Sonic Branding 101

Most marketers are aware that the number of audio touchpoints by which consumers engage (voice-enabled devices, social media, etc.), is increasing. We are less familiar, however, with the research and creative process that goes into creating a unique brand sound.

Even some of the language can be foreign. To help demystify that, a sonic identity is essentially a brand identity represented in audio form. In the same way that a logo should spur recognition, a sonic identity should ignite a connection to the brand the instant consumers hear it. When a listener encounters a truly effective sonic identity, they know what the brand is or, in the case of new audiences, want to find out.

We’ve all heard the term “jingle”—a catchy tune used to build brand awareness and favorability over time with repeat exposure cementing the tune in your head. A sonic identity goes beyond that, representing your brand everywhere audio is present—and in today’s media landscape, audio has made a sneaky comeback. While audio is a key component in video content, audio-only or audio-driven platforms like podcasts and even TikTok are dependent on a more-thoughtful approach.

This two-to-four-second sound (in most cases, it’s truly that short!) represents a brand everywhere you might hear it: pre-roll on YouTube, social media, in-person events, retail environments, podcasts and more. The best sonic identities are enduring and can be associated with brands for decades.

Like any worthwhile strategic creative endeavor, embarking on creating or revitalizing a sonic identity takes listening and conversation upfront. Similar to a brand exploration for a visual identity where the focus is on rethinking how the brand is seen in the world, this process delves into how the brand is heard in the world. Ideally, reworking your brand’s sonic identity aligns with a key inflection point like the refresh of your logo, website, or overall approach to branding.

While it is important to adhere to a tight process when creating a brand identity, the launch of a new sound should be approached without fear. In other words, broadcast it everywhere your brand can be heard! The enduring impact of an effective sonic identity can only be built through repeat exposure, so a bold approach is much more effective than a conservative one.

While anchoring the launch of a sonic identity with a hero video can be effective, a broader canvas is necessary to build the foundation for long-term awareness. Conduct an audit of all of your potential audio touchpoints and create a plan to deploy your sonic identity across a wide range of outputs to ensure a cohesive presence.

To stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, your brand needs to be seen and heard. A clear, consistent sonic identity can help you get there.

HiFi Project is an IHAF member company and creative music studio that delivers original composition, music supervision, sound design, artist-direct projects, and client-direct music strategy services.

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