Do you still remember the ice cream truck’s melody chiming enthusiastically through the streets, giving you an instant craving for a gooey popsicle? Even if the truck was still around the corner and out of sight; hearing that song was enough to have you running out the door salivating and wait impatiently for your favourite ice cream. You may think that this was long ago, but the rules haven’t changed at all.
We don’t often realise it, but every day we are exposed to thousands of sounds. Sound constantly influences the rational and emotional parts of our brain, our feelings, our actions and thoughts. Sound is a medium that can convey or strengthen a message. Think about the mood-setting tune with a sultry voice-over in commercials, convincing you to buy a product. Or the elevator music in supermarket, which has been proven to stimulate buying behaviour.
Most times, the most recognisable aspect of a brand is the logo. But even the best logo has its limits and can get lost in the visual chaos of the advertising world. The traditional logo has seen its impact dwindle. But how can you make your brand’s identity any stronger? With a sound. A ‘sonic logo’, to be precise.
A sonic logo, audio logo, acoustic logo… these notions are hardly new. They’re jingles, tunes or melodies that were originally used as campaign material. But it quickly became apparent that the repetitive use of these tunes leads to bigger and better brand recognition. Think of McDonald’s “I’m loving it” or “Always Coca-Cola”. In other cases, musical compositions are used, like Sony Bravia’s “Heartbeats” song. These brands and melodies are irreversibly attached to each other. It was only recently though that the need for an audio equivalent to a graphical logo was needed: the sonic logo was born! Intel was a pioneer in the field of sonic branding. Five rapid musical notes became one of the world’s most famous tunes. Research even showed that consumers couldn’t even draw Intel’s logo, but they could sing it. In Intel’s case, that’s a positive thing since the processor’s visibility is limited to a small logo on computers anyway. Today, more than 20 years down the road, this jingle still is Intel’s trademark.
Sonic branding’s main strength is the fact that you don’t have to listen to hear, but you have to look in order to see. Obviously sonic logos will never replace graphical ones. They each have a different kind of reach. They complement each other and conquer a bigger share-of-mind together. A sonic logo needs to be catchy, recognizable and memorable; just like its graphical counterpart. It also needs to be unmistakably attached to the brand values. Take Mercedes for instance: they launched their first sonic logo in 2007 as a reaction to BMW’s strong ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ tune and Audi’s “Vorsprung Durch Technik’ pulsating sound. The result being an emotional and elegant (= brand value alert!) choral that appears in every audio-visual communication in synch with the Mercedes star.
In every sector, sonic logos are gaining popularity. But have you ever heard of a city that has its own sonic logo? Yes, really. Den Haag was the first city in the world to have an audio logo. The tune was composed by Robert Jan Stips. He translated the graphical logo – “The Kite” – into a short musical fragment. They even launched different remixes of the sonic logo: there’s a rock version, a classical version, and Arab version and a dance version.