If you're not sure what "sonic branding" is, think for a second about Intel. When you hear the three-second "Intel Inside" sonic logo, you instantly make the connection between whatever you're seeing—and hearing—and the Intel brand.
With so much emphasis on visual marketing, it's easy overlook the importance of engaging your audience's other senses. People remember 10% of what they see, but 30-40% of what they see and hear, so adding sonic branding to your arsenal can help you make a lasting impression on your audience.
To discuss how your company can strike the right tone through sonic branding, I invited marketing superstar and best-selling author David Meerman Scott and accomplished musician Juanito Pascual to Marketing Smarts.
David is a the author or co-author of 10 books, including three international bestsellers. His works include The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Real-Time Marketing & PR (see Marketing Smarts episode 92), Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History, and his latest book, The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to Use Agile Selling, Real-Time Customer Engagement, Big Data, Content, and Storytelling to Grow Your Business (see Marketing Smarts episode 147).
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with David and Juanito:
Sonic branding isn't about jingles; rather, a sonic logo or custom song embodies your brand's personality (05:23) [David]: "Sonic branding is the use of music, either in the form of several musical notes which we call a sonic logo—so that might be the Skype ring tone or the NBC chime or things like that—or full songs that companies use for their branding to represent their company. It could even be a whole big series of songs that could be used for their company.
When I think of a jingle, though, I think of words. 'Armor Hot Dogs' or something like that. That's different from what we're doing, because it's not really a jingle-advertising focus. It's more used in other aspects of marketing [brands] use rather than like a radio advertisement would be."
Investing in a custom song helps ensure you don't end up singing the blues (07:58) [David]: "Most organizations either steal music, which is not a great idea (it could even land you in jail)— so that's people who take songs that are familiar and just use them without permission—or what organizations also do is buy stock music. So... go to a stock music house, get some music, pay the royalty fee, and then they have the ability to use that. The problem with that is that everybody else has the same music, so your biggest competitor could have the same music in their application. It ultimately is not really branded for you.
"What we're doing is absolutely understanding your brand and then composing something exactly for you."
How can a song truly embody your brand? (09:55) [Juanito]: "Through conversation, David and I interview and have a somewhat lengthy conversation with the clients.... I'm glad to observe that, almost from the moment I start hearing the first words of their own self-description, my mind's already firing sounds and different melodic ideas. I make very strong associations with words and feelings and attributes. I naturally, innately connect those to sounds....
"I find that, when we start conversing, even just looking at the materials if we get a link to the website, I start looking at the images and reading a little bit, and once we start talking to the folks...the response in my mind is virtually immediately.... From there, it's taking the basic impressions that we get and creating a whole bunch of different samples and seeing what works and what doesn't."
A sonic logo comprises just a few notes, so each one counts (12:29) [Juanito]: In particular with the sonic logos, where we're dealing with a small number of notes...it's really interesting to have the opportunity to see how with three or four or five notes, when you change one note, every note has so much importance. If you're playing a whole piece or you're improvising a solo, you play lots and lots of notes. But when you have three notes and you change one, it's a drastic feeling change. It's really fun to delve into that."
David, Juanito, and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Intro/Outro music credit: Noam Weinstein.
David Meerman Scott, marketing expert, speaker, and co-founder of sonic branding studio Signature Tones, together with musician Juanito Pascual. David is the best-selling author of several books, including The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. Juanito composes music for brands, television shows, and motion pictures.