What is Sonic Branding?

Signature sounds can be just as recognizable as logos

sonic mobile
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Sonic branding or sound trademarking have been on the rise recently. A sound trademark, or sound or audio logo, is a trademark where the sound uniquely identifies the commercial origin of the product or service. It is always great if a brand’s text slogan can make you think of them when you read it, but it shows true power if a brand can be instantaneously recognized by and evoke an emotion by merely playing a sound. What are some of the brands that come to mind that have this ability? Netflix, Home Depot, and McDonald's.

Netflix’s ‘Ta-dum’ before you watch any show is now instantly recognized by many consumers. If you hear that two-note sound, consumers instantly think of the brand, their many offerings, and it evokes a sense of prestige. Netflix has found a way to make themselves top of mind for consumers by merely playing a sound. In a highly competitive space of streaming services, Netflix stands out. If you were to ask a consumer to recognize the sound of Hulu or HBO Max, I would assume they would draw a blank.

Home Depot’s iconic theme song benefited from the booming social media space. With a sonic brand as strong as Home Depot, TikTok’s 15-second clips back in 2019 acted as the perfect platform for users to utilize the jingle. The jingle caught fire on the platform and users dancing or moving to the song racked up millions of viewers; the hashtag #homedepot on TikTok had over 65.8 million views when it went viral. TikTok, and the jingle, made it easy for the explosion of user-generated content (UGC). The brand’s theme song started as one audio option on the platform and ended up in the palms of millions. Now whenever you hear the beat of the jingle, many can immediately recognize the brand behind it.

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling…

- E.Y. Harburg

Not long ago, McDonald's would be globally recognized by its slogan, “I’m lovin’ it”. Unfortunately, that catch phrase, and the brand’s mascot Ronald McDonald, started to become associated with childhood obesity. Fast-forward to today and McDonald's has done an excellent job of evolving their brand and the emotion that is evoked when consumers hear their slogan. Now, if you hear a commercial from McDonald’s you might not even hear them say “I’m lovin’ it”, but you will hear the trademarked five notes, "ba da ba BA ba” and the world will think of the golden arches, and the nostalgia, that comes with McDonald’s.

So, if you are creating a brand, make sure to think ahead. Yes, a nicely designed logo is key, but what is the point of a nice logo? It is to be instantly recognized by consumers for your product and services. If you are leading a brand, keep this in mind, you want to be globally recognized visually, but also audibly. Being audibly recognized is a sign of true presence in a consumer’s mind and a way to standout in a competitive market.

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