Ian Cassidy – Co-Managing Partner, The Station Agency
If you were to see a list of Australia’s most well-known brands, you’d more than likely be able to picture them in your head. Their logo. Brand colours. Brand slogan. Maybe even a tagline from their advertising. But if you were asked how those same brands sound, it’s likely you’d find that a much harder question to answer.
And yet, capturing your brand's essence in audio form – its sonic logo, isn't just a highly effective piece of branding, it's also more important than ever. How we interact with brands, and in particular their advertising, has fundamentally changed. We're forever distracted by our phones, our children, a boiling-over pan on the stovetop, and the reality is that most ads get glanced at rather than pored over.
The power of sound
But even with customers who aren’t paying close attention, you can reach them with sound and become instantly recognisable, and importantly, memorable. Think Maccas’ "ba da ba BA ba” (you just sang it didn’t you?) No matter how distracted you are, hear that little earworm and you instantly know it’s a Maccas ad and will have some form of positive emotional reaction to it. In fact, YouGov UKs 2021 ‘The Power of Sound on Spending Survey’ found that 1 in 5 adults under 35 are more likely to choose or buy a product from a brand with a sonic identity, and 1 in 3 adults under 35 feel more positive towards these brands.
While many bigger brands like Macca’s have been quick to see the power of sonic logos, smaller brands have generally been slower on the uptake. But arguably, it’s the brands with lower awareness and smaller media budgets that stand to benefit more. Take one of our clients, Hearing Australia, as an example.
As a government agency, Hearing Australia has a heightened perspective on making sure that every cent works as hard as possible. For us as their creative agency, and in Ehrenbergh-Bass speak, that meant creating constantly used, easy-to-remember, distinctive brand assets that would, over time, create familiarity with the brand and make it front-of-mind when a consumer is in purchasing mode. And with the potential to deliver a 900% increase in branded attention1 plus the fact it’s a hearing brand, creating a sonic logo for Hearing Australia felt like the obvious step.
Creating a sonic logo
The good news is that the process required to create a sonic logo needn’t be onerous or costly. And our 3-step process is neither.
Step 1: Design
We start by defining a brand's core attributes and personality traits, which gives us a set of words and feelings that its sonic logo should evoke in the end consumer or user. For example, should it feel smiley and uplifting? Or like a warm hug.
Then we define its musical anatomy - the structure of the sonic logo. Do we want it to sing or say the brand name? Or not mention it at all. Should it feature a melody and if so, what type? And what sounds do we want it to use e.g., electronic, percussion, orchestral, etc? Fun fact: sonic logos featuring a melody have a 20% higher memorability and brand association than those that do not.2
Step 2: Compose
Next, armed with our creative brief and a clear sense of what we want to hear come out the other end, we brief up to 20 different musicians and composers from all musical backgrounds and genres to pitch us their sonic logos, drawing up a shortlist of our preferred favourites to be tested with consumers.
Step 3: Test
Music is highly subjective. One person’s ACDC is another person’s A$AP Rocky. And so, testing it with the actual people we want it to appeal to helps remove any musical biases the client, or agency, may have.
When testing, we look to understand 2 key criteria:
Emotional Appeal – what kind of emotional responses does the sonic logo trigger?
Brand Match – how does the sonic logo rate against our core brand attributes and personality traits?
We run a mix of qual and quant to give us our answers and from there we choose the sonic logo that we hope will ultimately connect the brand with its target consumers, triggering their emotions, driving memorability, and cut through.
And the result…
Here’s the sonic logo we created for Hearing Australia.
A 3-second earworm that runs at the end of every TV and radio advert, plays on screens in-store, across digital and social, and which research tells us, is working to increase spontaneous awareness, distinctiveness, memorability, consideration, and visits. And all delivered for tens rather than hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in weeks not months.
So, if you’re asking yourself whether you can afford to create a sonic logo for your brand, perhaps the question you should instead be asking, is whether you can afford not to.
1Power of you. IPSOS 2020
22022 Audio Logo Index study by Southern Cross Austereo and Veritonic