By David Courtier-Dutton, CEO, SoundOut
The value of sonic branding is growing apace, and this emerging world is currently at a crucial point in its development.
These audible logos have largely been the work of music creators and production agencies, who have, over time, become well-versed in the language of sonic branding. Such creatives have learnt how to apply strategic branding approaches to building a brief.
Composers are then given the job of subjectively interpreting these briefs to be expressed in sonic form. The next stage involves everyone having a listen, and through a largely subjective process, they all agree that they have nailed it.
Sonic brands are now considered a core brand asset, on the same level as visual identities such as logos and straplines. This has meant that agencies have been able to gain impressive revenues from big brand clients who are seeking to create new sonic identities. But increasingly, clients are also demanding proof of ROI in line with the level of investment.
That’s why there has been an increasing volume of demand for consumer insight elements to brands’ sonic branding projects. This demand led us to create our new study, the SoundOut Index, covering over 150 major sonic logos/mnemonics/signatures currently in usage across the US and UK. We took insights from over 30,000 consumers hosted on our 3.5 million-strong consumer testing platform.
Our exclusive technologies were used to measure each logo against a range of metrics, and we grouped these into three key measures:
- The intrinsic effectiveness of each logo – i.e. how good is it as a standalone musical asset (without brand association)
- The strength of personality that the logo communicated (i.e. its ability to land core brand attributes)
- The market penetration of the logo – or how well has the brand achieved recognition, and most importantly brand attribution with their logo.
Based on this methodology we learnt that Just Eat has the UK’s favourite sonic logo. This has been followed by AO.com (#2), GoCompare (#3), Moonpig (#4) and Pearl & Dean (#5). In contrast, the US’s favourites were dominated by movie brands. Disney leads the way and is followed by 20th Century Fox (#2), Goldfish (#3), Warner Brothers (#4), and Farmers (#5).
We also found there are common themes and distinct differences regarding how the US and the UK use sonic branding to target consumers.
Across the board ‘appeal’ is really important. As with all music, people must like your sonic identity – because the more they like it, the easier it is for them to recall it, and thus they will be quicker to recognise it. If they recognise it, they are one small step away from attributing it to your brand. If you achieve attribution, then the logo has hit the jackpot, releasing a flood of emotional brand association every time a consumer hears it.
How do you stand out from the crowd? Distinctiveness is regarded as an essential in branding, but our data says otherwise. It appears that distinctiveness has little or no role in driving recall, which is the first essential step towards attribution. The key attributes in the US that drive recall are ‘uncomplicated’, ‘friendly’ and ‘family orientated’. Meanwhile, in the UK they are ‘catchy’, ‘welcoming’ and ‘youthful’.
This highlights the fact that US consumers are most appreciative of simple, friendly and homely sonic logos, while in the UK sounds that are regarded as poppy, happy and youthful have the best chance of driving recall. Distinctiveness is ranked at a lowly 163 in the UK and 184 in the US (out of over 200 attributes) in its ability to drive recall.
It seems obvious to say that sonic logos that include the brand name are more memorable and easier to attribute. Indeed, the logos that contain the brand name are twice as effective at securing attribution (69%) than those that don’t. But one might also wonder why 31% of consumers fail to correctly attribute the brand when the brand name is being shouted in their ear.
An analysis of the leading sonic logos in The SoundOut Index revealed which Jungian archetypes tend to have the greatest impact on consumers in the US and the UK. 60% of the US’s top 10 performing sonic logos include a ‘companion’ archetype. However, 90% of the UK’s contain a ‘Jester’ archetype. This finding reiterates how the US resonates with ‘friendly’ logos while the UK is more stimulated by ‘poppy’, ‘youthful’ sounds.
Historically more of an art than a science, sonic branding is now coming of age. Brands and agencies are now understanding its importance and how the emotional power of sound can be harnessed to capture and influence consumer behaviour. In doing so, they will add a uniquely powerful new capability to their marketing arsenal.