The Importance of Sonic Branding

Audio consumption is experiencing a renaissance. Radio audiences are up, music streaming is ubiquitous and podcasts are playing an increasingly vital role in the way we consume news, opinion and entertainment.

This increase in listening figures throughout 2020 has naturally led to CMOs and agencies leaning on audio advertising as an important cog in their marketing machine. But, scratching beneath the surface, it is clear that audio advertising is still at a point of relative immaturity.

IAB Australia’s State of the Nation on Audio Advertising was released this week, highlighting a big opportunity for brands in 2021. ROI measurement is improving but new digital advertising channels such as podcasts and streaming are not yet being fully exploited creatively.

In fact, only 17% of respondents to IAB Australia’s annual survey indicated that they always tailor their creative to suit the specific audio channel.

Why is this? If they’ve invested in a strong creative concept, producing bespoke versions to suit each platform is relatively cheap.

And the benefits of a tailored approach are clear – as stated in the report and attributed to Kantar’s global cross-media effectiveness database:

“Campaigns where creative is customised to the media and creative elements are integrated well, will on average deliver 57% higher brand effectiveness results than campaigns that are not adapted to media context or well integrated.”

Creative designed to cut through in an ad-break can often be jarring in a solus environment where audiences are already leaning in.

Maybe it’s just early days, like we experienced when online video advertising was first introduced and brands simply used their TV ad. The rationale for this was ‘consistency’, but there’s a more powerful, longer term tactic to ensure all creative executions are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Reading on a couple of pages through the IAB’s State of the Nation report, it’s clear that this is where the biggest opportunity resides: only one third of advertisers are using sonic brand assets.

This statistic is surprising in a world where love for McDonald’s can be captured and conveyed in five notes, and in a couple of beats, Netflix can elicit excitement and anticipation in our content-craving subconscious.

It’s even more surprising given that the primary objective stated by brands for using audio advertising is for increasing brand awareness.

Elsewhere, a recent IPSOS study on advertising effectiveness entitled The Power of You posits that content featuring sonic brand assets (audio logo, brand anthem, distinctive brand voice, etc) is 8.34 times as likely to be effective.

Two-thirds of brands are clearly missing a trick.


How can brands build successful sonic brand assets?

Whether it is an audio logo (CommBank), an ownable voiceover (iiNet) or a bespoke piece of music (Bunnings), the first step is to create distinctive brand assets.

According to Professor Byron Sharp, a distinctive brand asset is defined as:

  • Unique – The element evokes the brand, and not competitors.
  • Famous – Most, if not all consumers should know the element represents the brand name.


In order to do that in audio, the essence of the brand must first be captured in sound. That defined sonic essence can then be used to create a set of distinct assets which resonate the brand’s personality at every touchpoint.

Establishing a recognisable sonic brand doesn’t happen overnight. But the right creative expression coupled with consistent and wide-ranging implementation helps to build attribution.

To help brands evaluate their sonic branding, we have created a four-step checklist which we call our pillars of sonic success:

  • Uniqueness: Do you have an ownable sound that helps you stand out?
  • Rapport: Does that sound build the right connection with your customers?
  • Consistency: Are your sonic brand assets being applied consistently across all touchpoints?
  • Time: Will your sonic brand stand the test of time as the business evolves?


Very few brands are strong in all four areas. Success across the board requires a strategic understanding of the value of sonic branding, the creative skill to capture the essence of a brand in sound, and a disciplined approach to brand governance. Getting it right however, can catapult your marketing to the top of the effectiveness charts and prepare your brand for a future in which audio is set to play an exciting role.


First published by Mumbrella. Read original here



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