Why All Businesses Need to Think About Sonic Branding (video)

Most of us think of branding as a visual exercise. McDonald’s Golden Arches. Nike’s Swoosh. Yet consumers are increasingly asking Siri or Alexa to find things for them. So how does branding work in an increasingly audio environment?

This is where “sonic branding” comes in. It’s hardly a new concept. But it’s importance is growing. And not just for big brands. While we may not use the phrase “sonic branding”, we all know what it is.

Sonic branding is this

It’s also this

And, of course, this…

Sonic branding is an audio signature — a song, a phrase, a chime — that instantly evokes a brand. None of the examples above use the brands’ names, yet each is instantly recognizable.

In an era of growing voice search adoption, sonic branding is taking on greater meaning.

On a recent “Above the Cloud” podcast, we discussed sonic branding and what it means for businesses in the age of voice search with Yext‘s in-house thought leader Duane Forrester.

Duane makes the argument that all businesses (including SMBs) can and should engage in sonic branding, particularly in a voice search environment. And the results do not need to be iconic, they just need to evoke a positive association with a business.

“Apply this to a scenario where you have an Amazon Skill or a Google Action,” Duane explains. “And you’re answering questions. And at the end of every question there is a soft chime. That soft chime, when you hear it over and over again at the end of an answer — much like Pavlov’s dog — teaches the listener that the question has been answered. And it has been answered by you.”

Our conversation on sonic branding begins at 24:23 on Episode 36 of Above the Cloud. You can also view part of the discussion in this video.

Sound logos and beyond

A recent article in Design Week, makes the case for sonic branding as an increasingly vital way for brands to break through in an era of multitasking and short attention spans. And the nature of sonic branding is becoming more sophisticated and more fundamental to brand identity.

“You’re on your phone, your laptop is beside you and your fridge is telling you to stock up on milk — how do I get your attention? How do you cut through? Purely visual stimuli just won’t do it,” the article quotes Luc van Stiphout, head of music and brands at MassiveMusic, a sonic branding company based in Amsterdam.

Check out this example from Phillips, showing how some brands are taking sonic branding to a new level.


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