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A Guide to Audio Branding

A Guide to Audio Branding

Written by

James Picken


August 11, 2023



Have you heard of it? Let’s take a look at what audio branding is, some examples that you might recognise, and why it’s so effective.

So by now we’re all familiar with the power of music when it comes to how your brand is perceived and your customers’ behaviour. Right? 

We all have songs that we associate with certain brands - like Have Love Will Travel for LV Insurance, or In The Air Tonight for Cadbury. It doesn’t even have to be a song - sometimes, just a sound will make you instantly recall a company. 

Let’s look at the power of audio branding. 

What is Audio Branding?

Essentially, audio branding - otherwise known as sonic branding - is when a company uses a sound to define or strengthen their identity. It can be used at any point of the customer experience, helping to reinforce the brand. 

Audio branding can include jingles, sound logos, a particular voice or a style of sound. They play a big role in things like advertisements, and can be a very useful tool for marketing strategies. 

Audio/sonic branding is any sound or music that you recognise and associate with a specific brand.

Examples of Audio Branding 

Let’s start with sonic logos - these are often the quickest way to memorably convey company identity in just a few seconds. Think Netflix’s ‘ta-dum’ on load-up and at the start of episodes, or McDonald’s ‘bada ba ba ba, I’m lovin’ it’, used in their advertisements. McDonald’s is a great example of the sonic branding representing the emotions the brand want to trigger - it’s upbeat, happy and catchy. 

Here are some examples that you might not even have twigged as sonic branding - they’re so subtly embedded in the branding. 

Audio branding can also include voices, like the Amazon Alexa voice, or the voice of the London Underground. It even includes sounds like your car door shutting, or the clicking of your keyboard. 

The music played in your stores is also sonic branding - that’s why it’s so important to get it right. The songs customers associate with the brand can have a huge influence on how they perceive it or behave.

What are the benefits of Audio Branding? 

The most obvious benefit of audio or sonic branding is brand recall. Brands that use music that is aligned with the brand identity are 96% more likely to be remembered by the consumer than the brands that use unfit music or no music at all. You can probably remember a jingle from a brand’s advert 10 years ago, but might struggle to remember what you had for breakfast yesterday. And unlike visual content that your customers may need to actively sit down and pay attention to, sonic elements can be effective in the background. 

According to research conducted by YouGov, 20% of young adults are more inclined to choose or buy a product from a brand with a sonic identity compared to those without, and 1 in 3 adults feel more positive towards brands with a sonic identity. 

It isn’t just useful for brand recognition, it’s also great for brand identity. Picking the right sound with the right connotations can help influence the way customers perceive you. 

There’s so much research to back up the use of sonic branding. Songs, melodies and rhythms create strong connection points to our memories and emotions, so the use of music in the branding process is very important. 

Audio branding can drive familiarity and help your customers connect to your brand on an emotional level. 

It’s important to consider what elements of audio branding work for you. Whether it’s a jingle, a product related sound, or the music playing in your stores, not all types of sonic branding will work for every brand. With a solid understanding of your brand identity and the impact you want to have on your customers, explore what works for you. And we’re always here to help.

A Guide to Audio Branding

James Picken

Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.

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