Audio Branding: The What, The Why, And The ROI

February 15, 2024

In today's rapidly changing marketing landscape, staying ahead of the curve is essential for brand success. One area that has seen remarkable evolution is the use of sound in branding. From the humble jingle to the comprehensive world of audio branding, sound has experienced transformation in the marketing realm that continues to evolve in importance and brand strategy.

The What

Audio branding encompasses a range of auditory elements that work together to create a cohesive brand identity:

Audio Logo: Like the visual logo, and audio logo is a brief, unique sound or melody that represents the brand. Intel's iconic chime is a prime example.

Brand Theme Music: Often used in commercials and marketing materials, brand theme music is a more extended musical piece that captures the brand's essence. Think of the distinct theme music associated with NBC or McDonald's.

Soundscapes: These are ambient sounds and effects that help set the mood and reinforce brand values. Starbucks, for instance, uses ambient café sounds to create a relaxed atmosphere in its stores.

Voice and Tone: The choice of voice, narration style, and tone in audio content also contributes to the overall auditory brand identity. Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, for instance, have distinct voices that align with their brands.

Sonic Guidelines: Just as brands have visual identity guidelines, they now also have sonic guidelines that govern how audio elements should be used consistently across platforms.

The Why

Numerous studies have demonstrated the profound impact of sound on human perception and behavior. By integrating audio branding into marketing campaigns, businesses can significantly enhance attribution. Associating your brand with a memorable audio signature can boost recognition and encourage consumers to attribute specific products or services to your company.

Visual branding and audio branding serve as powerful storytelling tools. When they work in tandem, they enhance the brands' ability to tell a cohesive and compelling story. This is particularly evident in advertising campaigns where visuals and sound complement each other to create a seamless narrative that resonates with the audience.

When combined, visual branding and audio branding create a holistic approach to storytelling that includes:

1. Enhanced brand recall and recognition

2. Heightened emotional connection

3. Consistent brand storytelling


Driving Recall and Memorability

Audio Advertising is 24% more effective at driving recall than display advertising alone. When a brand advertises using music that matches its brand identity, consumers are 96% more likely to recall the brand name, according to a study by Leicester University professors.

Ad Performance

According to Ipsos research, sonic brand cues are almost nine times more likely to perform well.

Efficiency of Spend

Inside Radio reports that a 1.2% shift of media investment to audio would cause a brands' return on ad spend to improve by up to 23%. Conducted by Neustar and commissioned by Audacy, the study looked at 40 advertiser models among audio, retail, financial service, and telecom categories. Results showed that appropriately curated audio boosted the performance of TV ads, paid search, and online video advertising in addition to dramatically improving a brand's return on advertising spend (ROAS).

What Does Your Brand Sound Like?

A recent example is our audio branding work with Fortune 50 nutrition and food processing company, ADM.

PLAY partnered with Cincinnati-based brand strategy company, LPK, to help ADM bring a sonic dimension to their brand identity, as they sought to better tell the story of their company and its vital role in the world. The resulting work led to a unified brand identity that drove brand awareness and received a letter Sound Award from the International Sound Awards in 2022. One of only two presented to U.S.-based companies. Click here to see our case study.

The award-winning work helped the business strengthen its audience-centric strategy. David Weintraub, director, global brand at ADM, commented, "While industry recognition is great, recognition among our audience is the goal here. We want them to recognize ADM and our value to them. Our sonic identity is helping us create a deeper connection with audiences, with an ownable, flexible, modern and fun tool that multiples the messaging value of every video."

At play audio agency, we believe in making the world a better sounding place. We are an award-winning creative audio agency specializing in audio branding, audio advertising, post-production, podcasting, and original music for brands of all shapes and sizes.