Aleksandra Szczerba
Levelling up the jingle: audio branding for the next generation
5 mins

Audio branding, in theory, is nothing new. After all, who does not know the “I’m lovin’ it” jingle of the world’s largest fast food chain?

The world we live in  – and in which we experience media on a daily basis – is audio-visual, and making the most of all the opportunities opens up more possibilities of connecting with an audience.

Despite this, bespoke audio still remains an underutilised tool. Brand-specific jingles have fallen out of favour in the past two decades for being seen as old-fashioned.

Simultaneously, the internet reshaped our media diets, minimising our exposure to anywhere audio might be heard. Radio made way for on-demand music, live TV turned into SVOD, and ‘legacy’ social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram, were originally focused on static content.

However, more recently, audio is reclaiming its space in people’s lives. Streamers are including ads; millions listen to podcasts and audiobooks; smart speakers are in millions of homes. And the face of social media has been drastically changed by TikTok, the short video behemoth which has unveiled the power of a danceable song hook or meme-worthy sound bite.

These platform- and content-based opportunities have opened the door for brands to deploy audio strategies once again.

TikTok, with its ability to create viral sensations overnight, has been a particular focus in an attempt for brands to replicate algorithmic success of their own. However, trying to game the algorithm – or capture an audience seeking authenticity and a personalised experience with inorganic marketing – can bring mixed results.

Nevertheless, the platform does help illustrate the power of audio. According to the platform’s data, 68% of users say that sounds help them remember brands better, 62% say it makes them more curious to learn about a brand, and 65% prefer original sounds.

Sounds aiding recall aren’t exclusive to TikTok though. Sound is a key sensoral cue in capturing attention and in memory formation. The memory is what drives brand engagement, including purchase, regardless of where the sound is heard – TikTok, a podcast, or YouTube.

Some of the most effective deployments of audio identities have been in the tech sector, where brands can embed their bespoke audio into products to create all-round branded experiences even beyond marketing.

Nevertheless, brands across all sectors can use sound to stand out and differentiate themselves.

Unsurprisingly, in 2021, there was a 22% increase in brands crafting audio identities – and in 2022 we saw a lot of developments in sonic design. We’re predicting that with advancements in immersive digital UX, like augmented reality and virtual worlds, 2023 could see a sonic boom.

There is no one way for a brand to approach audio, and there are approaches tailored to the needs and vision of every brand. MasterCard is currently still in the process of rolling out its high-tech, adaptable 10-layer sonic branding plan; it is being systematically applied to all their audio-visual content and checkout points across the world.

Cadbury revealed its sonic logo last year: a classic and sweet motif created by orchestral composer Guy Farley on a 1895 Steinway piano. What better summarises an almost-200-year-old chocolate company than a classic piano piece? Whereas the sonic DNA created for the esports organisation ESL is a set of tracks crafted to reflect “The Hero’s Journey” that all gamers are familiar with.

Ultimately, the way we consume and interact with content is constantly changing, but audio and audio-visual content are daily digital touchpoints. To differentiate themselves in an overwhelmingly busy world, brands need to be thinking about crafting a multi-sensory DNA for this multi-sensory media landscape.

And creating a unique, memorable audio identity is undoubtedly the way forward.

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