If you can’t get that tune out of your head, someone probably wanted it there as sonic branding

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Sonic branding is a good PR strategy to employ. Why? Because having a tune that’s memorable will keep you in the minds of your audience and draw them in. It’s important to consider the sound quality that your company projects and what kind of clues the music gives to your brand, and this is part of public relations, because every touchpoint  and every experience that a potential customer, member of staff, or partner has with the company creates an impression, which can be managed through what they see, what they read, but also what they hear.

If your company is appearing in audio or video media, you’ll want to make use of sonic branding. When creating content for social media, whether it’s for TV, radio streaming, audio streaming, audiograms, and the like, a theme tune is something you have to think about. This could also be for a device that is complimented by a sound, something that reminds you that you’re about to use it, and that could become a reminder and let other people around you hear that tune. This is one way to increase the recognition and the recollection of the brand. An example of this would be the Intel Inside tune that you hear as you start up your Windows laptop. It’s a tune that’s hard to forget. When people enter a store, there could be an audible to greet customers. Another example is being placed on hold while on a call, which is an all too familiar occurrence for many people. It’s not new technology, as this has been around for a long time, but how many people are use that for their own call centers or customer care centers? 

Is sonic branding worthwhile for the company?

MasterCard believes so because in 2019, they spent $15 million on a new sonic brand. The iPhone originally had the default ringtone of the Marimba, but in 2017, they rebranded the default sound to Reflection. People can automatically tell that it’s an iPhone or that it’s a Samsung phone when they hear certain sounds, so there’s audio recognition. This then presents an opportunity to reflect on the company’s value and how it can be seen and heard in branding, on a website, on a call on hold, when people are entering the premises, and more. 

PHMG is a company in Manchester that creates audio and is a specialist in sonic branding, and they focus on the physiological and psychological connection between sound and emotion, that when people hear things, they have a connection to those sounds, which makes sense. There are certain emotions evoked when you hear a dog bark, a baby cry, a song okay. It reminds you of a particular time in your life, so there’s a connection between what people hear and what they think about at an emotional level, and this can be applied to sonic branding. 

One of PHMG’s clients is a company called American Flyers and, “They articulate the brand through a quiet confidence in their ability to educate and to inspire which is expressed in a light, nostalgic track that carries a strong feeling of pride and aviation history. The core melodies are carried by smooth horns to create uplifting, encouraging sound while in the background, the warm orchestral strings and the subtle drum flourishes suggest honest approachability. Altogether, this adds up to a decidedly cinematic track that evokes the feelings of the premier service American flight is known for.”

The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing or creating the sound of the brand, and PHMG is more than capable of assisting you with this. If you don’t have the budget for it, you can pay a minimal fee for a track in a sound library, or you can even use something like GarageBand and create your own. With that, think about sonic branding and the ways in which you communicate your brand. Especially if you’ve got a podcast or are doing audiograms, what can you do to make sound part of your communication strategy? Just don’t forget to make it relevant, and make it a part of your public relations campaign.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from Fabrik Brands

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