Listen Up! Sonic Branding Matters More Than Ever

By Reggie Shah, Senior Director, Audacy Insights, Audacy

What do you think about when you hear someone say, “brand identity”? We often envision what a brand looks like. The logo, the colors, the packaging – the visual elements of brand identity. But what about how a brand sounds? Sonic branding is exploding right now. Marketers across industries are recognizing that opportunities for visual branding are on the decline. Shoppers across the board are reducing their screen time and increasing their appetite for audio. As consumers we’ve expanded the way we interact with brands. Today we connect with brands through smart speakers, in our cars, and through broadcast and digital audio media. Brands are aware that it’s crucial to activate sonic assets to garner brand attention and awareness.  

Creating a powerful sonic identity has never been more paramount for brands. As we move into the next phase of computing, which will be increasingly screenless and driven by voice, the way a brand sounds will become one of the most important elements of branding over the next decade.

Paul Suchman
CMO, Audacy

Marketers aren’t dialing into sonic branding simply for consumer access. Sonic branding attributes are extremely effective at grabbing our attention and impacting recall, even more so than most visual branding elements1. The best creative includes memorable sensory queues that stay with consumers. Think of McDonald’s, “I’m Lovin’ It’, or Intel’s unique sound. All you need is a few notes and you are completely connected to that brand. That’s the value of effective sonic branding.

Embarking on Your Sonic Journey

Not many brands get the opportunity to completely rebuild their brand identity from top to bottom. At Audacy, we recently had the chance to reimagine our look, our message, and of course – our sound, with our recent organizational rebrand. It was an exciting opportunity to connect our master brand, stations and digital audio platform to our core brand values. And that’s where most brands start. What’s your identity; who are you as a brand; what do you stand for?

For us, we map who we are and what we do to four brand pillars. For our sound drivers, that meant we were looking for a sound that was Resonant, Warm, Dynamic and Relevant. This is a sound that would connect, energize and evoke emotion. We used these guiding principles to develop our own sonic logo.

Audacy Sonic Logo

Pressure Testing Your Sound

Next came the fun part. For brands like ours, a big priority is making sure your sonic identity can travel from your master brand to all of your formats and platforms and still fit, still make sense, still work. When your sound is pulled into Rock Music, or News, or when it’s heard in your car vs your earbuds, does it resonate?

Working with Listen, a sonic and sensory experience team, we brought our brand to life. Now Country music fans get to experience our brand customized with a soft strum of the guitar. And News listeners are welcomed to our brand with an impactful pulse that matches that format.

Country Sonic Logo
News Format Sonic Logo

Partners like Veritonic, experts in audio intelligence and measurement, help brands like ours take a step back. The real test isn’t whether we like our sound. It’s whether our sound resonates with our audiences. We get the benefit of objective analysis through their predictive creative measurement tools. When we stack our sonic logo against leading media brands, we get to see if we are truly evoking our brand values. And what we learned was eye opening. All of our format sonic logos scored extremely high for ‘Energetic’, which perfectly reflects our goals of being dynamic and resonant. And our Classic Rock sonic logo scored higher than leading media brands for evoking ‘Happiness’. This is precisely what we want our listeners to feel when they connect with our brand.

Dig Deeper into Sonic Branding

A sonic journey is an extensive one. It’s key to building a complete brand identity. And it involves much more than a sonic logo. To learn more about the creative process of building brand identity, and sonic elements that impact recall and favorability, check out our latest webinar in the Audacy Insights Series: Strengthening Brands Through Sound.

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1 Ipsos, The Power of You, 2020

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