Sound branding is the latest trend to come along carrying the much-ballyhooed brand moniker. While some people still seem to scoff at these concepts, the fact is sound branding has been around for a long time, it just had a different name. Companies have used jingles since the 1920’s, which according to research is the same time US radio started containing commercials; and it makes perfect sense. Listening to some droll announcer talk about your product isn’t going to get people excited. Having a catchy tune sung to them will however, and those catchy tunes get stuck in your head.

What is “sound branding”?

Sound branding is the use of sound to reinforce brand identity.

As heard in traditional media

Just the other day I was in a bar, and these two older gentlemen were singing the Narragansett Beer TV jingles from the 1970s. Howard Stern famously lampooned the WNBC station ID’s in the film Private Parts, but the ID’s are an important part of the stations brand, and therefore a part of its Sound Brand. These distinctive Sound Brands stay with us FOREVER. We remember them fondly, and can quickly recall the tune, words, and tag of these Sound Brands.

Sound branding in a social media world

With TV, YouTube, mobile apps, and websites, the ability to promote your sound brand is infinite. Tying the visual aspects of your brand to the aural aspects can really put you in the forefront in today’s business world. Standing out in the world is of the utmost importance.

Sound branding is for every company and person

The biggest companies in the world have sound brands, and not all are related to jingles. Start up your computer. That sound you hear? It’s a brand. Turn on your phone, and what you’re hearing are the distinct sound brands of every different phone company (depending on what phone you have). They each contain their own unique sound brand. Harley Davidson has a sound trademark on the noise their V-twin engines make, and they applied for it in 1994! Larger corporations are aware of how important it is to build a sound brand into their overall branding platform, and it’s important for any company, artist, and person to establish a sound brand.

Each company has a different capacity for which a sound brand can work. Depending on how far your company wants to pursue new media, there are levels of establishing your sound brand. If you have a product that has a distinct sound or tune, you can build that brand up. If you own a restaurant, and want to start advertising on TV and radio, you can get a jingle to establish your brand. It’s time for companies to start thinking about how they want to develop their sound brand, and how often they want people to hear the music associated with their company.

Now I want to make something clear. I didn’t go to business school. I didn’t major in marketing, or business ethics. I am a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and no, I didn’t major in music business. I majored in “contemporary writing and production,” and I had a few classes where we were required to write, you guessed it, jingles.

Sound branding for marketing purposes

As a musician we were told that more than 70% of the battle would be convincing a potential client the benefit of having a jingle. We had to learn to market ourselves. Writing the music was the easy and exciting part. Selling a company on “why” was the hard part. The weird thing? Why wouldn’t you want such a distinctive marketing tool? And then I started taking it a step further. Why not mobile apps? Why not distinctive ring tones? Why not build a FULL assault on a company’s sound brand. As a musician this meant a lot of opportunities to express myself creatively.

So how can I make the musicians job that much easier? By showing companies not that they might want a sound brand, but that they need a sound brand. Think of all the major corporations across every type of business platform that already have one. They give those companies a perception of being important, successful, and ahead of the game. It’s time for companies to jump on the same bandwagon, and establish themselves the same  way.

Getting started

So now that you’ve begun thinking you want to develop your sound brand, you’re asking yourself “How do I get started?” Or maybe you’re a musician who wants to help some upcoming or established companies build those brands? Well the best tools are readily available to us and for free: social media. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc. We still need to connect the composers to the clients. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, you need to promote your skills, or company, and make it clear you want this type of service. Companies, there are plenty of amazing writers out there, hungry to help make your sound vision come to life. Composers, make yourself available, ready to work FOR the client, and deliver the best product you can. In 40 years, sound branding may have a different name, but starting today I hope, it’ll have a cemented reputation: As an integral part of building your brand.