Sonic Branding - The Newest Marketing Tool

Sonic Branding - The Newest Marketing Tool

Sonic branding is the ‘science of sound’ and ‘art of music’ married into making a brand identity.

Sonic branding - also known as audio or acoustic branding is the use of music/sound to create an identity for a brand. It is a powerful tool used to reinforce brand identity. According to studies, it only takes 0.146 seconds for a person to react to sound. Certain notes and sounds evoke certain emotions and reactions when played. Sound branding is something that reaches out a customer's subconscious mind even though they might not be paying full attention. Unlike visual logos, that require a person's attention, sonic logos reach out to the consumer regardless of whether they are focusing on it or not. It works on the psychological principle of 'mere exposure effect' - a phenomenon where people tend to develop a preference for things that they are most familiar with. This effect was first researched and coined by Zajonc in the 1960s. There is a difference between ‘sound branding’ and ‘sonic branding’. Where sound branding refers to all the sounds created by a company, ‘Sonic branding’ is more specifically referring to the sound of a brand. Sonic branding is a single sound/jingle/mogo (or a sonic logo) that represent a company. Sonic logos have to be very meticulously created to represent a specific brand, just like the visual creation. They have to be catchy and consistent, while grabbing and retaining attention at the same time. They are created in a way so that the customers form emotional associations with the company's sound. An ad campaign can be based on existing music, but that doesn't create any long-term connection, flexibility or identifiability.
The use of sound to reinforce brand identity, just as you would certain colours or words.
That is how Rajeev Raja, the founder of BrandMusiq describes sonic branding. BrandMusiq is a well known name in the realm of designing and managing the sonic identity of a brand for greater engagement. They have worked with brands like Raymond, Myntra, HDFC Bank, Vistara Airlines and TATA Salt. According to Rajeev Raja, creating a brand's sonic identity comes in the following three steps. First, the brand discovery where the owners articulate the brand's vision, persona and values inside a structure. Second, the agency and brand gets together to create Sonic Moodboards where they present the outline of the sound in "sketches" to understand the 'zone of sound and instrumentation' that the 'brand can operate in which best reflects its persona and values'., The final process is the Mogoscape creation - where the sounds are finalised to create the sonic identity. India has played a tentative role in the sonic space. The growth in the sonic branding market hasn't been at par with global standards. BrandMusiq's project with Raymond's campaign - Complete man was one of the most recognisable campaigns. Compare it to the global scale where HBO's choir "aah" sound or McDonald's 'I'm lovin' it' is synonymous with the brands, India has been slow with building the right sonic identities of the brands.
Audio makes people feel things, and that's what makes it such a powerful medium for brands Matt Lieber, Giblet
BrandMusiq worked on one of India’s leading private life insurance companies - HDFC Life Insurance Company Limited's sonic identity (MOGO or Musical Logo) in 2015. It was also the first private life insurance company to launch a musical logo. It was based on the values of the brand - Shingara (love), Veera (courage), Shantha (Peace) . Its jingle 'Sar Utha Ke Jiyo', is a very well known mogo that became HDFC's sonic identity. While talking about the decision to opt for a musical logo, HDFC Life chief marketing officer Pankaj Gupta said: “We have always had a strong visual identity. With changing consumer habits, we realised that sound would play a critical role in creating brand recall, differentiation and engagement with our stakeholders." Earlier this year in February, even Mastercard released its own sonic branding—the identifying sound for consumers to recognise the brand while making purchases or watching their ad on television or radio. The whole development took over 18 months to create the sound for the brand that would reach out the global audience. They worked with various agencies, artists and musicians from across the world - including Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. Apart from just transaction audio (while purchasing in stores or online, or via voice-enabled devices), MasterCard also developed sounds for specific transactions like coffee-shop or taxis, along with 'tabla', 'playful' and the 'cinematic' versions of it. “The world around us is transforming at an incredible pace, impacting how consumers engage with everything around them, and that includes brands,” Mastercard's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer said, Raja Rajamannar said, "The latest example is the ascent of audio in our lives—hundreds of millions of people are already using smart speakers, and voice shopping alone is set to hit $40 billion by 2022.” With the market expanding in different directions, people are not only consuming content from a single screen or medium. 72% of millennials now prefer to spend their resources to buy experiences and not just material possessions. And with the growth of smart assistants (like Siri or OK Google) and voice enabled consumerism in the market, audio marketing is a revolution waiting to happen. Voice activated consumption has managed to breathe in new life into the recovery of the music industry. So it only seems fair that the next step in the evolution of branding and marketing also is to address this growing demand of the audience in their preferred medium of interaction - audio.  

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