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M3 Blog

Leveraging Sound to Build Great Brands

As a musician-turned-designer, I’ve always appreciated when brands go the extra mile and incorporate sonic elements into their brand touchpoints.

Most brands focus on just a couple of the senses: sight and touch. Don’t get me wrong, these elements are the most important when building a brand. However, the branding landscape is becoming more and more convoluted, and it’s more important than ever to have different tools in your toolbox to stand out and be memorable.

The obvious way that brands leverage sound is with a jingle. The McDonald’s “Ba-da-ba-ba-bah” tune is one of the stickiest to date. It creates so much brand recognition, one could even call it an audio logo.

Over the years jingles have been a powerful tool for brands, and we can thank our brains for that. Tunes and melodies get stuck in our head all the time, and years later we can still remember them. It’s remarkable how many times a song comes on that I haven’t heard or thought of in years, but my brain suddenly can remember the next word and melody. It’s fascinating to see brands leverage our brains by using music and sound to their advantage.

It’s more than just silly jingles, however. Coca-Cola, one of the world’s biggest brands, uses sound to add an entire dimension to the brand as a whole. Sounds of a bottle being opened as well as the drink being poured offer a multisensory experience that creates a unique and iconic landscape in which the brand lives.

Marty Neumeier — an author and authority on brand, design, innovation and creativity —defines a brand as “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization,” and I think sound is a great way to help drive a gut feeling about something. Great, iconic brands transcend pretty visuals and catchy copy. They leverage all our senses to create a whole that is greater than the sum of their parts.