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The power of sonic branding

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

Attention to the potential of great sound in branding increases by the day, sound is going big in the general brandscape. A unifying audio branding strategy can heighten the recognizability, strengthen brand perception and secure a consistent brand experience.


What does your brand sound like?

Identity is synthesis. The amalgamation of distinct elements—holistic individuality. Identity is also concerned with recognition—identification and categorization, how a brand can exploit established identities and stand out with its own distinct elements when it is needed. The equilibrist of crafting great sound identity is a master at this.

Enough waffle.


Sonic identity, audio identity, sound identity, [insert synonym for sound] identity… You know the drill: Call it what you will—they are all synonymous with the basic principle of expressing the emotions and values of a brand through sound and music.


In a more general sense one could talk about sound identity as a brand’s soundscape—what does a given brand sound like? In order to answer that specific question one would need a coherent soundscape as example and this is exactly what a sound identity is: auditive coherence across all touchpoints and communication—contributing to a comprehensive brand experience. Because of this, the bespoke music of a sound identity is composed with branding, communication and multiple possible touchpoints in mind.



The human superpower

In a world where the auditive touchpoints are increasing in size with podcasts, music streaming, events et cetera (and this is without highlighting the obvious audio-visual touchpoints like TVC, apps and web content) sound as a brand asset is in great need of being scrutinized. As a matter of fact humans are actually evolutionized in such a way that we are more responsive to sound than for example visual stimuli:


If we look at the echoic memory, which is the sensory receptor where humans register auditory information (sounds), it is designed to remember auditory stimuli much better and longer than visual because of sound's short-lived nature. Hearing is also the fastest sense when it comes to recognition because of our ancestors' need for an emergency response system when navigating in the dark or hearing sound from behind or afar.


This doesn’t necessarily mean that sound is the brand asset in need of most attention, but it does put the older ways of neglecting sound into perspective. When brands invest so much time and money into getting the perfect visuals for their brand identity, it just seems incomplete and almost silly when the identity-potential of sound is not taken into consideration. It is also well-known that the wrong music can actually damage a brand.



Create meaning through sound

So how do you do it? How do you go about creating a sound identity? Obviously, because of the individual nature of such identity, it is always different exactly how it is done, but the jumping-off point could be described as follows:


We at Unmute use our formally trained ears to understand and document the soundscape of the market in question in order to analyze how to fit that market’s soundscape and where to differentiate in order to stand out in a healthy way.


Our iterative and co-creative process is used when creating the soundscape to achieve unique and perfect solutions. The knowledge and methodology draws, among other things, on cross-domain mapping, interdisciplinary fields of music and science, good taste and musicological ideas of how meaning is established in sound.