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What Is Sonic Branding, And How Can You Use It?

By George Newton | 22nd February 2022

The visual side of any brand absolutely essential and well-established - but what about the sound of branding?

I don't need to explain the importance of brand, you already know it. The logo, colours and aesthetic all have a part to play in picking you out from the crowd. However, Sonic Branding is fast becoming the most vital side of a brand. 

It's just as important, and it's something you'll want to look into. Here's what sonic branding is, and why it's crucial to your company's reputation in 2022. 

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What Is Sonic Branding?

Firstly, let's break down what Sonic Branding is. While a logo contributes to your brand visually, your sonic branding is the sounds that you use to represent your business. Think of it as an extension of your image - much like how merchandise can be instrumental in branding. There are lots of famous sonic branding instances that you'll know.

For example, the Intel jingle used in their adverts is iconic. Anyone who grew up in the '90s will have fond memories of the PlayStation or GameCube startup sounds. Can anyone forget “SEGAAAA”?

Is sonic branding just jingles? They can often be a part of it, but there are a lot of other sounds that will make up your brand's DNA. Think app start up sounds, melodies on websites, music played in radio and TV ads, and more. 

As you can see, sonic branding is important. For many companies, they are inextricably linked to their sonic branding, to the point that it's made them household names. Here's how you can put sonic branding in place and get the most out of it. 

Sonic Branding in Voice-Over

As demonstrated by the timeless SEGA, a sound isn't the be all end all with your brand. A human voice can be a fantastic way to lend an authentic sound to your image; just think about the classic EA Sports brand.

What Do You Want to Communicate?

Who are you? What does your organisation stand for and how can you transfer this over to your audience? That is at the core of a good sonic brand.

Some sounds have become so intrinsically linked with a company that they have been using the same sound for decades because they picked something that had a timeless quality. You'll want to do the same, picking sounds that don't rely on current trends. If you do that, you run the risk of sounding dated. 

How should sonic branding sound?

Sonic branding confirms information with the user. When you tap the keypad on your phone, it will play a concise sound. This lets you know that the button has indeed been pressed. Most phones will play a click or a thud, making the selection official. The same goes for sending an email. The general ‘whoosh’ sound not only tells the user that the email has been sent but suggests it is flying away to its destination. 

Sonic branding should be used to evoke specific senses. The email sound is relaxing, confirming that the job is done when you hear it. Excitement or the demand for attention are evoked in more specific examples of sonic branding. Take the lion’s roar just before an MGM movie begins. It’s dramatic and grabs your attention. Through repeated viewing of MGM films, the audience learns that it means the movie is starting. It’s not just exciting, but it gives specific information. 

The sounds you choose for your sonic branding should do the same. Is the intention to inform the user, excite audiences, or make your brand known? To do this successfully, should you relax them, startle them, or get stuck in their head with a catchy tune?

Remember That Copyright Still Applies

Just like with visual branding, you'll need to consider copyright. You can create sounds and jingles from scratch with musicians, or you can sample sounds from a soundbank. There are plenty of different options out there, so you can make something that's all your own.

Just like with visual branding, you need to ensure you aren't using copyrighted material. If you hire musicians to create the branding for you, then that shouldn't be a problem. If you're a smaller business though, you will need to use sound banks to get what you need. Ensure that you're legally entitled to use any sound that you find online - original writing is essential in any copy, whether creative or in academic writing.

Make It Pleasant To Hear

This sounds obvious, but if your audience finds the sonic branding annoying, then they're going to be turned off by it.

Take UK insurance comparison brand Go Compare, for instance. They used an opera singer to sing their sonic branding in ads, but the audience found it so off-putting they had to dial it back and come up with something else. 

Keep It Simple And Straightforward

As you're making your sonic branding, it's best to keep it as simple as possible. The best branding is around three seconds long and unique enough to stick in your memory. For example, take the Netflix startup sound. It's very short and paired with a quick visual clue. That shows the audience that the show they're watching is from Netflix, and keeps it fresh in their memory every time they start a new episode. 

Once you have the branding put together, you'll want to use it everywhere that makes sense. A streaming service such as Netflix will use it before streaming an episode, as described above. It'll also be used when you launch the app when you watch a trailer for a Netflix show online, and so on. The more it's used, the more it will stick in the audience's memory. 

There you have it. Creating the right sonic branding is easier than you think when you know how. Just like with a good logo, you'll be able to get your audience to associate your company with a particular sound and use your services because of it. 

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George Newton

George Newton

George J. Newton is a business development manager, writing about his work for Academic Brits. He works with businesses to improve their marketing and outreach.

About Author

George Newton

George Newton

George J. Newton is a business development manager, writing about his work for Academic Brits. He works with businesses to improve their marketing and outreach.

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