Let’s play a game. If someone mentions the following brands, what sound immediately comes to mind?
How long did it take you to think of State Farm? Probably not too long, because sound is the fastest human sense. In fact, sound elicits a hyper-fast human reaction—30 milliseconds faster than visual reaction. Our minds are trained to use that split-second advantage in establishing our emotional state and expectations of an associated brand, positive or negative.
Sound evokes memories, and when it is done authentically to your brand experience, people will remember it for years. Call it an “Audio Renaissance,” but if you reflect on how much life has changed in the past few years as many shifted to working from home, audio has infiltrated our habits more regularly.
With the growing popularity of sound-on platforms like TikTok and podcasts, brands are rapidly shifting their strategies to include audio as a main element. Research shows a 22% increase in brands launching audio identities for the first time in 2021 alone. This is beyond powerful when thinking of the connection you can make with your audience using sonic branding.
So what exactly is “Sonic Branding” and why is it so important?
Sonic or Audio branding refers to the sounds, jingles, songs, or specific voice of a brand, product, or service included in the branding strategy to help consumers make fast associations between the brand and the sound they hear. It has shown significant improvement in marketing strategies; stats show a 26% increase in brand awareness and a 46% increase in brand favorability. What’s more, an 86% correlation has been made between a reaction to a specific sound and a desire to return to that experience.
Here are 3 ways Sonic Branding can elevate your creative
1. Sound helps your brand personality and experience stand out
Is your brand full of humor? Or perhaps the serious type? Maybe it's more of the hero in situations. Either way, make sure your sound connects and amplifies your brand archetype, so the experience is cohesive and feels natural - similar to following a real person on a platform. Rising video ad formats such as Reels & Stories on Meta, TikTok, and Bumper Ads on Youtube offer advertising opportunities to develop your Brand’s Story and experience through Sound. In fact, YouTube discovered that more than 75% of measured audio ad campaigns helped increase brand awareness. Strategically incorporating sound into your marketing strategy amplifies your customers’ interaction with your brand and creates a more recognizable identity. Pro tip: TikTok has an Audio Library full of sound effects and songs that you can curate to amplify your brand personality.
2. Sound evokes emotion in people
Sound can actually elicit different moods! For example, in order to process music, studies show that we use the same parts of the brain that are also responsible for emotion and memory. On TikTok, people expect to be entertained using a quirky sound bite for humor, related to nostalgic sounds from their childhood, or to learn something new with sound that focuses on the experience. That's not just a song you picked for your next :06 ad, that's an entire human connection you're making!
Check out this example to hear how emotionally powerful sound can be: A study conducted in a liquor store showed the undeniable impact of sound on sales. On days they played French music overhead, 77% more French wine was sold. Sound altered the environment, ultimately affecting consumers' moods and shopping desires.
Sound effects can tap into emotional memory and create shortcuts in understanding what your brand is trying to communicate. Using popular sounds and songs in videos can be used to immediately grab attention, but be cautious not to jump on the bandwagon. Some songs become overused and cause users to skip through instead. Users associate the music/sounds with like videos and experiences, so be sure yours relates. All the more reason to customize your own song that is easily recognizable to be used by other creators, offering opportunities for remixing and playing with your brand experience!
3. Sound emphasizes your brand story and messaging
Sound has the ability to help you convey more than words or images can sometimes say. This is especially helpful when you have a limited amount of characters. You can use sound to give your story power and hook your audience into your narrative. 81% of listeners say they have taken action after hearing an audio ad during a podcast they enjoyed, with 41% saying they trust podcast ads more.
Sound is a language that helps us with storytelling. While sound can change the mood, set the pace, and make us laugh, or even scared; use silence to make your audience pay attention. Silence is so powerful, it allows the viewer to fill the space with their own thoughts. It can create tension, or provoke thought. But it needs its counterpart (loudness), and vice versa, to be effective. Ambiances are unique background sounds that transport you to a new location (ex. room tone, a busy market). They speak subconsciously to our brain and tell us what the temperature of the environment is like.
And don’t forget!
Be sure that Sonic Branding considers accessibility. Use closed captioning or transcripts, and pay attention to the accuracy of timing so they are not blocking any visuals and ensure the translation is correct. Also, consider adding integrative or standard audio descriptions to your script.
A huge benefit to audio is that it’s a flexible medium, especially in times like these with the world constantly changing around us. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to change and adapt a sound recording over reshooting video. Be sure your video design works well for sound-off as well, for all those who forgot headphones (been there, done that.)
Interested in thinking strategically about sound with your brand? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.