Store motto or slogan?  Check.  Logo?  Check.  Easily identifiable business color scheme?  Check.  Signature scent?  Possibly.  Sonic Brand?  Wait … what?!

The term “sonic branding” has been gathering steam in the marketing world for the last several years, but to many small-brand owners, the concept is new.  Many business owners think their brand consists of a few standard elements, including colors, fonts, graphics, an image style and brand messaging.  This is especially true in the jewelry industry. Humans are visual people, and we’re blessed to work in an industry that is based on images, which makes our products easier to sell.

One of the clearest ways to define a brand is through visuals, but over the last few years, big brands have been turning that theory on its head and saying goodbye to the days of marketing themselves with just words and images. Today, they are embracing the idea of selling themselves with sound.

The rise of sonic branding makes sense when you consider that music transcends every language, culture and generation.  Music connects people from every corner of the earth, and can create a lasting impression beyond linguistic boundaries.

A well designed sonic brand, or sonic messaging as it is referred to now, can convey a brand’s image in seconds, and lets your clients know who you are and what you stand for.  Sonic branding reaches a place in the brain that visual branding can’t begin to approach. 

Take Visa for example.  A little more than two years ago, Visa rolled out its own version of sonic branding which combined sensory elements including sound, animation and haptic (vibration) which combined together in a format that was used to signify a completed transaction in digital and retail environments.  The goal with this branding was to appeal to the emotions and the senses, so customers could “see, hear and feel,” the Visa brand at work.

Visa spent more than a year developing a less-than-a-second sound that identifies their brand, and signals “speed and convenience.”

Interestingly, consumer research conducted after the Visa sonic branding was introduced showed:

  • 83% of respondents said the sound or animation cues ‘positively impacted’ their perception of the Visa brand.
  • 81% said they would have a more ‘positive perception’ of merchants who used either the sound or animation cue.
  • Less than a second in length, the sound of Visa was found to signal ‘speed and convenience’.
  • The haptic technology (vibrations) incited feelings of “happiness” and “excitement” during exposure among consumers.

Not wanting to be left behind, just one month after Mastercard refreshed its logo, and announced a shift away from using the brand name, the company introduced more brand identity news when it released its own sonic branding.

“Just as people all over the world recognize our red and yellow circles, they will now come to associate our unique sound as Mastercard every time they hear it,” said Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar.

As part of the 18-plus-month process of creating a sound that would resonate with a global audience, Mastercard worked with agencies, artists and musicians around the world, including Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda. “What I love most about the Mastercard melody is just how flexible and adaptable it is across genres and cultures,” Shinoda said in a statement. “It’s great to see a big brand expressing themselves through music to strengthen their connection with people.”

Sonic branding, audio logos, and jingles are not a new concept.   Almost everyone recognizes the network sound of a phone connected to AT&T when you turn on or reboot it, the distinctive tones of the iPhone Marimba ringtone, and Intel’s familiar three-note signature at the end of commercials. What’s changing is that the conversation revolving around signature sounds is getting louder, as more businesses are working to figure out new ways to connect with consumers as they interact on a day to day basis with the world around them.

It’s well understood that sound has a huge impact on behavior and perception. Auditory neural pathways are less complex than their visual counterpart, which means people react to sound 10 to 100 times faster than sight. The human brain is wired to react to sound, identify and categorize it, so as sonic branding continues to evolve, your ears will easily be able to identify a brand before your eyes can.

So what implications does sonic branding have within the jewelry industry?  The possibilities are exciting, and endless.  Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine what “Tiffany Blue,” would sound like.  Or how about the sound of a diamond waterfall?  What sound would gold make, and how would that differ from the sound of platinum?  Gemstones are available in every color you can imagine, and sounds associated with each would be as unique and exciting as they are.

As the practice of sonic branding becomes more widespread, it will be interesting to watch how it affects the current state of marketing in our industry, and how consumers respond to the “sound” of jewelry, diamonds, precious metals and gemstones.

Want to know more about what Sonic Branding can mean for your business, have questions about this article or want to suggest a topic for me to cover in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at today!

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