To me, Apple will always sound like the Mac startup chime, as it should. After being a part of our lives for almost 30 years, the recognizable chime has become synonymous with the brand. Many other brands have a sound that is uniquely theirs, like McDonald’s “I’m loving it” jingle, or Optica Halperin’s breaking glass sound. Owning a unique sound is sometimes what separates a good brand from a great one.
Going digital means some brands have been losing their voices, or even worse — not having a voice at all. Ask yourself, what does Dropbox sound like? What does eBay or Cisco sound like? The internet is mostly and respectfully mute (unless you press a play button), and since most of our digital brand-experience is online, experiencing a brand means using our eyes, not our ears.
According to researchers at the University of Iowa, when it comes to memory, we don’t remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch. This may explain why the majority of brand managers focus on textual marketing messages. If you want people to remember a message, audio delivery won’t be your first weapon of choice. However, brands are about evoking emotion, and sound is a powerful took that has been widely overlooked.
Sound is powerful. Pixar is an excellent example of audio potency. Their approach to music and the soundtrack shows how advances in sound design can create impact. Pixar differentiated itself from Disney’s classic animated films, replacing the musical numbers and dance sequences with montages and flashbacks, scored with either original music or preexisting songs. Pixar pays unusually nuanced attention to the soundtrack, resulting in some of the most moving animated films and box office successes.
Emerging new media and devices with built-in audio delivery, such as social media platforms, podcasts, streaming media, or smartphones, expand both audio branding opportunities and audio brand impact. This enables brand managers to engage with their audience at a deeper, more emotional level.
As a branding agency, our goal has always been to answer the big question: “what is your story?” Now it seems that we should be asking ourselves, “What is your story, and what does it sound like?”’
Watch this analysis on how Pixar uses music to make you cry: