When we think of a brand identity, the first thing that typically defines our perception of it is its visual presentation. Sight is almost always our initial go-to means for receiving information from our surroundings and, accordingly, forms the main pathway for understanding and defining what a brand means to us.
In the early to mid-20th century, when brand communications was mainly limited to print and display media, marketers had little choice but to define their brands by visual representations and written/verbal messaging. But as audio technology became more sophisticated, music and sound helped add another dimension to branding efforts in broadcast media. And with the vast majority of marketing communications taking place on digital and online platforms today, sound provides additional opportunities to reinforce brand recognition.
Here are some benefits of a unique sound signature for your brand:
- Driving familiarity and memorability
Perhaps the most famous audio branding example to date is the Intel sound logo. The simple five-note progression helped make Intel a widely recognized brand even though many people barely understood what the product was (microprocessor chips). Face it, after you’ve heard it a few times, you probably have never gotten it out of your head.
- Conveying brand characteristics
During the early and mid-20th century, MGM Studios was unquestioningly the leading movie studio in the U.S. As such, before the beginning of every MGM-produced movie, viewers saw, and definitely heard, a live-action roaring lion placed within the MGM production logo—a perfect symbol of the studio’s dominance in Hollywood.
- Setting the stage for the product experience
Another great way to reinforce the brand is incorporating a sound signature that reflects, or provides an introduction into, the actual user experience. The deeply sonorous Apple startup sound tells users that they’re in for a grand experience. And the instantly recognizable sonic precursor to every episode of “Law & Order” conveys the closing of prison doors or the banging of a judge’s gavel, helping to heighten the upcoming drama.
- Signaling a market focus
When McDonald’s embarked on its first global marketing campaign in 2003, it made clear that it was focusing its outreach to appeal more directly to a younger, more health-conscious audience. While introducing salads, lighter fare, and more healthful options to its menu, it launched the “I’m lovin’ it” campaign that featured the breezy “ba-da-ba-ba-ba” vocal tag. This catchy little hook perfectly aligns with the attitude and style of the audience McDonald’s was targeting. The campaign is still going strong today.
So when you’re embarking on a branding campaign, don’t overlook the opportunity to incorporate a sound logo into your communications or customer engagement points. It’s an easy way to add emotion and familiarity to your presence, differentiate you from others, and literally add more volume to your brand voice.