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:

It’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that we are living in the golden age of assholes. From political leaders, influencers, and brands, being a douchebag has its perks.

Some brands can get away with murder, while others need to apologize for every hiccup. Some get a slap on the wrist Aunt Jemima,” which is downright racist and was justly put down by Quaker Oats after 130 years of pitching the brand, quickly followed by “Mar’s” “Uncle Ben.”

I am talking about brands that draw a line and say, “we don’t care” to the overly woke, offended culture that has taken the joy out of everything in its path. Brands like “Virgin,” “Diesel,” “Harley Davidson,” “Uber,” “Pornhub”… These are all brands that frankly, my dear – don’t give a damn but have done incredibly well.

But where do you draw the line? Why is Pornhub’s “Bee Sexual” campaign acceptable, and the Washington Redskins’ team name not? (the team dropped their brand name entirely due to native American protest) Where do we draw the line? What about the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Braves (with tomahawk), St. Louis Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish, New Zealand’s All Blacks… ? What is offensive? What is radical and cool?

It seems that brands that try to conform to political correctness can never win, while those that go their own way seem to triumph. Perhaps, standing for something also means standing out. Maybe some people will frown, but others will love you for it. For one, I would rather manage a brand that generates emotions like love or hate than work with a bland one.

An “in-your-face” brand? A hero? Whatever your brand character is, being bad is pretty good business. We live in an age when being an asshole is a virtue. What a time to be alive!

If you like Piña coladas, or if your name is Luka, or if you are on a dark desert highway and have ever wondered why some songs are more memorable than others, this post might help you understand how some of these songs have survived over time, and how they are used to manipulate us.

Catchy tunes are sweet and trendy. But when it comes to songs you can sing by heart, a clear line can be drawn between a generic “I love you” tune and a song that has a story to tell.

Ask yourself, how well do you remember the lyrics of “Hotel California” or “Bohemian Rhapsody?” Most of us would answer “pretty well,” and not just because these were massive hits. Over the years, many songs have been huge hits, but only a few really resonate over time. Some songs made enough sense and had enough of a specific pattern that just made them stick in our brains. Don’t believe me? Well, let see if you can complete these:

“Her name was Lola she was a…”
“Ground Control to Major…”
“Cause for twenty-four years I’ve been living next door to…”

Our brains weren’t designed to remember facts and figures, but, rather, visual impressions, environments, and stories.

Stories work better when told consecutively. They also work better when combined with other elements, like an image or a tune, which helps our brains to absorb them better. Memory trainers teach you to transform large amounts of information into a coherent story to help you remember them. Adding rhymes or even a tune an help create an even stronger impression. Advertisers call that type of message “a giggle.” And it is so effective that it’s hard to imagine saying the McDonald’s slogan “I’m loving it” without singing it.

Understanding this relationship, advertisers have evolved from creating jingles to manipulating already popular songs to make them more effective. They now use songs you already like and that are already embedded in your subconscious mind to sell products. The formula is simple. Take a product, any product (a router, a yogurt, a hotel, anything really). Then take a well-known song, preferably one with a story, then mix your message in it. And… Alakazam! — you’ve got an effective commercial.

Go ahead, turn on your TV set, and count how many well-known songs are in an average commercial break. It’s impossible to escape from this new cocktail that advertisers are serving us. We know it’s potent, but it has come to the point that amounts to downright lazy advertising. No story, no message; just being force-fed with a product and a tune.

Yes. Using well-known songs in advertising is here to stay. But this use has become so overused that we have forgotten that its whole purpose was to help tell a story, and now, many times, it does everything but that.