Sight + Sound: How a Unified Brand Experience Drives Attribution and Powers Sales

October 10, 2023

When audio branding and visual branding work together cohesively, a symphony of sensory experiences emerges, creating a unified brand experience that transcends traditional marketing efforts. Most of us are pretty familiar with how brands look and what they say, but have you ever wondered about their sound?

Sonic Identity: The Sound of Your Brand

Sonic identity can be defined as the art of harnessing auditory elements such as audio logos, powerful soundscapes, branded music, and carefully selected vocal talent to enhance brand recognition, foster affinity, and ultimately drive purchase intent. Research has shown that audio cues often outperform their visual counterparts in conveying messages effectively. Surprisingly, even in the era of screenless, voice-driven computing, Ipsos reports that fewer than 10% of brands capitalize on the inherent strengths of sound.

Faced with our own rebranding challenge in early 2023, we partnered with brand and innovation consultancy, LPK, to establish our new visual identity. Then, we turned to our brand fundamentals and used our own sonic tools on ourselves.

Audio Branding: Enveloping the Senses

Audio (often called sonic or sound) branding refers to the strategic use of sound elements to represent and reinforce a brand’s identity. Just as visual branding employs logos, colors, and design elements, audio branding harnesses sound cues such as jingles, sonic logos, and brand-specific musical themes, to evoke emotions, increase recognition, and foster a deeper connection with the audience. 

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.

An article published by The Drum in this year, "Sound Investments: Just How Effective is Audio Branding?" indicates a 22% increase in brands launching sonic identities. This is supported by the fact that global giants like American Express, Frito-Lay, Singapore Airlines, Betway, General Mills, and Walmart have all significantly increased their sonic investments. Marketers have realized that recognition and memorability can come through sound across a multitude of different consumer touchpoints.

Amplifying Brand Recall and Memorability

The true power of sonic branding lies in its ability to evoke emotions and create lasting memories. A strategic, well-crafted sonic identity can evoke feelings of trust, excitement, or nostalgia, fostering a deeper connection with your audience.

An article published by AdAge in April 2023, "Your Brain on Sound: Marketing and the Neuroscience of Sonic Identity," indicates audio advertising is 25% more effective at driving recall than visual advertising alone. Sonic brand cues are almost 9x more likely to deliver a high-performing ad. Brands that use music matching their brand identity are 96% more likely to be recalled than those with non-fit or no music.

A classic example of successful audio branding is Intel’s five-note sonic logo, "The Wave," which has become synonymous with the brand and elicits almost instant recognition. While only the "tip of the iceberg" of a fully realized audio brand, consistent use of their audio logo across almost all of their consumer touchpoints has strengthened the association between brand and consumer.

A sound, Cost-Effective Strategy

While marketing budgets are often a consideration, developing an audio brand doesn’t need to be an expensive endeavor. In fact, it can be a cost-effective strategy in a company’s marketing mix. Thanks to the digital revolution, audio branding elements can be reused and repurposed across various platforms, reducing the need for multiple expensive productions. Leveraging social media and streaming platforms, businesses can reach a vast audience without significant expense.

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 ROAS.

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

When Strategy Comes to Life

As the marketing medium landscape becomes increasingly complex, a cohesive brand experience that captures hearts, demands attention and drives recall is more critical than ever.

A recent example is our audio branding work with global Fortune 50, ADM. PLAY and LPK partnered to help ADM, a global leader in human and animal nutrition, 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 ‘Better Sound’ Award from the International Sound Awards | Audio Branding Academy in 2022. One of only two presented to US-based companies.

The award-winning work helped the business strengthen its audience-centric strategy, said David Weintraub, Director, Global Brand at ADM: "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 multiplies the messaging value of every video."

Want to explore how audio branding can bring new dimension to your brand and drive growth? Contact us at:

Play Audio Agency

(513) 241-7475

About LPK

LPK is a brand and innovation consultancy that believes every change is an opportunity for growth. Through brand strategy, design and innovation, we help businesses shift from who they are today to who they’re meant to be tomorrow.

About PLAY Audio Agency

PLAY Audio Agency is an award-winning creative audio agency specializing in audio branding and design, audio advertising and communications, music, and podcast for B2B, B2C, and agency partners of all shapes and sizes.