Audio logos, jingles, soundbites and sonic trademarks: seconds of sounds that can lead consumers to remember businesses and experiences with brands. The growth of audio communication - especially during the pandemic in 2020 - generated an increased interest in this format of content, therefore establishing sonic branding as a trend and valuable positioning strategy.
Subconscious reactions to sounds are responsible for 86% of consumers decisions to either engage or avoid a specific experience. It means a combination of sounds can be very powerful.
Also known as the audio version of a company logo, sonic branding is considered specific signatures brands use to immerse in consumers' daily routines and leverage from easy associations. Intentionally or not, they can support marketers by making audiences relate to brands' other subtle elements and characteristics, leading to emotions, changing perception and, mainly, increasing recall.
Why is sonic branding beneficial?
First of all, sonic branding makes it easier for brands to tap into the audio space. By setting a sound identity, brands open another connection channel with their target audiences, driving interest through assets that spark emotions. Those can be applied to ads, podcasts, and several different consumer touchpoints with a high impact on the way messages are received. Netflix's iconic welcoming duo of notes is a great example of how this approach helps build brand relevance - users don't even need to watch the visuals to get the message.
The growing establishment of voice assistants and smart speakers shows screens are no longer the dominant interaction format for businesses. Predictions confirm smart speaker deliveries will reach 400 million in 2025 - about four times the 2019 estimate. Along with it, audio entertainment rise opened up new possibilities for brands to access their audiences and diversify marketing investments. In 2020, podcast listening increased by 32%, while Spotify ad-supported visitors increased by 30% - which means a significant portion of consumers found in a relaxed state especially favourable to connecting with brands' DNA.
Sonic branding is not only limited to advertising though. It can be used as a thought leadership tool to drive recognition through audiobooks, website sounds, and even hold music for waiting customers. With the ever-evolving social media landscape and the fast-growth of TikTok as a key engagement platform with music at its core, the interest for strong sonic branding strategies is forging deep connections within the channel.
What is a successful sonic branding strategy?
Sonic branding building should incorporate some key aspects. First of all, this strategy should start by considering the brand's main elements - from values to tone of voice - aiming to translate these characteristics into an audio content that connects with its identity. Beyond audio logos, sonic branding can comprehend a selection of sounds that represent the brand in different ways - from podcasts and music playlists to ads.
It's important to keep it simple and catchy, highly recognisable but still relatable. Driving emotions should be a key goal: brands' sound identities are supposed to trigger actions and contribute to nurturing sustainable relationships with listeners.
Besides its uniqueness, successful sonic branding strategies stand out by being versatile, and easily applied to other marketing strategies to complement and enrich their performance. In that sense, influencers can play a major role in incorporating specific sounds and escalating their reach towards a mainstream position.
How can influencers leverage the power of sonic branding?
When connecting sonic branding strategies with influencer marketing, businesses can combine the power of audio content with the high level of trust creators manage to build with their audiences. By embedding specific sounds into branded content, influencers can drive awareness and amplify sonic branding reach - supporting recognition and virality.
As brands extend their sonic expertise to different marketing assets, influencers are to convey messages that reinforce personalities and values. Digital talents can use their own voices to attract audiences and build credibility, reducing brands' efforts to establish strong sonic branding. In parallel, collaborations with smart speakers linked with influencer marketing are to generate high impact and drive more sustainable relationships with customers - moving from purchasing occasions only to daily routines.
At the same time, the power of podcasts can't be overlooked: stats show that 3 out of 5 podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad. However, it takes listeners less than 5 seconds to form an opinion on branding on a website or device. Influencers can help brands reach audiences within this window, with the benefit of having a solid digital presence and the assertive approach to developing engaging content.
What is the future of sonic branding?
With the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), sonic branding has the potential to become a truly unique item in the metaverse - the concept of interconnected digital spaces that become one virtual world. As digital goods have gained traction across multiple sectors, including supply chains and marketing, brands are to amplify their opportunities to develop identity features mixing visual, audio and retail.
Sonic branding is also to be designed to establish a new way of integrating physical and digital experiences - known as ‘phygital’ experiences, becoming a vital part of this merging and elevating recognition. As audio engagement continues to stand out, marketers can prepare to consider investments like branded music, voices and app sound - aiming to drive positive customer sentiment, no matter where the customer is.
- Sonic branding is considered a marketing strategy focused on creating and establishing an easy association and customer recognition through the power of audio.
- 2020 has accelerated the growth of audio marketing, leading users to increase consumption of this type of content.
- To be successful a sonic branding strategy must remain true to the business, while also relatable, recognisable and versatile.
- Influencers can support sonic branding strategies by driving more sustainable engagement and amplifying the reach of branded messages.
- In the future, sonic branding is to play an even greater role in linking digital and virtual worlds, and being integrated into NFTs and phygital experiences.
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