What goes into creating a sonic logo for a brand like Tostitos and how does the marketing team measure its success in crucial metrics like brand recall and appeal? The recipe for the PepsiCo brand’s sonic success was on display last week in New York on the Advertising Week stage.
If there’s one word that sums up what the Tostitos brand stands for, it’s togetherness, according to Hana Golden, the PepsiCo Marketing Director who oversees the brand. “We like to think of ourselves as the social campfire,” she told the Advertising Week crowd during a panel about sonic branding. “People don't gather around a pot of soup; they gather around chips and dip or those types of things.”
The target consumer for Tostitos are “social instigators” that always have chips and dips in their pantry and are ready at any moment to welcome guests. But with a 25-year-old brand in a competitive snack market where the chip has been commoditized, Golden’s marketing team was struggling with how to make the Tostitos brand distinct. New packaging, new dip flavors and inventing “the scoop” chip were part of the solution. Still, Tostitos needed its own distinctive tone and sound. “Right now we believe with our partners that sound is a cultural must,” Golden said. “To be a complete brand for the future of our consumers, for those social instigators, we needed something that could ring true to the brand.”
Meanwhile, the world had reopened following the depths of the pandemic and PepsiCo saw that the occasions of people consuming Tostitos were moving back out of the home and into restaurants and other places beyond the home unit. To maintain its share of in-home occasions while growing it’s out-of-home share, PepsiCo turned to audio.
“One of the best ways for us to be out of the home is through sound because we believe it's one of the truest things that someone can multitask with,” Golden said. “And it can still be an emotionally resonant piece.”
The challenge? How to recreate the sound and feel of the moment when people come together around the bowl, using sound and music. The job went to Made Music Studio, which went to work sculpting a sonic logo that “makes you feel something and sparks that craving and makes you think of those moments of togetherness,” said Amy Crawford, Senior VP of the studio. Her team went after a sound that was “exciting and joyful and playful.”
At the core of the soundscape was the sound of biting into a chip. But any chip maker can weave a crunch into their spot. The challenge became “how do we tell that whole story in a way that your competitors can't do,” Crawford continued. In came other sounds associated with Tostitos: the snap of a jar of fresh salsa being opened; drumsticks hitting the tops of salsa jars in a musical way. “Our studio kind of looked like a Tostitos warehouse for most of the time we worked on this project with tons of jars,” Crawford recalled.
In the end, the studio and brand came up with an award-winning, music-based sonic brand that combines the three sounds – the chip crunch, jar top pop, and the musical tone of using salsa jars as a drumkit.
Clocking in at 1.5 seconds, the Tostitos audio logo has been shown by audio research and analytics platform Veritonic to increase ad recall and brand appeal. After being in the market for just six months, Veritonic says the sonic brand had a 38% increase in brand recall and a 13% increase in brand score compared to the CPG food norm. Even better, seven in ten test participants found it fun. “That figure is just for the sonic identity, just that second and a half,” said Veritonic Chief Revenue Officer Korri Kolesa. “That starts to tell you how impactful audio is. Everyone in this audience knows you hear a song you love – you have that emotional resonance; you have a feeling, and you know it instinctively.”