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Sonic Branding

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Sonic Logo

SONIC LOGO – PART 3

Audio branding is a powerful tool for companies and products to reinforce a brand or corporate identity. Successful companies like Twitter, Nike and McDonald’s are instantly recognisable through their blue bird, swoosh and golden arches icons. Like these icons, sonic logos are crafted to represent a brand, by taking a word or a concept and translating it into a sound.

Audio branding can build a soundscape which represents the identity and values of a brand or company. Music and sound are emotive and transcend language but still convey meaning with great clarity, so when designed successfully, sonic logos create implicit associations with companies and products in our minds. Strategically using sound to differentiate a brand or product can enhance recall and improve sales while creating a subconscious preference. Used in conjunction with visual cues, it is possible to create multi-sensory brand communication and brand design.

Sonic Brading isn’t just for big corporates

Sonic logos and audio branding aren’t just for huge, global brands. They can also be beneficial to small companies, helping them to make an impact on current and potential customers by increasing brand awareness and loyalty.

Like with any logo, when designing a sonic logo it is essential to first establish what the brand stands for. All different mediums used should reflect a consistent picture of the brand values a company wishes to convey in a distinctive manner. Successfully created logos generally consist of a core melody, voice or a unique sound effect or a combination of some sort, are usually only a few notes or beats in length and can be built to scale from stadiums to mobile devices by using various instrumentation.

Though sonic logos became popular through radio, the opportunities to use these have increased in recent years with the rising popularity of podcasts and new media, and devices with built-in audio delivery. When used correctly they can be incredibly effective, like Intel’s instantly recognisable 5 notes composed by Walter Werzowa.

McDonald’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE1B3N_a7fE

Intel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ihRPi4wcBY

The landscape of future media is changing rapidly

As the IoT (Internet of Things), along with smart home speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and many others, become more and more prominent in our everyday lives, it is necessary for brands to start future-proofing for a time that is less reliant on screens. When most devices offer visual cues, audio cues can seem superfluous and unnecessary. As virtual assistants like Alexa are becoming more popular there is a need for users to receive information without having to rely on visuals. Music and sounds can be more useful and less intrusive than voice. If the user knows the meaning, a simple note or sound can convey as much information as a full sentence.

Brands that want to remain current will need to create a sound landscape that is pleasant and useful to users and informs without distracting. This also extends to AR or MR (Augmented or Mixed reality), where sonic communication is overlaid on the top of the real world – a properly designed sonic logo and soundscape will trigger brand awareness in a user without visual branding is necessary. Furthermore, there is a significant uptake in immersive branding where global brands are enjoying a whole myriad of new tech enabling them to promote their products and services in VR (Virtual reality) or in 360 Videos. Within this media the sonic logo can be implemented in 3D as spatial audio, adding a whole new level of engagement.

As we enter a new age of emerging tech the opportunities to experiment with new formats of sonic branding will increase significantly and those who embrace this will enjoy a competitive advantage.

To find out more about the world of immersive audio or if you’re interested in designing a sonic asset for your brand please get in touch with us: contact@1618digital.com

Example of 1618 Digital’s own sonic logo: https://youtu.be/9Zc2UDy_2TY

For previous articles on sonic branding please visit our blog page.

1618 Digital Team

ASMR – The Feeling Of Sound

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, more commonly known as ASMR, is one of the most curious phenomenons to grace the science of sound whilst maintaining a vast audience all across the globe. Through the power of the internet and word of mouth, more and more people are actively looking for videos of people scratching microphones, tapping fingernails and softly whispering into extremely sensitive mics, giving its listeners a sensory response like no other.

Sometimes described as Brain Tingles, Brain Massages and Brain Orgasms, listening to different triggers results in a small euphoric sensation for those that experience ASMR. The epicentre of the tingles and shivers, with the effects travelling down the shoulders and back (and, in some cases, to limbs), gives a sense of relaxation and peacefulness which some researchers believe may have positive effects on health and wellbeing. Not everyone responds to the same triggers, and some don’t have the response at all.

This is theorised to be linked to the perceptions of closeness and elements of care associated with certain sounds and sensations, which we as humans react to in the same way a child reacts to being held close to their mother, her hand running through their hair with comfort. It makes us feel safe and secure, and less troubled by the world around us because we’ve shut it out to focus our attention on these sensory triggers. So for someone looking for a sense of relationship and being cared for, ASMR offers a form of respite from the lack of those feelings, even if only in the short-term. One only has to search ASMR into Google or YouTube to find a plethora of channels and videos made by ASMRtists, freely accessible for the public to use to their heart’s content.

From what is to be considered the very first ASMR video uploaded by WhisperingLife in 2009 to new content being created every week, videos have evolved and changed to become more and more immersive with role-play and effects, yet they still hold true to their initial intended purpose of audible stimulation. The production of these videos can be complex – props, costumes, camera and SFX being elements in some examples – but in its simplest form, they only require the soft satisfying sounds and a binaural microphone to be effective. This acts to split the audio recorded into stereo sound through your headphones – one microphone for each ear that gives the illusion of closeness and proximity as the source of sound moves around you in a 3D space.

