Chances are, even if you don’t think you’ve heard of Sonic branding before, you already have. Every time you load up Microsoft Windows on your PC, every time you start a new Netflix episode, each time you ask Siri something? The sounds that you hear and associate with these brands and products are all examples of great sonic branding.
When it’s done right, this sonic signature has the ability to evoke emotions and create a strong, more memorable connection with users and customers. It’s an underrated part of any marketing toolkit, and we’re here today to explain what it is, why it’s so important, and how you can create your own sonic branding.
What is sonic branding?
Let’s start with an explanation of what sonic branding is. This type of branding can be referred to by many different phrases – a sound trademark, a sound logo, an audio logo, or a sonic signature. However you choose to name it, sonic branding is a type of trademark where sound is used to perform the trademark function, uniquely identifying a product or service. This video showcases some of the most iconic sonic branding over the years.
Why is sonic branding so important?
If you close your eyes and play the video above, you’d be surprised by just how many of the brands you can identify without seeing the logo or anything else. These are all great examples of highly successful, effective audio logos.
They’re a little bit like radio or company jingles. When you listen to a radio station, there’s often a catchy, iconic jingle that plays regularly, signaling to the listener that they’re tuning in to a specific radio station playing a specific type of music and shows. Similarly, when you watch a TV channel, you’ll see that logo all over the screen. With these cues, you know what you’re getting.
Sonic branding is very similar to how customers might feel when seeing specific colors, images, and logos – it’s a sonic signature that creates instant connotations and specific feelings around a certain brand or product. Companies will use an audio logo to make an instant impression that distinguishes their brand from competitors while conveying key information about the product or company. It’s almost like seeing with your ears.
Consider the latest trends on social media, too. Platforms like TikTok have changed the game in recent years, ensuring that videos are now created around specific sounds and songs. It’s these sounds and songs that now go viral.
The psychology of sonic branding
Of course, brands and companies aren’t just doing this for fun. Like any other aspect of marketing, there’s a very valid reason for creating a strong, identifiable sonic logo. Condensing many scientific papers down into a few sentences, studies have basically shown that our decision-making is made inside the non-rational part of our brains – the limbic system. This part of the brain instigates our behavioral and emotional responses, and it can be activated and aroused by music and sound.
Sounds tend to trigger emotions more than visuals do. You can confirm this yourself simply by watching a horror movie with the sound off. Suddenly, you’ll find that it’s not as scary.
Meanwhile, in a world where the internet is so densely saturated with content, a sound can help cut through and send a clearer message to the listener, grabbing attention and reinforcing your brand identity. If you have a sonic signature that correlates with your brand and message, studies have confirmed that this will improve the verbal memory of the audience, leading to better “brand recall” (the likelihood of someone remembering your brand, its products, and its services).
So, creating sonic branding clearly makes sense to any large company.
What makes a successful sonic brand?
Now that you know what sonic branding is, why it’s so important, and the psychology behind it, you start to understand what makes a specific sonic logo so effective.
When designing a good visual logo, there are three main rules that stand out: simplicity, memorability, and relevance. These same three rules can be applied to a sonic signature, too. You want your sonic branding to be simple, relevant to your brand, and very memorable. Here are a few top examples that showcase that:
McDonald’s — I’m lovin’ it
HBO intro HD
20th Century Fox Intro HD
These sonic logos are successful because they follow the three rules and have a number of elements working together. When it comes to creating your own sonic branding, you’ll want to pay close attention to these elements:
- Sound design
- Music composition
- Sound identity
How do you create a sonic signature?
There are many different ways to create your own audio branding these days. A quick Google search may reveal plenty of sonic branding companies in your area, who you could pay to help you create your perfect sonic logo. Alternatively, if you’re feeling a little brave, you can get creative and do it yourself! Whichever way you choose to go, you or your hired professionals are going to need assets. Those four elements of sound design, music composition, soundscapes, and sound identity.
Utilizing Artlist, you can find all of the assets necessary to create an iconic sonic signature. You can choose from thousands of different SFX, as well as soundscapes, songs, and plenty more. For example, you could narrow your search for a certain song down to a theme such as commercial or technology, then further tailor it to a variety of different moods.
Keep Movin’ Along (no lead vocals) by MILANO is a great example of an uplifting commercial song that’s very catchy. You can see how you might pull out certain sections of this and use them in an audio logo.
Meanwhile, the SFX library covers a vast array of sound effects. There are whooshes, impacts, glitches, and more.
Top tips for creating sonic branding
There’s no right or wrong way to create an audio signature, but these top tips are generally a good place to start.
Utilize your current logo and colors
If you already have an existing brand with a visual logo and colors, you should try and work with these. Colors evoke certain emotions, so draw from your palette. Remember that you want your sonic brand to fit seamlessly alongside all of your other branding.
Short and simple works best
Notice what all of the best sonic signatures have in common? They’re short and simple. For the best results, you’ll want to make sure yours is too.
Keep it light and upbeat
There aren’t that many sonic brands that use scary drones or creepy vibes, right? You want to ensure that your sonic logo is upbeat and makes your customers feel happy when they hear it.
Deliver a message
If you can, you want to ensure that your sonic branding tells your customers something about your brand. Look at including specific elements from your product or service in the audio.
So, that’s everything you need to know about sonic branding. Whether you realize it or not, audio signatures are everywhere, and they’re incredibly important for companies and brands all around the world. Now that you know what it is and understand the psychology of sonic branding, you can start creating your own!
Making use of the music and SFX readily available on Artlist, creating a unique, high-quality sonic brand has never been easier.