Do You Really Need Sonic Branding?

Mogo from

Cue the chimes…

NBC chimes

Sonic branding, aka audio branding, sound branding, or acoustic branding, is the use of sound to add to the branding of your company. The NBC chimes were first developed in 1927 as seven notes, but trimmed to the iconic three notes in the early 30s. Sonic branding is certainly not new!

Other examples of sonic branding are are found in tv and radio commercials, podcasts, videos, heck, even professional baseball players have their own “walk-up” music as they approach home plate for an at-bat.

For years, United Airlines has used Rhapsody in Blue in their advertising.

United Airlines Rhapsody in Blue

Sonic branding fills our days with sounds, sound effects, jingles, and other music that are an important part of establishing and maintaining brand identity. Sound is more than audio vibrations carried to our ears, sound also carries emotion.

Studies have shown that we make decisions emotionally and then we rationalize them. Sonic branding captures our attention, triggers emotion, and improves brand recall. Just as color psychology teaches us that different colors trigger different emotions, so do different sounds trigger different emotions.

Listen to the music of Guts and Glory:

Guts and Glory music

What did you feel as you listened? How did it move you emotionally? Big brands take sonic branding very seriously. Shouldn’t you?

Do you have a sonic logo? Here’s one you likely can recognize.

Intel sonic branding

Maybe Intel’s sonic branding isn’t as ubiquitous as the NBC chimes, but give it 90 years.

Here’s the music that introduces my podcast each week:

Scott Holmes “Teamwork”

I spent a fair amount of time choosing that music. It’s royalty free and it sets the mood that I want for my podcast. My podcast in itself is part of my sonic branding, along with my YouTube videos.

The power of sonic branding goes deeper than nearly every other aspect of your business or personal branding. Not only that, it’s affordable. A royalty-free song costs you nothing. A podcast is very inexpensive. Sonic branding through YouTube or other sources that use audio can also be inexpensive.

Your sonic branding can be one of the best ways to differentiate your business from your competitors. This is what MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar said about sonic branding:

The key thing is how do you get into the space of consumers without annoying them. We feel that it requires a lot of thoughtfulness, a lot of focus and investment, as opposed to screaming in people’s faces. And you have to do it ubiquitously across all your touchpoints, you cannot do it in one or two places. We’ll see which brands have this staying power, not financially but in terms of strategy.”

So, if you haven’t started thinking about your sonic branding, isn’t it time to start?

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