For most, advertisement tends to be identified as what is shown on TV or even the internet. On these two popular sources, each ad’s message will have their own visual marketing strategy to help propel a brand, but what if relying on audio can be just as effective? What if despite radio being slightly outdated in the 21st century, the influence of sound can still have significant impact on a company’s success? Here are a few things marketers should be mindful regarding sonic branding.
Realize the Underrated Value of Sonic Branding
Although many are not aware, Sonic branding has been around for quite some time. Retro gaming systems such as, Atari (created in 1972) and Sega Genesis (1989), each had their own unique ringtone that played in the background when starting up. But as simple as this process might seem, the idea was brilliant because its marketing effect was still very powerful:
Whenever the video game console turned on and the ringtone played — an ad was actually playing. In other words, instead of watching advertisement on TV, which is time limited and high-priced for companies, video game console owners were receiving the ad’s message, on a consistent basis, despite already having bought the gaming system; anytime owners heard the ringtone they thought of the game console, as a result of consistent gameplay and the positive experience it brought.
Obviously, these are two examples of company products that were ubiquitous around the world and immensely popular, but the marketing technique can still have a similar effect, regardless of the merchandise used, due to the brand’s sound still being idiosyncratic and no else being able to use it.
Consider Using Skeuomorphism in Audio
Skeuomorphism is defined as “the design concept of making items represented resemble their real-world counterparts.” A good example, as Interaction Design Foundation points out, is “the recycle bin icon used for discarding files. Skeuomorphism makes interface objects familiar to users by using concepts they recognize.”
By using realistic elements, while audio branding, companies can use familiarity to attract customers since there will be a sense of closeness and comfort upon hearing the sound.
Avoid Replicating Sound Ideas
There have been thousands of successful companies known for their sound trademarks such as, PlayStation, Netflix, Windows, T-Mobile, McDonald’s, and many more. Despite their success stemming from how great their products have been throughout the years, each of them also had individuality; every company has a specific trademark that separates them from one another and allows customers to identify them instantly.
Being original is important when showcasing your company. Not only will the approach demand respect for its hard work and authenticity when creating content ideas, but there won’t be any copyright issues to worry about.
Acknowledge the Factor Psychology Plays
Every individual’s past experiences have shaped them into the person they are now and, as many are aware, these personal experiences revolve heavily around emotion. But what exactly is the correlation between sound and emotion?
According to Bright Audiology, as a result of evaluative conditioning in the stimulus, “people frequently associate sounds with certain emotions based on the circumstance in which the sound was heard. For instance, listening to a song previously played on your wedding day may give you feelings of joy, while the same song first listened to by someone during a bad breakup may create the opposite feelings of sadness.” Basically, the human brain associates/matches sounds with familiar objects, places, and people of the past.
All that said, regardless if every individual’s emotion varies on sound, the sound effect being used, whether it’s negative or positive, can still play a factor in determining one’s emotional state. For example, the sounds of nature (e.g. waterfalls, birds chirping) will likely be soothing for most listeners and likewise, hearing gloomy music in movies will lead to audiences feeling a character’s sadness.
In relation to sonic branding, however, the psychological impact can be advantageous for marketers: By creating the correct sound, reaching a targeted audience will become much easier since there will be an emotional connection; the sound will be sent to the customer’s limbic system, which is responsible for controlling emotions.
Suggestions to Use As Guidance While Brainstorming
1) Use Melodies: Drum loops, bells ringing, piano keys playing, violin tuning. These are all well-known tunes. Create a melody that is short, unique, but that will also catch the listener’s attention.
2) Make a sound that resonates with audiences: When a sound or an object is able to become humanized — it can no longer be easily dismissed.
3) Evaluate colors and signature logos: For every company’s logo and colors shown, there was effort and cogitation placed in choosing every detail. These details are meant to represent a message to its audience, so one must ask themselves: if the message could literally be heard, what would it sound like?