All of us have fond memories of advertisements from our childhood. Somehow if you were fond of a particular advertisement, you became a consumer of the product. The ‘ting ting ti-ting’ sound immediately reminds you of Britannia products. Brands like Airtel, the iPhone tune, the Mario Bros video game etc have created a strong recall value through the sounds used. Thanks to the advent of video apps on phones, companies have moved to online, offline and other mediums for branding. Sound is starting to play a prominent role due to the speed with which it helps in capturing the audience’s attention and ‘establish’ the brand in people’s mind. The notifications, alerts on apps, start-up tones on phones and even your washing machines are sounds with which one identifies instantly. This is now the age of Sonic Branding.
So what is sonic branding?
“The cornerstone of every brand is building trust and loyalty. These are typically achieved over a period of time. To that end, sound plays a crucial role. A sound association grows with the customer and gets indelibly printed in their memories, even as brands go through changes in visual identities. The perception that one creates in the consumers mind about a brand defines the life and journey of the brand. Amongst all other brand assets that one creates ‘sound’ is the only way by which a brand can connect ‘emotionally’ with its customers and thus build a relationship,” explained Viveick Rajagopalan, partner SUNOH, Brand Sound Consultants.
SUNOH is a prominent sonic branding firm with major companies like Yahoo Cricket and Gulliver’s Travel in their portfolio.
Sound and recall value
Sound is subliminal to the human experience. Music is a subset of sound, it is a bridge between sound and people. There is a certain science to music. When a major scale is played, people react to it happily. On the contrary a minor scale makes one feel melancholic. The Indian classical masters knew it hence we have ragas for different times of the day. Certain combination of notes can create different moods. When you hear a set of notes which are set according to the DNA of the brand, overtime the subliminal connections in your mind will remind you about the brand. A prime example being the Nokia phone start-up tone.
“There is a clear co-relation between music and mood. It is important to know the anatomy of the brand. It’s called brand discovery. Then we explore the soundscapes or sonic mood boards that express the basic nature of the brand. One has to match the science of music with the DNA of the brand. Once it matches it becomes like a thumb print of the brand,” opined Rajeev Raja, founder Brandmusiq.
Through his company, Rajeev has worked with brands from different facets of the market like Raymonds, HDFC, Vistara, Myntra among others.
Importance of sonic branding
Audio and streaming, in particular, have gained rapid strides in the recent past. Each platform or brand now needs a unique recall value which sound offers. With its ever increasing popularity, sonic branding is going to be more significant than ever. Many brands are reaping in the first movers advantage.
“You have to think of a brand as a person wanting to be omnipresent. Which is to say – it is the same brand but experienced in different places, at different times, in different forms. With consistency being the key, a brand’s sound can be used for integrating into adverts across mediums, including TV, radio, apps and all other points of engagement. Basically sound is never used directly in a ‘marketing’ strategy, but it is an essential part of every tool used for marketing,” asserted Aishwarya Natarajan, partner SUNOH, Brand Sound Consultants.
The Sonic Logo
Earlier to capture the attention of the end consumer or create a recall, a brand would run a 10-30 seconds advertisement. Branding is now getting increasingly invisible as many mediums, like apps, cannot have extensive visual branding. It is about the unique sound of the product which is critical to business delivery today. A sonic logo is the signature sound of the brand. Just like a regular signature, which is a short and effective form of representing oneself, a sound/sonic signature is in principle the same.
“Just a single, unique sound, which after being used over a number of times, is enough to create and build a brand association. A sound signature carries the essence of a brand and stamps every communication a brand uses, with it. Being musicians certainly helped us in taking a more left and right brain approach and coming out more balanced at the end. It was and is challenging. This is a very new area and lot of studying and research was involved and is still involved,” asserted Viveick.
Adding to Viveick, Rajeev said,
“At Brandmusiq, we have created the ‘Mogo’ which is a 3 second long musical logo. A Mogo is the shortest distance between the brand and a consumer’s heart. We have created ‘Mini Mogo’ which is 1.5 seconds for app notifications. It is our trade mark and has become a worldwide nomenclature.”
Sonic branding is soon turning into the audio equivalent of a brand’s username. With the ever increasing apps, smart speakers, expanding gaming market, smart electronic devices its importance cannot be undermined. Major brands are all experimenting with voice-controlled assistants. All this coupled with the rise of music streaming apps, number of radio consumers, podcasts gaining popularity, the introduction of mobile voice assistants and more, the sonic branding space is expanding at a meteoric speed.
“Sonic branding is also taking newer meanings in what it can offer a brand and we believe it’s role is only going to get bigger, because of the sheer competition, fight for real estate (digital or physical), new technologies and a generally over crowded, loud marketplace. Intelligently crafted sound solutions can pave the way for brands to engage better,” opined Aishwarya.