The Importance of a Sonic Branding Strategy

For decades, brands have focused on their visual identity, establishing visual identities that appeal to their target market and help them stand out. Brands now have a unique lexicon and tone of voice, thanks to verbal identity.

Surprisingly, sound, one of the most potent forms of communication, is still an afterthought in brand communication. This is a white paper about sonic branding strategy.

Brands must ensure that every customer touchpoint delivers on brand values and promises in an environment where maximum effect and ROI are critical.

What if there was a low-cost solution to improve the brand experience that marketers couldn’t leverage?

But it exists – it surrounds us, impacting daily and minute-by-minute our moods and sensations.

SOUND.

Sound and music can evoke emotions in listeners. A sonic branding strategy may engage and entertain customers, provide information, help build good lifelong associations, and reinforce company values.

How does sound work?

Affect and memory

Emotion is the fundamental ingredient in establishing clear, long-lasting memories, and studies reveal that hearing is the most closely linked sense to emotion. We remember events and emotions more vividly when accompanied by sound or music than when they are not. Consider an ice cream van’s sound. A 99 flake is all it takes to make you feel “Summery” and nostalgic from two streets away.

It is also acknowledged that music enhances our emotional reaction to visual stimuli. Imagine watching a film without a soundtrack; the experience is lost. In a recent study*, psychologists at Zurich University* showed people joyful or sad visuals with or without audio. The results clearly showed that music enhanced the emotional experience when compared to photos exhibited alone.

Sound and music are also linked to pleasure in the brain. Listening activates the same brain regions as eating chocolate or having an orgasm!

Sound’s lexicon.

We all understand sound when it conveys information or emotion. Alarms, sirens, and sorrowful music are all universally recognized noises. This collective awareness of sounds and their meanings is called the “vocabulary of sound.”

Audio becomes a powerful medium of communication by utilizing this common lexicon. We can express emotion and mood better than any other language. We can employ known sounds and musical forms to express ideas, ensure that the listener will intuitively understand their meaning, and produce new sounds that align precisely with the listener’s awareness of the auditory environment.

Sonic identity creation

A brand’s aural identity is more than a clever jingle or audio logo. The key to a successful aural identity is a cross-platform sonic strategy. A complete sonic identity should be determined whether on TV, online, in a retail store, leisure or hospitality space, at experiential events, through instructional and navigational sounds, wayfinding, on-hold music, or product sonification.

A sound identity can have as much, if not more, impact on brand perception than a visual identity, for a fraction of the expense.

Understanding that sound can contaminate and improve an area is critical to building a solid and effective acoustic identity. To avoid an audio backfire, the type and frequency of sounds employed should be carefully considered. This science is used in sonic ergonomics’.

Ontology studies how we interact with products, systems, and environments. As part of any sonic branding strategy, it strives to promote usability, engagement, efficiency, and satisfaction.

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