Sonic branding — the two words etched onto the agendas of seemingly every marketer on the face of planet Earth, right now.

But what do these two words really mean and most important, what do they mean for you and your brand?

The sonic rat-race has been propelled by the rise of voice, Alexa, connected tech, and the reality that consumers are turning ads off.

As a consequence, marketers are being forced to find their audiences in new places; the places our ears can reach but our eyes can’t always see. And as such, things are getting seriously sensory. Just before, we’ve seen Mastercard go so far as to release their very own brand ’taste’ which follows the launch of their audio identity earlier this year — designed to be a powerful auditory identifier in the experience economy.

This is progressive stuff. But most brands, beginning their foray into the world of sound, start off with briefs that still commonly reference I’m Lovin’ It and the Intel Bong.

On the surface, it may appear that there’s something of a disconnect emerging here. Fresh, bold, sensory thinking on the one hand, versus what many call the age-old advertising jingle and audio logo on the other.

The first thing to say is that one isn’t ‘better’ than the other and no such disconnect need exists.

The best sonic brands are creative solutions to business challenges.

For Mastercard and its chief marketing and communications officer, Raja Rajamannar, that happens to be a holistic sensory experience that reminds audiences of ‘Priceless’ whenever the brand achieves any one of the one million experiential activations it has set out to deliver across the year. It’s their way of making sure you know it was Mastercard who made your day that tiny bit better. And you don’t even need to be able to see their visual logo to do so.

But for other businesses, a more traditional sonic identity in the form of an audio logo can be a powerful driver of distinctive brand recall; helping clients gain competitive advantage in saturated marketplaces through one of the world’s most impressive, yet often under-utilized branding devices.

To put it in context, when we’re up on stage preaching our sonic mission, I’ll often play audiences the first three seconds of a solo drum groove with no context whatsoever.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you could be in Timbuktu, the room will unanimously tell you it’s Billie Jean. Not only does this elegantly exemplify music’s power to instantly identify, but it shines a light on that amazing part of our human psychology. The part of our brains that stores these things away, sometimes for years at a time, and can reignite our memories in a flash.

What brand wouldn’t want to harness that power?

So simply put and in truth, sonic branding is about taking control of music and sound in the same way you would with any other facet of your brand architecture. Pretty much every brand on planet Earth sounds in one form or another.

The first step you need to take to play in the world of sonic branding is to acknowledge that fact and start by thinking about what music and sound could do for you.

Image source: Free To Use Sounds