Scientifically speaking, there a is very finite amount of research materials on the subject – the term ASMR was only recently coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, with the most prolific of research conducted by the ASMR University, run by Dr Craig Richard. But since its rising popularity online, more and more material is being produced in the aid of the scientific exploration of ASMR. Worldwide surveys, academic papers/pieces and books are just some of the examples of media exploring new angles from biological to social influence to the deconstruction and study of each individual aspect that comes together to create the trigger.

To find out more about ASMR with interviews from a variety of experts and creators, listen to our Immersive Audio Podcast episode about ASMR on iTunes and Soundcloud!

 

Exclusivity & Identity

SONIC BRANDING – PART 2

In this installment of our sonic branding series we will continue to discuss the concept of exclusivity, perceptual self-identity of a consumer in relation to a brand and purchase decision-making based on sonic branding strategy.

It’s hard not to agree with Jacob Lusensky’s statement from his book Sounds Like Branding – “Music makes brands and people feel special”. People express their identity through music, and so too should brands. Not by shouting over their competitors, but rather by targeting the relevant market segment efficiently with a minimum amount of ‘noise’ through a consistent, carefully chosen sonic branding strategy.

In fact, a lot of brands already have some form of sonic identity, though as it often turns out, this takes the form of a largely unintentional, semi-random legacy of music assets – be it a telephone sound chosen by an IT department, who certainly do not understand or care about the brand, or ‘cheesy’ generic library music chosen by a video editor who made an introduction video for the company several years ago, which does not have any substance or meaning in the context of this particular brand or its recent marketing campaigns. And the list goes on…

Driving memorability and brand awareness

Brands pay a great deal of attention and allocate funding to wording, reputation, legalities and visual aspects such as design, logos and trademarks, but rarely is the same degree of attention and care attributed to establishing a sonic identity. Hearing is a critical component of how we perceive the world around us, which sits deeply in our physiology and psychology and simply cannot be ignored. A study by Dr North and Dr Hargreaves  revealed that companies who have defined their sonic identity along with a music branding strategy are likely to be 96% more memorable when compared to businesses that do not have any music or sound associated with them, or those who are in possession of an incongruent legacy of sonic assets randomly accumulated over time.

With this in mind it’s little surprise that music and sound can be an effective way to create brand awareness. An appropriate strategy helps to create attention by engaging audiences in a conversation about music or an artist the brand is associated with. Big brands have huge budgets to make shortcuts by having endorsement deals with global superstars or featuring their well known hits, though the same principle can also apply with much smaller scale activations.

Some brands, for example Red Bull, approach their audio branding strategy differently. By nurturing and representing much smaller unknown talent through their music label and various endorsements across the brand promotion, their audience very much enjoys and appreciates the unified sense of community and identity.

The factor of exclusivity plays an important role here. Customers are unlikely to be thrilled by or feel emotionally connected to musical content that has been recycled. No doubt, existing library back catalogues could often be an efficient and affordable resource to tap into every now and then, but would audiences react in the same way to the John Lewis Christmas ads if they weren’t accompanied by a beautiful melody? When it comes to large scale campaigns music and sound should be as authentic and original as the message or story the brand is telling. The audience will notice and appreciate that this content is available only as part of this activation and for a limited time period – creating a sense of exclusivity and belonging in the eyes of your customers.

Any positive or negative connotations with a brand affect its public profile, and association through sound is no different. Selecting the right sounds, music and artists can help to establish the desired perception in the eyes of the public and reach out for the targeted demographic. This is why McDonald’s are unlikely to feature a Radiohead track in their next campaign, considering Thom York’s public condemnation of animal cruelty. Or on the contrary, Ray Winstone’s gangster persona with a cockney accent is the perfect voice fit for Bet365 betting agency. As G.J Gorn once said in his publication about the effect of music in advertising on choice behaviour:

“What a customer hears may make the difference when they’re choosing and not choosing your brand”

Context is everything

A customer’s overall perception of brand experience concerns aspects such as performance and customer service, both in person and via other channels. Deploying the right sound will advantageously tailor customers’ perception of a brand. For example, it would be highly inappropriate to play heavy metal songs in an expensive wine or jewellery shop, whereas classical music would be just right. The congruent use of music can not only increase perceptional quality of a brand but also influence customers’ perception of themselves. For example, by making them feel more affluent and able to purchase a more expensive product or service. In contrast, how many times have you found yourself in a situation where all you need is a quiet moment with a delicious cup of flat white and peaceful contemplation, but excessively loud and distorted pop music is  pumped through cheap speakers installed in the corner by the bathroom. This turns the moment into a highly unpleasant and stressful experience – quickly forcing us out.

At 1.618 Digital we employ a unique combination of sonic branding strategy and years of experience in sound design to develop a powerful sonic identity for your brand. Contact us today via contact@1618digital.com to find out more.

In the next installment of our sonic branding series we will continue by discussing the importance of a sonic logo and how it compliments its visual representation.

1.618 Digital Team