Branding is no longer just visual. Sound is key for good branding. But how to make sonic branding work?
Humans are very sensitive to sounds and can instantly tell a positive sound from a negative one. Every sound has significance. Sounds have massive emotional impact on us, triggering instant memories and feelings. That has always been true. We now have voice-activated technology and sound-based internet access, so the sound a brand makes matters.
Growth in sonic branding
Influence magazine, Q1 2019, explains that research company Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30% of web use will not involve a screen. Therefore, brands need to develop an audio logo, just as they developed a visual one. It could involve a sound – like a bell chime or a few bars of music. They should reflect the organisation’s values and say something meaningful. The sonic brand must appeal to the target audience. Soothing, mellow music is good for a holiday brand, a synthetic sound would work for a technology company. If the sonic branding is used consistently, it will become the audio identity of the brand.
New sounds, new words
Sonic branding also needs words. It needs a tone of voice. For example, brands can create short podcasts that users can play on demand. Choose the gender and tone of voice carefully. Then choose a bespoke and distinctive vocabulary. Use specific terms for products and services. We all remember that Starbucks did this by introducing distinct words for types of coffee: flat and skinny.
Sonic branding is communication and it is a two-way process. Sonic branding must evolve and respond to users’ tastes and how they are using voice-activated search and their choice of words. Just as brands take note of keywords typed into a search engine, so brands must track the words spoken into a voice-activated internet tool.
Inspired by an article in Influence magazine, Q1 2019