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?
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: