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Sonic Branding Definition and Examples for Marketers

Updated: Apr 2

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Much is written about the creative side of advertising and the visual representation of brands via logos, color palettes, and website design. But one crucial element is often overlooked and underutilized: audio.

According to a 2023 report by sonic branding agency amp, more than half of Gen Z can correctly identify a brand solely based on a viral sound. And 81% could name a brand with a sound associated with a meme.

With TikTok's popularity and social media's virality, brands have a chance to create memorable moments that will stick in consumers' ears long after they've stopped scrolling.

Sonic branding definition and examples for marketers to get inspired

Sonic branding, sometimes called audio or sound branding, is the use of sound or music to reinforce a brand's identity and create a memorable experience for target consumers. It involves the strategic use of sound elements such as jingles, sound logos, or brand anthems to evoke emotions, convey messages, and establish a brand's personality.

This is not a new concept -- jingles and audio signatures have been around for decades, with some of the earliest examples dating back to the 1920s when radio advertising became popular. However, technological advancements and the rise of digital media have made sonic branding more important than ever before.

How effective is sonic branding?

Sonic branding offers several key benefits to help marketers maximize the effects of their campaigns. First, it helps to differentiate a brand from its competitors. In today's crowded marketplace where consumers are bombarded with advertising messages from multiple devices, having a distinct sonic identity can help a brand stand out and be remembered.

Second, sonic branding can evoke strong emotions and create a deeper connection with consumers. Gen Z's connection to branded audio goes beyond simple consumerism -- they take ownership of the sounds they feel connected with, making them their own and sharing them with their peers.

A 2019 study by PHMG showed 74% of young adults say they develop a better understanding of a company's personality through music.

This has opened up a new avenue for brands to reach younger audiences more authentically. By tapping into the right beats, rhythms, and melodies, companies can connect with consumers beyond just making them want to buy something.

Thirdly, sonic branding can improve brand recognition and recall. A catchy jingle or a memorable sound logo can become ingrained in consumers' minds, making it easier for them to remember the brand when making purchasing decisions.

A 2008 study performed at Leicester University revealed that brands that use music aligned with the brand identity are 96% more likely to be remembered by the consumer than brands that use unfit music or no music at all.

Sonic Branding Examples

When I say "Nationwide is on your side", what do you hear? Probably the same thing I do.

Whether it's a catchy jingle (think McDonald's "Ba da ba ba ba"), a distinct sound effect (like the Nintendo Switch 'click' sound), or even a memorable voiceover, sonic branding can stick with people for years to come.

Defining the streaming age is Netflix's "ta dum", and what American kid didn't grow up on Tony the Tiger's "They're grrrrreat!"?

These earworms step over the short-termism of landing an immediate sale and instead lay the foundation for long-term brand recall and loyalty.

In sum, audio branding is a crucial element of building a holistic consumer experience to lift brand recall in a fun and easy way.

And in an increasingly voice-activated digital ecosystem (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri), it makes sense to exploit every aural component of your brand activations. 


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This piece originally appeared in our weekly Paid Media Insights newsletter. For more tips, research, and analysis; subscribe for free here.

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