**Guest Post by Olivia Wood of The Writer’s Guild**

When you hear “branding,” what comes to mind? If it’s a logo, a font, and a color scheme, you’re not totally wrong, but you are potentially missing a trick. These days, brand expression is a full sensory experience: that means businesses aren’t just developing visuals; they’re using sound to make an impact.

This audio-based approach is called sonic branding, and it’s currently being claimed as the future of marketing. But what does sonic branding really sound like, and does your business need it? Read on to learn more about the phenomenon that’s making noise in the marketing world.

 

What Is Sonic Branding?

Sonic branding is an approach to building a brand identity that focuses on the use of music and sounds. Visual branding uses imagery to connect with the customer, so sonic branding uses audio to make an impression. This isn’t an “either/or” situation, though; it’s not that businesses now choose to build a sonic brand instead of a visual one. Sonic branding is used to bring greater depth to brand identity. When you think about it, this makes sense: we all know how impactful and emotive music can be. Imagine the power of being able to provoke that emotional response in your customer
base!

 

The Evolution Of Sonic Branding

Sonic branding isn’t a new concept, of course. From as early as the 1920s, brands have been using radio jingles to remain at the forefront of their customers’ minds. In fact, the term sonic branding came from a French radio expert who noticed in the 1980s that adverts using branded sound elements were generally more successful.

Sonic branding really took off as tech companies competed to connect with potential customers. Can you remember the triumphant trumpet that sounded as you launched Windows in the 1990s? Or perhaps you recall the iconic ringtone of those early Nokia cellphones? If so, that’s successful sonic branding.

 

The Psychology Of Sound

It might surprise you to realize the impression that sonic branding has made on you over the years. The familiarity of certain sounds and the nostalgia it provokes can be deeply ingrained.

To understand how this phenomenon works, you must first understand Pavlov’s experiments and his dogs, believe it or not! During his studies, Pavlov noticed that dogs didn’t just salivate when they saw food in front of them; they also salivated when they heard sounds they had learned to associate with food.

Over time, if he made these sounds before he fed the dogs, they would trigger the same reactions as seeing the food itself.

Sonic branding builds on this idea as we are conditioned to associate sounds with certain experiences. Such as hearing the “I’m loving it” jingle could be enough to stimulate cravings for a Big Mac?

 

Where Could Your Business Use Sonic Branding?

Of course, sonic branding isn’t limited to radio jingles anymore. While crafting your business’ sound strategy, you may consider how you can use your branded materials in podcasts, on devices that you produce, and even as hold music for your contact centers.

If you’re wondering whether sonic branding is necessary for your business, consider the cohesion it could bring to your marketing content. Audiovisual content is a powerful and effective marketing tool, one that every business – yes, even small ones — should be exploiting in 2021. That means every business could potentially benefit from sonic branding!

 

How Can Sound Convey Your Brand?

So, you’ve decided to pursue sonic branding. Where do you start? First, you should undertake a brand audit. It would help if you defined what your brand is so you can communicate this through sound. Some questions to ask yourself might include:

  • What is the purpose of my business?
  • How does my business address its audience?
  • How do I want my customers to feel?

You’re well equipped to approach an audio producer or sonic branding expert to manifest your vision with this information. Remember to test your sonic branding with your target audience prior to the launch! You want to ensure that the sound sends the right message (and doesn’t annoy people) before you commit.

Now you know what sonic branding is and how it can deepen your brand to build a stronger sense of connection with your customers. Sound is undoubtedly a powerful medium, so why not use it to the benefit of your business? The future of marketing will be heard as well as seen!

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