What is Sonic Branding and Why Do You Need It?

Today's business market is crowded, and has been for quite some time. The barriers to business ownership are lower than ever with new entrepreneurs able to get their startup businesses off the ground using just their laptop and an internet connection.

Why does that matter? Well, for established brands it means markets are constantly being innovated, updated, and disrupted. Businesses face more pressure (and expense) than ever before to ensure that their branding distinguishes them from the competition, whilst still being able to acquire and retain customers.

When considering their brand identity, most marketers and business owners make the mistake of thinking a brand identity only entails visual cues like logos, distinct hues, and even the stylistic choices found in marketing materials. However, this isn't entirely true. Because in 2022, there's a new kid on the block: sonic branding.

Sonic branding, also known as sound branding, ensures that a business is heard as well as seen.

Wondering how on earth that works, and how to apply that to your own branding? Then you've come to the right place.

What is sonic branding?

Sonic branding refers to the production of a single jingle, or "sonic logo", that represents a business.

Though it's often confused with audio branding, sonic branding differs because it solely focuses on a few notes of one repetitive jingle - whilst audio branding focuses on all the sounds that your brand makes.

To put this into practice, strong sonic branding examples sound like the Ta Dum of the Netflix logo as it locks into place, and the do, doo doo do doo of the Intel logo.

On the other hand, comparison site GoCompare uses audio branding by having its entire advertisement, including its messaging, copy and proposition sung through an operatic rhyme.

Put simply, sonic branding makes sonic logos, which are short, sharp and instantly identifiable for a target audience.

The Benefits of Sonic Branding

Sonic branding helps brands immensely in the digital age. Having a sonic brand means having a new way to stand out ahead of competitors, and greatly enhances brand recognition.

Sound not only evokes emotion, it's also completely communicative because it's not hindered by things like linguistic, cultural, or visual barriers. Plus, human beings on average only take around 0.146 seconds to react to sound, which means a strong sonic brand can benefit from instantaneous communication and brand recall.

Not convinced? Here's a few more reasons why you need a sonic identity, like yesterday.

  1. Instant brand recognition
    We mentioned it above, but it's best to reiterate: today's market is an information overload for consumers. Clever visual identities are everywhere, and a consumer can have their head turned in a dime by the newest, flashiest visual branding.
  2. But with a sonic logo, you have a way to cut through the noise - literally. Your customers will be more likely to remember and recall your brand based on its jingle, and the best bit is they won't even need to be paying attention.
  3. Whereas they'd need to concentrate on a piece of visual branding, sonic branding can happen entirely in their subconscious whilst they're doing something else. And depending on how often they hear that particular sound, it's bound to eventually start evoking a bit of curiosity.
  4. Enhanced emotional response
    Brand sounds are powerful because they can communicate brand personality, all in just a few notes. A great example of this is the McDonald's sonic logo. Its "I'm lovin' it" sonic logo is flexible, adoptable across languages and cultures, and can even be remixed into a variety of different musical styles! It also conveys the playful, upbeat and optimistic brand personality which doubles down its effort to bring a smile to customers everywhere, and entice them to its stores.
  5. Specific sound effects when used as an emotional vehicle can humanise your brand, and communicate exactly who your brand is and what it stands for. Sometimes when we communicate with a brand entirely digitally, we lose that human connection. Sonic branding is capable of bringing that back to give your personality greater depth, nurturing deeper connection with your target audience.
  6. Concisely communicate purpose and values
    Sonic logos, no matter how short, are capable of conveying brand values and brand purpose.
  7. Music can simplify and communicate complex ideas in milliseconds. Take for example the Intel sonic logo we mentioned earlier. Just by listening to the notes consumers are aware that the company must deal in technology - evident by the way the jingle sounds similar to a computer startup chime. And voila: the brand purpose (technology) is communicated.
    Meanwhile EA Sports classic "it’s in the game" sonic logo easily communicated their brand values to consumers - most notably that their games were innovative and provided a high quality gaming experience.
  8. A strong sonic identity and the right sonic logo can help you to deliver a clear message quickly to your audience, which could make all the difference in a saturated market.

How to Create Your Sonic Logo

We're going to level with you: creating a sonic logo isn't easy. Just like any good branding, sonic branding takes time, testing, analysis and effort to get right.

Your sonic identity will need to speak on behalf of your brand, and because it will feature heavily wherever you choose to connect with your audience, whether at the end of a podcast for example, or on an advertisement, you'll need to ensure it's communicating the right message.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to morphing your own sounds into a strong sonic logo.

Take stock of your current sounds

Before you can figure out where you should take your sonic personality, you must first identify your current position. A sonic brand is comparable to a traditional brand. Whether or not you're actively developing your image, there's a  chance that you already have an audio identity in place (though of course many do not!).

For instance, if you create a podcast, it might be the music that plays in the background of your podcasts, or the words you say at the end of every video blog

Once you have a good understanding of your current sonic position, you can start to think about where you want to go with it. What kind of sound do you want your brand to have? Do you want it to be playful and upbeat, or more serious and professional?

The possibilities are endless, but it's important to stay true to your brand's identity.

Keep it short and simple

The beauty of a sonic logo is that it only needs to exist for just a few seconds. Any longer, and you risk your audience zoning out which means the logo will not be as memorable, and won't have the maximum effectiveness needed for instantaneous brand recognition.

When considering your sonic logo, also try to ensure that it doesn't use words. Instead, find a musical mnemonic that evokes a particular emotion in your target audience. A few seconds should be more than enough time for you to elicit the correct response.

Evoke emotions

As we mentioned above, you're ideally looking to evoke an emotional response in your audience. That means that your sonic logo must make your customers feel something. Your consumers don't want your business to be another source of meaningless noise. Your logo or tagline – the thing that will always go with your traditional logo – is where your attention should be when using sonic branding. Your sonic logo needs to make your audience feel the same way your core brand values do.

For extra effectiveness, try to make sure you're not using sound effects similar to competitors. This is quite an ask - many sounds are copyrighted and owned by similar companies, but if you can find something relevant and original, your chances of grabbing and keeping an audience's attention dramatically increase.

Work with a branding agency

Branding agencies (yes, like us!) are best placed to help with your sonic branding because we know a thing or two about branding strategies, which is where a sonic logo fits into. We can help you identify the kinds of things your brand is already making your audience feel, and we can test certain sound effects in line with that to see what triggers the best, or most memorable, audience response.

Sonic branding is hard to get right alone, but when you get it right - the rewards are endless, so it's well worth working with an agency who have years of branding experience under their belt.

Work with us

From brand strategy, to digital design, at Huddle we’ve done, tried, tested, and had success with it all. Use our free brand audit to find the missing pieces in your sonic design, or contact us and let us make your brand sing into the twenty first century.