Sound branding


Sound branding (also known as audio branding, music branding, sonic branding, acoustic branding or sonic mnemonics) is the use of sound to reinforce brand identity. Sound branding is increasingly becoming a vehicle for conveying a memorable message to targeted consumers, taking advantage of the powerful memory sense of sound.

Contents

Sound logos

The sound logo is one of the tools of sound branding, along with the jingle, brand music, and brand theme. A sound logo (or audio logo or sonic logo) is a short distinctive melody or other sequence of sound, mostly positioned at the beginning or ending of a commercial. It can be seen as the acoustic equivalent of a visual logo. Often a combination of both types of logo is used to enforce the recognition of a brand. An example is the T-Mobile logo and ring tone composed by Lance Massey, or the Intel logo composed by Walter Werzowa.[1]

The sound logo leads to learning effects on consumer's perception of a certain product. A melody is the most memorable sequence of sound, since, when a melody starts, the human brain automatically expects the ending. However, some brands realise the importance the sound their brand can make and attempt to capitalize on its own uniqueness. A good example here is motorcycle brand Harley Davidson, which, in 1994, filed a sound trademark application for its distinctive V-twin engine sound. It realised that if it could capture its own sound, it could distinguish the brand at every point of customer interaction.[2] The most essential qualities of a sound logo are uniqueness, memorability, and flexibility.

Some widely known examples include:

  • Intel's "Intel inside" musical jingle"[3] (composed by Walter Werzowa)
  • NBC's 3 note flourish incorporated into station id's and news themes
  • THX's Deep Note
  • Fourscore, the four note audio ident used by Channel Four
  • The 20th Century Fox Fanfare (composed by Alfred Newman)
  • The Nokia tune
  • The Macintosh startup sound This is not actually sound branding, and was created to avoid negative connotations for when an apple macintosh crashed. Designer Jim Reekes wanted to create something which was more pleasant than the previous start up Tri-Tone sound.
  • The Xbox 360 startup sound/swoosh, created by Audiobrain

Radio and television stations create their own audio identities using a melodic themes to strengthen their brand. Notable radio examples include the short variations of the BBC Radio 2 or Classic FM jingles. In recent years, television station idents have also introduced their own audio identities to strengthen their brand recognitions.[4]

Other forms of sound branding

Sound branding encompasses many other tactics intended to convey organizational or product identity (who an organization is and what it stands for); enhance consumers' experience of a product or service; or extend an organization's relationship with its audience.

Creating a brand experience is using sound is also within the area of sound branding. As brands now look to engage with their customers on a much deeper level. The opportunities for creating a sound branding experience that conveys a brand essence and soul is possible. Bentley Motors recently looked to create a brand experience by replacing all interior mechanical sounds with sound that had been created for their Continental GT car.

Sound design for mobile phones, ATMs, laptop computers, PDAs, and countless other devices can improve the user experience by making tasks easier and more enjoyable. These sounds can also reveal something about the company that created the experience (and, in the case of personalized ringtones, something about the user him/herself). Manufacturers, software designers, and marketers who create these sonic experiences purposefully and with a view toward expressing something of themselves are practicing sound branding.

Another form of sound branding involves an organization's public association with or sponsorship of a musical enterprise—a non-profit music organization, for instance, or perhaps a music artist or group of artists. For example, some companies completely unrelated to music offer free music downloads on their websites. Ostensibly intended to demonstrate the sponsoring organization's good will from a cultural patronage stand point, practices like these also brand the organization by calling public attention to its beliefs, its values, and its aesthetic sensibilities.

It's arguable that sound branding is now using ‘subliminal’ brand placement in pop song lyrics to echo a corporate slogan, a company’s ‘Unique Selling Point’ or ‘brand values’ (rather than the ‘old fashioned’ mentioning of brands / products directly). An example of this would be Pharrell Williams’ 2005 song ‘Can I Have It Like That’ (featuring Gwen Stefani), with the chorus which echoed the Burger King advertising slogan "Have It Your Way".[5]

Notes

References

  • Bronner, Kai / Hirt, Rainer (2009): Audio Branding. Brands, Sound and Communication, Nomos, Baden-Baden. ISBN 978-3-8329-4352-3
  • Bronner, Kai / Hirt, Rainer (2007): Audio-Branding. Entwicklung, Anwendung, Wirkung akustischer Identitäten in Werbung, Medien und Gesellschaft [Development, Usage and Effect of Acoustic Identities in Advertising, Media and Society] , Verlag Reinhard Fischer, München (German, 2 articles in English).
  • Communicate magazine (2010): Sonic Branding, Cravenhill Publishing
  • Groves, John (2008): „Sound Branding – Strategische Entwicklung von Markenklang“. Marken-Management 2008/2009, - Jahrbuch für Strategie und Praxis der Markenführung, Henning Meyer (Hrsg.), Deutscher Fachverlag 2007. ISBN 978-3-86641-121-0
  • Jackson, Daniel (2004): Sonic Branding: An Introduction, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kusatz, Herwig (2007): Akustische Markenführung - Markenwerte gezielt hörbar machen, in: transfer - Werbeforschung & Praxis, 1/2007, S. 50-52.
  • Langeslag, Patrick/ Hirsch, Wilbert (2004): Acoustic Branding: Neue Wege für Musik in der Markenkommunikation, in: Brandmeyer, K./ Deichsel, A./ Prill, C. (Hrsg.): Jahrbuch Markentechnik 2004/2005, Deutscher Fachverlag, Frankfurt am Main
  • Ringe, C. (2005): Audio Branding, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Berlin (German).
  • Spitzer, Manfred (2005): Musik im Kopf - Hören, Musizieren, Verstehen und Erleben im neuronalen Netzwerk, 1. Aufl., 5. Nachdr., New York : Schattauer (German).
  • Steiner, Paul (2009): Sound Branding - Grundlagen der Akustischen Markenführung, Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden, ISBN 978-3-8349-1639-6
  • Treasure, Julian (2007): Sound Business, Management Books 2000.

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