Sonic branding continues to increase as marketers and advertisers embrace audio and the consumer reach it affords. So far in 2021, there’s been a 22% increase in brands launching audio identities for the first time, according to Made Music Studio, which provides sonic branding for HBO, AT&T, American Express and other brands.
These first-timers include brands in the financial services, auto, tech and retail industries. In a piece written for Fast Company, Made Music Studio Executive VP of Global Brand Partnerships and Development John Taite, says American Express, Frito-Lay, Colgate, General Mills and Walmart have all “significantly increased their sonic investments in the last 18 months.”
Taite says sound has become a secret weapon for brand marketing. “When it’s done right, audio branding has the power to improve performance and sales,” he writes. “If your brand is on mute, it’s a lot easier for consumers to ignore you.”
Sound can influence a person’s desire to engage, or avoid, a brand by 86%, according to a study by Sentient Decision Science. Humans react quicker to sound than visual. Thirty milliseconds faster, Taite says. “That split-second advantage for sound is vital because it establishes our emotional state and colors our expectations for a brand experience—positive or negative,” he explains.
His company developed the sonic identity for AT&T in 2011. In three years, the mnemonic became the company’s second-most identifiable brand asset after the AT&T Globe. “Not only did their four-note mnemonic express the brand concisely, it also struck an emotional chord with consumers and became instantly recognizable,” Taite says.
Another reason for the increase in sonic branding is the measurability of its impact. Noting that many companies have quadrupled their buys on audio-first platforms since 2019, Taite cites an Ipsos study that showed commercials using sonic branding cues performed eight times higher in recognition and attribution. AdsWizz reported a 238% increase in engagement for commercials using contextualized music.
While the use of sonic branding is certainly on the upside, Veritonic and Ipsos say only 41% of audio advertisers and 8% of TV advertisers are actively using sonic branding.
“It’s not too late for brands to make a sonic impact, even if they’re late to the game,” Taite writes in conclusion. “With even more data to de-risk investment and the growing adoption of audio-driven platforms, we anticipate the demand for sonic branding will continue to grow from nice-to-have to must-have for companies in virtually every industry.”