In the last few years, we have seen more brands leveraging the power of sound to connect with consumers. In Amp Sound Branding's Best Audio Brands report, a ranking that captures which brands have the most effective sonic strategy over the 12 months, 139 out of 250 brands have a sonic logo. The report offers a multifaceted analysis that investigates and ranks brands based on their proficient sonic branding strategy, and utilisation of sound and music across various touchpoints over the last 12 months.
Interestingly, seven of which take the top 10 spots in sonic branding, are also new brands. Looking forward to 2024, Bjorn Thorleifsson, head of research and insights at amp sound branding, said that in the upcoming year, major brands will seek not just bespoke projects for their major campaigns, but rather sonic identities to represent their brand at every touchpoint.
For example, just last month, Standard Chartered Bank created a distinctive sonic identity. The sonic identity featured a sonic logo, suite of brand soundtracks, voiceovers and UX sounds to reinforce the Standard Chartered brand personality across its 52 international markets.
According to Thorleifsson, 2024 will be an exciting year for the sonic branding industry. Sonic branding is also not limited to any specific industry. Last year, ride-hailing and food delivery tech company Grab and skin cleansing brand Lux both took a stab at sonic branding with different aims and objectives.
Grab, for example, wanted to differentiate itself from other notification sounds on the phone, while Lux looked to give a voice to its mission to champion and celebrate the beauty of women.
"An increasing number of brands are recognising the value of investing in owned sound," said Thorleifsson. He added that sonic assets can play a pivotal role in enhancing brand awareness, equity, and authenticity across diverse touchpoints.
"By incorporating sound and music, potent drivers of emotion, brands gain an additional medium through which to convey their identity,” explained Thorleifsson.
What's important to remember?
While examples such as Grab and Lux both reflect how sonic branding can aid in brand awareness and recognition, Thorleifsson warns that an inappropriate choice can generate cognitive dissonance among consumers, resulting in a detrimental effect on brand perception.
It's crucial to emphasise that venturing into sonic branding is not a high-risk, high-reward scenario.
"Success hinges on the meticulous allocation of time, effort, and thoughtful consideration,” added Thorleifsson. A well-crafted sonic identity can elevate branded content to an emotionally resonant and cohesive level, provided brands invest the necessary time and effort to truly understand how they should sound.
Capturing the Gen Z attention
Thorleifsson added that the proliferation of “sound-on” social media such as TikTok and the continuing dominance of podcasts have also accelerated the sonic branding industry’s journey to ubiquity. This is because brands need to adapt to the shorter attention spans of Gen Zs.
Nonetheless, capturing the attention of Gen Zs proves to be challenging, according to research by amp. One in three Gen Z individuals blocks a brand on social media on a weekly basis – meaning that Gen Zs are quick to goodbyes without batting an eye.
To capture the attention of Gen Z audiences in a rapidly paced digital landscape, brands must ensure that their distinctive sounds no longer linger at the end of a commercial and are rather seamlessly integrated into content, said Thorleifsson.
Taking Old Spice as an example, the former powerhouse brand fell out of favour for an extended period but successfully engaged millennials and Gen Zs with the introduction of comedic commercials featuring their distinctive sonic logo.
Old Spice’s sonic logo later evolved into a viral sonic meme that now boasts an impressive recognition rate of 87% among Gen Z, with nearly 50% accurately associating it with Old Spice, said Thorleifsson. These statistics reflect the substantial influence of sonic branding in resuscitating brands that have faded from public consciousness.
The impact of AI
As the landscape continues to evolve in 2024, it is likely that sonic branding will adapt Artificial Intelligence (AI) too. In this case, Thorleifsson sees AI as a time saving tool and a helping hand in achieving authenticity.
When it comes to speed, Thorleifsson thinks AI helps to address the increasing demand for short-form video content. This is especially when brands resort to generic stock music, no music or even risk infringing on licensed content when they are forced with the challenge of producing numerous daily posts.
“The proliferation of AI technology enables brands to swiftly generate music infused with their sonic identities, reducing production time from days or weeks to mere minutes,” added Thorleifsson.
In addition, AI can help a brand analyse and strive for authenticity, a key consideration for the Gen Z demographic. Now that AI can listen and analyse sonic moods, brands are able to ensure that their sonic identity remains authentic and aligned with the intended emotional musical tone.
Plus, AI tools can also help piece together short stems of branded music in hopes of creating a more immersive branded environment. However, it should not take away the human touch from the process.
“AI-generated sonic branding is poised to revolutionise the advertising landscape,” said Thorleifsson. “It’s crucial to clarify that AI technology is not intended to replace the human touch in music; instead, it serves to augment human capabilities, allowing individuals to focus on the creative and artistic aspects.”
This collaborative approach ensures a synergy between human creativity and AI-driven efficiency in the realm of sonic branding, promising a transformative impact in the advertising world, added Thorleifsson.
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