Nothing is more nostalgic than the sounds we associate with travelling. From taking us back to childhood trips with our families to the first time we jetted off with our significant other, no one understands that better than Singapore Airlines (SIA) who is synonymous with many of our most special travelling moments.
Capitalising on the emotions associated with its airline, SIA, in 2021, launched a sonic signature titled the Sound of Singapore.
The sonic signature, which was recently released by SIA on YouTube, comprises a variety of instrumental tracks that have been played on board the aircraft during boarding and landing, in SilverKris lounges and at other customers touchpoints such as at SIA service centers.
The sonic signature was composed by composer Rohan De Livera, and the main melody pays homage to 10 flowers, which are florals native to Singapore that are also used in the new SIA batik motif, said an SIA spokesperson to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
To create the sonic signature, Livera and musicians Dominic Murcott, alongside members of the SIA cabin crew and ground staff, spent weeks developing the color frequencies of the flowers in the batik motif to 14 sets of melodic fragments. These were then used to compose the melodies. SIA' iconic A Great Way to Fly jingle was also incorporated into each track.
The use of signature sounds to solidify a brand in the minds of consumers is not a new branding tactic. Some brands that have taken on a multi-sensorial approach include Mastercard which rolled out its inaugural music album titled "Priceless" featuring 10 songs by 10 different artists from around the world in June last year. Made available first on Spotify, each song in the album incorporates the melody of Mastercard's brand sound.
However, considering that emotions are so strongly tied to travelling and that SIA itself is a very established brand, the use of a signature sound is particularly notable.
"Depending on how it resonates with audiences, there is a strong potential for long-term recall, and deeper brand love and recognition," noted Don Anderson, the CEO and founder of Kaddadle, a multi-platform media and entertainment company.
"As a child of the 70s myself, there were countless Western brands like Oscar Meyer and Coca-Cola, whose songs remain ingrained in the memories of those from that generation," he said before adding that there was a time when a “jingle” was a ubiquitous element of any brand and marketing strategy. This however, changed considerably in the 1980s and 1990s with the growth of music licensing.
Anderson added that platforms such as YouTube and TikTok are the best avenues for brands to keep a connection and vibe alive with fans and followers which is why putting the track on YouTube and Spotify instead of simply on its planes and touchpoints is key. He said:
If it’s catchy, shareable and it makes sense to the brand’s personality, the potential for vitality should remain high — considerably more than the traditional broadcast methods of generations past.
Anderson added that timing is also everything and that if timed to a change of season or an event, the potential for memorability and recall is typically higher.
Adding on, Ash Chaudhry, the director of brand partnerships APAC at MassiveMusic, an international creative music agency specialising in sonic branding, noted that an audio identity is just as important as a visual one.
"For a brand as iconic as SIA and whose customers are already so attached to, adding the intimacy of sound completes the emotional connection," he said. He added that for those new to the brand, the addition of a unique sound that works with the established visual identity helps create a greater awareness. "This then becomes more familiar and begins to cement their own unique relationship with the brand across various touchpoints," he said.
He added that releasing the sonic signature on platforms such as YouTube and Spotify 9 is key because we are consuming hours of content a day, across multiple platforms.
Not using audio consistently is a missed opportunity to fully cut through the clutter, especially with the rise of ‘sound on’ platforms such as TikTok, podcasts and audio streaming.
He continued by saying that brand recall is more important than ever because of the abundance of choice particularly in a category as competitive as SIA's. "Brands are fighting for attention in nearly every space and therefore need to forge ahead to create a deeper connection with consumers in order aid attribution and emotional impact," he said before noting that the goal is to create something distinctive, to build brand salience and to ensure it carries meaning in order to reinforce an aspect of the brand’s personality and what makes it unique.
The power of repetition
Adding on, Danny Wong, the head of growth and innovation, APAC at TEAM LEWIS noted that there is beauty and power in repetition. "By having a sonic identity in place, the brand is now able to turn up in a consistent fashion in different touchpoints, both online and offline," he said.
This in turn builds a coherent brand memory in the minds of consumers, regardless of what stage of the SIA experience they are in.
He continued by saying that a memorable sonic signature allows a beloved national brand such as SIA to trigger the feeling of nostalgia and that rush of excitement that comes from the promise of adventure - all through the universal language of sound. "This helps to not only build brand recall, but preference as well," he said.
At the end of the day, it is really about encapsulating and capturing the brand’s values, personality, and aspiration in a unique and distinct sound that drives an emotional bond between brand and consumer, according to Wong.
Agreeing with him, Kevin Kan, the chief experience officer of Break Out Consulting Asia said that music is really all about emotions and that when you have an emotional connection with a brand, it usually instills loyalty.
"A well placed and consistent sound bite or sonic signature on board will evoke the brain’s recall. That music to me means first class service and the Singapore girl, everything that Singapore Airlines wants us to recall about their brand. Loyalty is usually associated with a strong brand and that is what a good sonic signature will allow for," he said.
The release of SIA's sonic signature sound on YouTube comes shortly after the airline launched its latest global brand campaign, which will run on television, print, digital, out-of-home, and social media platforms.
Titled “Welcome to World Class”, the campaign reflects the airline’s commitment to deliver an exceptional customer experience across the end-to-end travel journey. This is epitomised by SIA’s cabin crew in the 90-second campaign video, which highlights their varied and personal experiences with people and cultures from around the world.
Directed by filmmaker Liz Murphy, the video was filmed in Singapore, Auckland in New Zealand, Barcelona in Spain, Mumbai in India and Shanghai in China. The airline conducted in-depth research to measure its global brand perception, and used the findings to create a campaign that aims to resonate with customers around the world.
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