Brand style guides are traditionally visual. When brand interactions are increasingly screenless, how do brands stand out? How do brands show their identity in a world of sound?
Several brands have recently announced new sonic branding strategies in the last year, including HSBC, Coca-Cola, and MasterCard.
MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar said that agencies asked if he “was smoking something” when he first shared a brief to develop a brand identity without visuals. But after two years of development with musicians and branding experts, they recently introduced a whole new sound identity that will be part of how the brand communicates at every touchpoint, online and offline.
Here’s an example in a retail situation:
There’s a potential tidal wave of audio branding coming. Even Gary Vaynerchuk announced that he created his own personal sonic brand identity that he wants people to associate with him.
When every other brand (and GaryVee) is jostling to define a unique audio identity, how will individual brands stand out? At worst, there could be a cacophony of sound. You can’t break through the clutter by adding to it.
Audio branding will have mean more that a “Mogo” — a sound repeated over and over in the hope that people eventually associate it with your brand.
Raja had some useful perspective when he unveiled the MasterCard audio brand identity:
“Will more brands jump into this? Yes, particularly if they see one brand do it successfully. The key thing is how do you get into the space of consumers without annoying them. We feel that it requires a lot of thoughtfulness, a lot of focus and investment, as opposed to screaming in people’s faces. And you have to do it ubiquitously across all your touchpoints, you cannot do it in one or two places. We’ll see which brands have this staying power, not financially but in terms of strategy.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
6 CommentsJoin the Discussion
I hate sound that I don’t ask for. I don’t have speakers on my PC. If I want to listen to something, I have to plug-in headphones. That keeps websites from assaulting me with unwanted sounds.
And when I go into stores with their awful music, I sometimes put in foam earplugs to damper this annoying and distracting intrusion.
I feel like McDonald’s have been doing this already for the longest time with their “I’m loving it” campaign. Even just reading you most likely whistled or hummed the melody they now tag at the end of all their advertising without even having to say the phrase anymore.
Rajeev Raja says
Loved your sonic branding piece, especially the use of the word MOGO®.
FYI it was a term I created when i started my sonic branding agency, BrandMusiq. It’s fantastic to see the word becoming popular.
Founder & Soundsmith,
Maybe I am showing my age but didn’t we used to call these “Jingles”! They definitely used to get stuck in your head.
William Axtell says
Interesting…but is this really new? Isn’t this just the “jingle” coming into the 21st century?
I have the sound on my laptop permanently muted