6 Don’ts in Sonic Branding


By Colleen Fahey

Earlier this month, I outlined six actions to take to ensure you’re approaching your sonic branding system in a strategic way. In part two of our Dos and Don’ts guide, I’ve outlined six pitfalls to avoid as you build your brand’s sonic identity: 

  1. Don’t go for a blast of meaningless sound. Impact without meaning can be distracting and counter-productive. You’re striving to connect your audience with your brand at a profound level. You want your brand to be understood for what makes it special and what makes it stand apart. Ask yourself, “Is this adding brand value?”
  2. Don’t choose a piece of music just because you like it. Instead ask, “What does this music say about my brand?” “Can it draw attention?” If it leaves the listener questioning whether the music makes sense for you, it’s probably not right for your brand. What appeals to us as individuals doesn’t always mean it adds to your brand value. 
  3. Don’t repeat the same music mindlessly; always adapt it to the context of the message. There’s a reason people overwhelmingly dislike call hold music – usually the loops are too short and the music too aggressive. You can make the experience less boring with more auditory surprises and longer compositions. In contrast, a TV commercial needs music that supports the flow of the story. And you can make both more branded – by building them around your own core sonic identity. A set it-and-forget-it approach never works. 
  4. Don’t neglect a measurement mechanism. Even a quick online survey will help provide the answers to the question, “Is the brand conveying its specific values better than before?” Sonic branding is a tool like visual branding, and requires regular evaluation and retooling when needed. A commitment to simple, consistent tracking studies can indicate the sonic’s brand’s performance over time. 
  5. Don’t confuse sonic branding with entertainment. It’s not just about putting a trendy song in a trendy ad. It’s a language. It has a job to do, and that job is brand enhancement. Going back to no. 4, it’s part of your marketing tool belt, with a tangible impact on business. It doesn’t have to be pretty or popular but, instead, offer a competitive advantage.
  6. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Think about what sets your brand apart from your competitors and how those differentiators can help you win. For some companies, humor might be just the ticket, for others it might be precision, and yet others might need to convey grandeur.  Figure out what values make your brand appeal to your specific target audience, and design your brand’s sound around those. 

© Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash