Sonic Branding

Sonic branding is a form of music and sound that most people never think about. That moment where a song plays, and makes you think of a Lexus. That song that instantly brings back a certain afternoon with a high school sweetheart on the beach. The ping that says you have new email or the special sound a Mac makes when you turn it on. All of these are sonic branding.

I have a few clients who make a living creating sonic brands for commercials, products, moments in movies, events, and more. It fascinates me how music and sound affects us as humans. I mentioned the term sonic branding online the other day, and it sparked a very intriguing discussion about how sound affects the brain. Music has long been known to have ties to memory, emotion, and behavior. Is it any surprise that marketers and others have tapped into that over the years?

Where did the term sonic branding come from? I’m not sure – that’s just what I’ve always called it. It seems to make the most sense. That’s what it is, after all – auditory branding of a moment in time. If you follow Ze Frank‘s premise that branding is the emotional aftertaste left after a shared experience, which I do, this isn’t a great leap of logic.

From Ze Frank’s web series, The Show, August 29, 2006:

If the concept of sound interacting with the brain and all of the possibilities that entails is new to you, you may enjoy some of these books on the topic (disclosure, I use Amazon’s affiliate links to help feed my enormous book addiction):

The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination

The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit

There are many more books on the topic, but those will give you a good start. If I missed your favorite, add it in the comments below!

  • Helen

    Fascinating topic. I have a new sonic brand that I love, lately, and that's the sound of Skype loading. The sound of Skype calling will bring me running from anywhere in the house; I can hear it better than my portable phone. Why? Not sure. The particular sound, I guess. And, it heralds calls in video with two of my children who I don't see regularly. Nothing more rewarding than that, better than chocolate!
    A past example is the reason I once cancelled cable, years ago. I found that everytime I heard the Home Box Office sounds of popcorn popping, I would come running to see what movie was coming on next. I read about Pavlov's dog, ok? I didn't want to be one.

  • Skype sounds have a strange influence over me, too. Funny you should mention Pavlov – he made it into an article I wrote recently on the sounds of mobile phones: http://ow.ly/IJn1

  • Skype sounds have a strange influence over me, too. Funny you should mention Pavlov – he made it into an article I wrote recently on the sounds of mobile phones: http://ow.ly/IJn1

  • Excellent article. This is the future of music for artists!
    Well done

    Shayne Locke
    http://www.liquidonlinemedia.com