Sonic Branding Connects With Consumers at the Speed of Sound

The crunch of a potato chip, the spritz of a perfume bottle, the sizzle of a burger on the grill — ahh, the sweet sounds of marketing success. These small audio cues create a link between a product and a sensation in our brain, offering brands a creative way to better connect with consumers that many may have never considered. Are you listening?

When you hear Netflix’s signature “ta-dum” you know it’s time to snuggle in and watch a movie. Microsoft’s chipper startup sound means it’s time to log in and get to work. And when you hear McDonald’s “ba da ba ba ba” you can’t help but sing “I’m lovin’ it.”

These small audio cues are known as sonic logos. A sonic logo is a short, catchy burst of audio representing a certain brand — like a visual logo, but for your ears. It can be used with a brand’s visual logo to strengthen brand recognition or stand on its own in a radio or podcast ad.

And sonic branding goes beyond a traditional jingle — Mastercard’s 1.3-second melody is not only present in all of the company’s ads, but also at millions of physical and digital touchpoints to signify that the card has been accepted. This little tune provides a sense of certainty and satisfaction, which is linked with the brand in the consumer’s mind. Cha-ching! Another successful purchase for you and another successful win for Mastercard. 

Sonic branding can create a multi-sensory experience that is not only memorable but also drives consumer engagement and loyalty. A brand isn’t just a brand — it’s an experience. From Amazon’s Alexa voice to Gucci’s in-store playlist, audio assets are essential to brand identity. Sensory branding involves sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell to engage with consumers in meaningful ways. And research shows that it really works. 

Sonic brand cues are almost nine times more likely to deliver a high-performing ad, and brands that use music matching their brand identity are 96% more likely to be recalled. In such an oversaturated market, the best way to cut through the noise is to engage consumers’ emotions by stimulating multiple senses at once. 

Take this Dunkin’ Donuts campaign in South Korea: When a company jingle was played over the speakers on municipal buses, an atomizer released a coffee aroma. The campaign increased visits to Dunkin’ Donuts outlets near bus stops by 16% and sales at those outlets by 29%. 

Advertisers like Plan B realize the power of psychology when it comes to human desire and product selling. With endless innovation in digital marketing, brands now have the opportunity to utilize that knowledge to engage with consumers in new ways. 

By combining multi-sensory advertising with digital, Coca-Cola partnered with Shazam to create a whole new ad experience. When consumers “Shazammed” Coke’s TV commercial, they could see and hear Coke Zero being poured right into their phones. Mmm, now are you craving a nice cold soda? Good news! Each interaction ended with an offer for a free Coke Zero that could be redeemed in stores, resulting in sales of over 4,000 Coke Zeros in just two days. 

Audio-based ads are highly adaptable for TV, radio, and social sharing, like this new campaign from Dunkin’ Donuts based solely upon sound to promote their iced beverages. The commercial entitled “Sounds Good” features customers shaking their iced drinks to culminate in the song of the summer. An iced coffee sounds pretty good right about now, huh? 

These bits of sound are replacing full-length jingles because they are more adaptable across platforms with bite-sized content, like Tiktok or Instagram Reels. They could also be an indicator of our shrinking attention spans (which some sources say has now dropped to just 8 seconds – yikes!). Going back to our roots of basic human psychology could be the answer to meaningful, lasting connections in today’s hectic media world. 

Do you have a favorite sonic logo or memorable multisensory marketing campaign? Sound off in the comments below!

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