We've been hearing it forever. The youngest and oldest among us can hum it: N-chime, B-chime, C-chime.

NBC has built a unique, emotional branding platform, so to speak, with the three simple chimes that have represented the brand for decades—eight of them.

That's an impressive run. Perhaps even more impressive is what those notes are worth in dollars and sense. What would they fetch if, let's say, NBC were to auction them off? Millions? Tens of millions? More? Undoubtedly it's worth a lot more than it cost to create.

Every organization that communicates with sound—in advertising, online, digital, retail spaces, call centers, events, products, etc.—has some lessons to glean from NBC and others like them.

Budgets may be tight and long-term planning may feel out of reach, but a few simple principles can help lay the groundwork for long-term brand value.

Fortunate to have been involved with large-scale sonic identity systems for global brands, I've seen (heard) music and sound create significant long-term brand power. That effect comes by design, and it starts with a few questions.

1. What's your return on sound?

In 2006 the top 100 US advertisers each spent between $150 million and $2 billion on sound-enabled media (TV, radio, Internet), and millions more in unmeasured media (events, call centers, etc.).

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Noel Franus is managing director for Sonic ID (sonicid.com), a sonic branding and identity consultancy in Portland, Oregon and London. He writes regularly on sonic branding and identity at intentionalaudio.com and sonicid.com.