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Audio Branding: The Power of Sound

by Kim Garmon Hummel

As an audiophile, who also happens to be a musician, I'm especially excited to delve into the way a brand sounds. While audio branding is too often an afterthought, it shouldn't be. The Harvard Business Review deemed it to be an incredibly "powerful branding tool that has been generally overlooked or perhaps undervalued."

So, while most brands don't leverage the power of sound, larger brands have been using sound to tickle our subconscious and remain memorable for a very long time. Cue the Green Giant and childhood memories of mushy, lukewarm asparagus. Anybody else—or was that just me? 

What Is Audio Branding?

Audio branding, also known as sonic branding, is the intentional and repeated use of sound by a brand. It is both a representation and reinforcement of your brand, its values, its promise, and its personality. In the same way that your logo is a visual communication tool for your brand, your audio logo is an auditory communication tool. In a world saturated with visual stimulation, the sound of your brand can provide a powerful boost to your visual elements. Neuro-Insight published a study that showed how the combination of visual and auditory branding delivered, on average, 14% higher memorability.

Why Is Sound Powerful?

Neurologists and psychologists have been studying the effects of sound on the human brain for years.

1. Sound is incredibly efficient

We can respond to sounds up to 100 times faster than we can to visual images! It's how our brains are wired. 

Additionally, your ears never stop receiving auditory stimuli. Even when you’re asleep, you can still hear the what's happening around you. Ever fall asleep with the T.V. on and wake up remembering a strange dream about unicorns and Stephen Colbert? (No? Oh, me neither.

Neurologists have found that the noise that comes through our ears will actually remain in our minds for almost five seconds before it begins to fade.


2. Sound is visceral

We don’t just process sound with our brains–– we feel it! Sometimes it even causes goosebumps or tears. Studies have even shown that music elicits a more emotional response than visual stimuli.

One of my favorite TEDx conversations is by by Hauke Egermann on how human emotion is influenced by music:

Not only do we feel sound, but it also triggers memories that are tied to our emotions, which means sound can greatly influence the mood of the listener. 

Why Do Brands Use Sound?

1. To leverage the natural wiring of the human brain to foster a strong, often subconscious connection with its audience.

2. To impact customer mood and purchase decision.

Using a combination of elements to communicate to all our senses is impactful, but communication through sound is special because it "produces additional layers of emotional response that still imagery cannot reproduce."

When paired with consistency in the messaging and emotional relevance to the brand, the sound becomes so powerfully associated with your brand that it can be played by itself and the listener knows it belongs to your brand, and if your brand is McDonald's, the listener also wants an order of fries.

In order to elicit recall and recognition, you have to choose the right sound elements to represent your brand and compel your audience. Studies show audio logos that fall into the range of 5-7 notes are the most successful in terms of sticking recall and recognition. Think McDonald's, Intel, or T-Mobile — all of their audio logos are five notes.

Veritonic conducted a study in 2016 pinpointing the Top 10 Most Recognizable Brand Audio Logos. (I apologize in advance for whichever of these becomes your ear worm for the next few days.)

  1. Nationwide
  2. Farmers Insurance
  3. Intel — this audio logo is recognized by over 90% of the world!
  4. Green Giant
  5. Hot Pockets
  6. McDonald's
  7. Chevy
  8. Folgers
  9. Statefarm
  10. T-Mobile

Did you notice most of these are around 5-7 notes?

Related: Why Is Audio Branding So Important? How To Improve The Customer Experience And Boost Your Brand Sentiment

Ready to Leverage the Power of Sound?

Developing an audio logo may not be the next logical step for your company, but it's definitely worth it to consider the auditory associations you're already fostering and begin to be more intentional about leveraging these opportunities for brand recognition. 

Your brand is always conveying something to your audience—whether good or bad—so make sure you're being strategic in the message you're sending. Team Sauce is here to help you build a holistic strategy that will turn your business into a revenue-generating machine. Ready to #GrowSmarter? Schedule a connect call with a Certified Growth Guide to see if we're the agency you're looking for!

Are you ready to #GrowSmarter? Schedule a risk-free call with a Growth Guide today!




Topics:BrandingCustomer ExperienceBrands That BeckonRead

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