For many years, businesses large and small that used radio and television ads to reach their target audience created specific sounds or jingles that customers came to recognize and associate with the brand.
However, sonic branding is becoming even more important today as more consumers start to use smart speaker technology and other household items get connected to and become part of the Internet of Things (IoT.)
And, when you factor in the already almost ubiquitous use of smartphones, there are even more opportunities for brands to use sound in their marketing efforts.
Therefore, it is not surprising that many businesses are starting to realize that they need to think about what their brand sounds like.
Sound as Shorthand for the Brand
As mentioned, businesses have used sound to create a connection between the brand and consumers for years in their radio and television advertising.
However, many businesses that haven’t made the investment in radio or television have often overlooked the powerful impact that sound has on consumers.
This is changing quickly as technology evolves.
As more transactions become automated in the future, tones can be used to communicate with consumers to let them know that they had an interaction with the brand without blatantly announcing it. This keeps the brand top of mind with the consumer.
Sonic branding can even provide some peace of mind to the customer by reminding them that they are dealing with a trusted business.
Mastercard Debuts Its Sonic Brand Identity
When it debuted its new signature sound in early February 2019 Mastercard joined many other brands, including one of its direct competitors, Visa, in creating a sonic identity developed specifically for the new connected world of the 21st century.
According to their press release, “Mastercard tapped musicians, artists and agencies from across the globe, including musical innovator Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park.”
“What I love most about the Mastercard melody, is just how flexible and adaptable it is across genres and cultures,” said Mike Shinoda. “It’s great to see a big brand expressing themselves through music to strengthen their connection to people.”
“Audio makes people feel things, and that’s what makes it such a powerful medium for brands,” said Matt Lieber, Cofounder and President, Gimlet. “With the explosion of podcasts, music streaming, and smart speakers, an audio strategy is no longer a “nice-to-have” for brands – it’s a necessity. A sonic identity – the audio calling card for a brand – is now just as important as a brand’s visual identity.”
Additional Strategic Considerations
As mentioned earlier, many businesses have overlooked sound as a way to connect to their potential customers.
Does this mean that all brands that aren’t using sound in their marketing efforts need to spend millions of dollars to develop a new sonic identity?
As with all business decisions, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
For some businesses, sonic branding might not makes sense at all.
Jumping into sonic branding also doesn’t mean that brands should forget about visual branding. For maximum effect, both should work in concert with the other.
It is also important to note that brands might not get it right the first time. This is something that Mercedes-Benz learned the hard way.
And, as time goes on, there is also a possibility that we get a sort of sonic branding overload or sonic branding fatigue if too many businesses start using sound in this way.
That said, being among the first to create a sonic identity could help establish a deeper connection with consumers.
Photo credit: Tony Steward on Flickr.
Video credit: Mastercard News on YouTube.