Some folks are skeptical of sonic branding when they’re first introduced to the subject. They want to know what kind of ROI is involved. They want some sort of magic number saying that a sound strategy will increase revenue by __%. Of course it’s not that simple. After all, what sort of ROI do you get from just having a visual identity? It’s not about the medium itself. You’re creating visual and auditory impressions whether you’ve branded your media or not. It’s about using best practices to get the most out of your media. As Studio Resonate’s Steve Keller puts it, we blend sound science with sound art to make sound decisions.
I started my career about twenty years ago in radio. Back then we had very little visibility in terms of what was working and what wasn’t. Efficacy and attribution were always notoriously difficult to measure. I’m happy to say that sound has come a long way in recent years. This is due not only to the advent of internet based audio media, but also the growth of audio media in general. These days we have, not only data, but agencies and tools dedicated to uncovering that data.
I’d like to share with you a few of those findings, revelations, and best practices to help set you on the right track when developing an audio identity.
☑ Find the Right Fit
Whether you’re building sonic branding guidelines, composing brand music, or even just selecting stock tracks for a new project, pick the music and sounds that suit your brand – not your personal tastes, or whatever happens to be trendy in the moment.
“Brands that use music that is aligned with the brand identity are 96% more likely to be remembered by the consumer than the brands that use ‘unfit’ music or no music at all.”
☑ Music is a Universal Language
The good news is studies show that genre is almost irrelevant in the branding and marketing world. Some brands will try to ascertain their target’s musical preferences, but SoundOut’s 2021 Audio Index showed that there is no significant connection between demographics and efficacy. Tailor the music to brand – not the customer.
According to IPSOS, commercials that use sonic branding cues perform eight times higher in recognition and attribution. But it’s not just commercials of course. Brand sound extends to so many other media and touchpoints. Think about your company’s phone automation. Most people never call their own business. And you can tell. The experience is usually pretty lousy. Or what about UX/UI sounds? If you’re a bank, and someone takes their money from the ATM, are they hearing a generic beep an engineer created, or are they hearing a branded sound that enhances the experience and ties it all together?
☑ Say Your Name
Traditional jingles have gone out of fashion in recent years. A lot of brands prefer to go voiceless with their audio cues, but the data doesn’t support this trend. In 2021, Veritonic found that nine of the top ten audio logos included the name of the brand. The one exception was Intel which has been going strong and steady for nearly thirty years now. And according to SoundOut, “Sonic logos that include the brand name are twice as effective at cementing brand association than those that do not.” And that takes us to…
☑ Be Melodic
According to Adsonica, singable and Melodic logos score 24% higher in recall. Makes sense. A good melody is not only catchy, but it’s remembered basically forever. But it goes further than that. A strong melody allows you to flex. If your melody is deep enough in the public consciousness, you can adapt it to different genres and moods. This was never more obvious than during the early days of COVID. More on that in the previous blog.
☑ Single Voice is Best
I’ve seen many advertisers over the years that insist on having multiple voices in their ad. Conventional wisdom would suggest that a single voice is more relatable and intimate, whereas multiple voices feel more like an interrogation. Fortunately in this case, wisdom is supported by the data. In 2019, Veritonic found that over 80% of the year’s top ads used a single voice.
☑ Don’t Whitewash Your Brand.
Let’s face it. Mainstream audio media is very white. This is very much a vestige of the dominance of traditional broadcast media in the 20th century, which was also very white. It doesn’t make much sense ethically, but fortunately it also doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint either. SXM Media and Studio Resonate conducted a large scale study that found “Ads using Black voice talent were judged more favourably by Black audiences, with no negative impacts on ad favourability or effectiveness with white consumers.”
If you’d like to get deeper on this subject, I recommend reading The Sonic Color Line by Jennifer Lynn Stover.
☑ Take Your Time
SoundOut found that longer audio logos are actually more effective than shorter ones. This is another case of trends going against the data. Everyone seems to be all about simplifying and streamlining these days. Streamlining certainly has its place, but memorable melodies take time. If you’re going to go minimalist with your branding, make sure you have the strength to do it. More on that here.
There’s a whole other dimension to your branding and advertising that are waiting to be explored.
Give us a shout to get the conversation started.