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Sound: The Last Frontier of Branding

Remember what it was like connecting to the internet in 2001? You could brew an entire pot of coffee while the static-filled beeping melody steadily dominated the room. Even though the days of dial-up are long gone, everyone who used the internet during that time can remember the sound.

This phenomenon is called sonic branding.

Also known as sound or audio branding, the technique uses a unique audio cue to elicit a memorable, emotional connection from consumers. Brands can use sound to increase their recognition in dramatic ways, but this strategy is often overlooked by marketers.

In fact, a study by Decode Marketing shows that of the 95% of international marketing professionals who employ logos to develop a memorable identity in consumers, only 18% of them use sonic branding. A gap that large speaks to the untapped potential of sonic branding across all industries. See the full study here.

How You Can Leverage Sound to Reinforce Your Brand

Not sure whether sonic branding is right for you? Here are three examples of iconic brands that leveraged sound to create a lasting impact on their bottom line.

The McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” Jingle

This is a universally understood sound bite; everyone who overhears the tune immediately thinks of the double arches and the taste of a delicious double cheeseburger. Originally taken from a Justin Timberlake song, the McDonald’s sonic brand reached 86% awareness in the top ten target countries just a year after it was launched.

The “Intel Bong”

Intel’s ditty helps connect consumers to the idea of personal computers and technological advancements. When Walter Werzowa was first hired to create the tune for the “Intel Inside” campaign, he was told it needed to evoke innovation, trouble-shooting skills and the inside of a computer. Now, it is often referred to as the most successful technological sound branding of all time.

Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” 

Mazda considers this campaign to be a core part of its brand essence. As a sports car manufacturer, the company needs to convey a certain youthful, exciting lifestyle to its consumers. The sound bite was created to help solidify this message by capturing “the exhilaration and liberation of experiencing the emotion of motion.”

In Conclusion

Every day, marketing professionals face the same problem: how do you capture a user’s attention, even for a few seconds? The upside of sonic branding is the ability to engage a consumer even while they’re multitasking. Think about it: a sound plays in a retail store while a consumer is shopping, or a TV jingle reaches a consumer while they’re washing the dishes. With the power to bridge the attention gap, perhaps a sonic branding strategy deserves a second look (or should we say, “second listen”).