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Sonic Branding Agency Unmute

Sonic Logo On The Rise

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Sonic logo has emerged as the new sherif in town when it comes to key elements in audio branding. The ultra short, instrumental brand signifier which seems to fit perfectly with the demands and requirements in todays digital marketing.

sonic logo and sonic branding is a way to stand out

The audible DNA string

You have probably stumbled upon at least one of the following phrases: sound logo, mnemonic, audio logo, sound trademark, acoustic signature, sonic logoand most likely other similar ones.

These are all interchangeable labels in circulation, describing the same rapidly growing phenomenon of using a short-lasting (typically between 2 and 6 seconds) and rounded sound event to aurally connote a given brand. This definition also distinguishes it from other auditive brand elements such as brand song/music or background music—which are often longer-lasting.

The most frequent use is found in the classic audio-visual symbiosis: A brand’s visual logo accompanied by a distinctive sound or melody.

(We won’t mention the extremely tarnished examples of Intel and McDonald’s so here is a slightly tarnished one instead:)

A great contemporary example is the Netflix “Ta-Dum” sound kinda reminiscent of the percussive hits of the Universal Studios ‘ballyhoo-fanfare’ and excitement-inducing sustain from the THX Deep Note—both classics in cinematic culture.

An equivalent to the visual logo

The fact that a sonic logo can be seen as an acoustic equivalent of a visual logo and because they often play into each other’s hands—providing a multi-sensory enhanced brand asset—explains the reason behind the highly used “logo” in the name.

Moreover, we often see sonic logos as an integrated part of a holistic sonic identity and sometimes they can even be the pivot, since they are able to express the very motif (a short musical idea or melody) of such identity.

Check this one out! The Renault sonic logo is used as the main musical idea (melody) for the background music of the brand film forming a synthesis and defining an auditive identity.

Sonic logo is short for sonic branding

Two major functions are relevant to highlight when seeking to understand how a sonic logo works in the wild: One is namely of a ‘heraldic’ function: drawing the listeners attention to whatever the logo is a logo for, whether a company, product, organisation, service, radio/TV, et cetera, and the other one is regarding identity: Aurally expressing the values of the brand in question.

As a guideline we at Unmute like to divide sonic logos into melodic or sonorous according to which one of them is most significant. We can then determine their sonic character depending on whether the function is as an opener or a sign-off:

The opener is often powerful (like the melodic 20th Century Fox fanfare) or suspenseful (like the sonorous Netflix and THX) to indulge excitement and anticipation. The sign-off, on the other hand, is more free and varying and it is the most common one in advertising today—Renault’s sound logo would fit in this category as a melodic sign-off.

Primacy & Recency

The recency and primacy effect play an important role in sonic branding, especially when creating and understanding a sonic logo. The primacy effect refers to the tendency for people to remember the first information they receive in a series better than information that comes later. The recency effect, on the other hand, refers to the tendency for people to remember the most recent information they receive better than information that came earlier.

sonic logo as primacy and recency

Therefore it's crucial that the beginning and the ending of the sonic logo is just as meaningful as the actual content in the middle. Understanding these psychological concepts can help marketers and designers create and utilize a sonic logo that resonates with listeners, reinforces the brand identity, and ultimately drives business success.

The Mere Exposure Effect

Another important factor when establishing a succesful sonic logo is the psychological phenomenon called The Mere Exposure Effect. It describes how people tend to develop a preference for things they are repeatedly exposed to. This means that the more someone is exposed to something, the more they tend to like it, even if they aren't consciously aware of it.

A successful sonic logo lives of exposure. Without it’s nothing. So in the context of sonic branding, the mere exposure effect can influence how well a sonic logo creates brand recall over time. If a sonic logo is consistently used across different touchpoints, such as in commercials, videos, and other marketing materials, it becomes more familiar to listeners. Over time, the repeated exposure to the sonic logo can create a sense of familiarity and comfort in listeners, even if they are not actively paying attention to it.

sonic logo in a crowded place

This familiarity can increase the likelihood of brand recall, which refers to the ability of a consumer to remember a brand or product when they encounter a related stimulus, such as the brand's logo, packaging, or in this case, its sonic logo. The more a sonic logo is played and heard, the more likely it is to create a lasting impression in the listener's mind, leading to better brand recall over time.

When designing a sonic logo, you need to create a sound that is both memorable and distinctive. But the real effect is only achieved after a consistent use over a longer period of time. By consistently using this brand asset across different touchpoints, a brand can leverage the mere exposure effect to create stronger emotional connections with its audience, ultimately leading to better brand recall and loyalty.

Here's a classic example of a sonic logo that scores high on brand recall through consistent and extensive use. And now synonymous with the actual product and service.


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