At last year’s Flashforward conference, I was impressed by the presentation on “sonic branding” given by Dave Schroeder of PilotVibe. The very idea that jingles, start up sounds and sounds effects in ads are carefully crafted to immediately differentiate one brand from another or to appeal to a certain audience is interesting to me. And beyond the online realm, the notion that event sound of the exhaust of a Harley Davidson or Lexus luxury sports car is finely tuned to make us immediately recognize and associate a sense of quality or performance, real or imagined, is fascinating. And that some of these distinctive sounds – often nothing more that a chord or chime created by a musician – can be trademarked as part of a brand? Amazing. What a cool gig to be an audio guy making custom sounds!
Of course sonic branding is not a new idea and has been much debated online, so I won’t bore you with another long article exploring a well discussed topic, but creating a aural aspect that communicates some distinctive nature of a company, product or service it is an interesting aspect to branding often overlooked. Whenever we hear that ominous electronic sound forever linked to the Microsoft XBox 360, we just know there is something powerful and sinister behind that slashed green X. Whenever my Apple laptop starts up with a loud “donnnnnnnnggggg” I smile with pride, knowing everyone around me now knows I’m a Mac user.
Heck, some sonic branding just won’t go away. Though retired long ago, I can’t get the “SEGA!!” scream used in their advertisements in the early nineties out of my mind. I wonder who’s work of marketing genius that was?
Please post a comment below with your favourite example of sonic branding.