From catchy jingles to snappy sound effects, audio branding is a powerful yet surprisingly under-utilised form of marketing. Employing the use of audio content to stir emotions and create lasting recognition, audio branding is all about creating ear candy to boost business. 

But what exactly is this auditory phenomenon, how does it work, and should you be using it? Let’s find out. . .  

What is audio branding?

In a nutshell, it’s branding for your ears. 

Musical and auditory stimuli provide extremely powerful emotional cues. Whether it’s the sound of rain on a window, or an old song we listened to as children, certain sounds can strike very strong chords in us. 

With audio branding, companies are simply taking the inherent power of sound and using it to evoke responses of nostalgia, comfort, and familiarity in their customers. And they do this by creating signature sounds and jingles that audibly communicate their brand’s identity. 

Some businesses, in fact, have used audio branding to such success that their jingles are arguably as iconic as their logos.  

Take McDonald’s for instance. There’s no denying that their logo is a brilliant and wildly successful visual icon But you don’t need the golden arches to identify the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle. 

The other point to make about audio branding is that it’s a somewhat flexible art form. There are brand’s whose audio signature is a simple sound, just a few seconds long (Netflix, Skype). And there are brand’s who use employ fully orchestrated jingles (20th Century Fox). So there’s no hard rule. In fact, the only thing that really matters is that a piece of audio branding is distinctive, unique, and memorable

Is audio branding for you?

The question is whether audio branding is strictly reserved for the big corporates, or if smaller businesses can benefit from it too. 

In theory, everyone can benefit from audio branding. But what it really comes down to is how often a company would actually useit

Obviously, in order to benefit from audio branding a business needs some sort of audio presence. This would mainly come in the form of radio, television, or internet video ads. But in any of these mediums, a well though-out audio brand could be very impactful. 

If you do incorporate audio into any of your marketing material, then it’s probably worthwhile to consider your audio branding. After all, your audio signature will more than likely turn out to be one of the most recognisable aspects of your entire brand. So investing some time and money into its creation is a wise investment. 

In short, you might consider venturing into audio branding if:

  • Your competitors are beginning to utilise the medium.
  • You are planning to develop more audio-focussed content.
  • Your visual identity is already well established and you’re looking for ways to expand your brand. 
  • You want to create a well-rounded and diverse marketing strategy. 

How to establish an audio identity 

If you feel like audio branding might be an interesting avenue to explore, there are a few things to consider when approaching development.  

First, you’ll need to consider the nature of your brand. Is it youthful, energetic, calm, stylish, technological, or authoritative? The answer to this question will help to inform the type of soundscapes and tempos you can work with. For example, a light-hearted and fun brand may be more naturally suited to upbeat sounds and chirpy tunes. 

You can also look at what your competitors are doing to help in building your own sonic logo. By getting an idea of the audio brands that populate your industry, you’ll be able to extract essential elements whilst differentiating yourself enough to be unique

Also, it’s essential to think about longevity and consistency. Times change, and so do consumer tastes, but having an adaptable audio brand is key to long-term success. Much like visual branding, your audio signature should be flexible enough that it can be tweaked and changed over time without losing its basic essence.  

Examples of famous audio brands 

To give a flavour of the kind of work that’s already out there, here are a few examples of some of the best-known and most enduring audio brands and sound logos around. 

Intel

Sega

20th Century Fox

McDonald’s

Netflix

Skype

Branding beyond the ears

For more on the art of branding, why not take a look at our 3 top tips for sizzling summer branding, our top 4 branding tips for start-up businesses, or our take on the vegan branding revolution