

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