Please, Stop Saying Sonic Logos Should Sing Product Names


By Colleen Fahey

Suddenly, many respected industry practitioners are saying sonic logos that verbalize a company’s name are better than those that don’t.

I’d like to offer a couple cautions about that point of view, because that decision is a strategic one, and I’d hate to see brands hurtle haphazardly into a path that’s wrong for them.

  1. If your brand, like most luxury and beauty brands, wishes to invite people to use their imaginations to step into an aspirational world, it’s better to let the music implicitly create that dreamworld rather than to explicitly say the name of the product. In these cases, the product name would reduce the magic and commercialize the brand impression. Merrell Shoes does a good job transporting customers to an aspirational place, by sonically creating the sense of enjoyment of the outdoors that’s all around us. This feeling relates to more universal emotions about enjoying nature with friends – not standing atop a mountain peak you’ve just conquered. It’s not directly about their shoes. Instead, it links to the values that the brand shares with their customers. This approach creates a deeper attachment than merely stating the name. Here’s the Merrell sonic logo
  1. If your brand is global and pronounced differently in different markets, (imagine “Bahby Bel,” “Baby Bel,” “Buhby Bel”), then unless you have deep pockets and a disciplined global branding team, it may be more practical not to try to nail the pronunciation for each market, but to express it in a more universal way through music. Or merely hint at it. Listen to Baby Bel’s sonic logo.
  1. But if, like Sparkling Ice, many consumers think your brand name is actually just “ICE” then it’s definitely time to sing or speak your brand name, and even make sure that the “ing” at the end of “Sparkling” lands on the same note as “ICE.”  Try to sing their new sonic logo without joining the words! 

Would the Nike swoosh, the Apple bitten apple or the Target red target be better logos if they included the words “Nike,” “Apple,” and “Target”? I think you’d agree they’d be weaker. So, please, don’t jump to conclusions about words in sonic logos just yet.

The tools for measuring Sonic Branding are still evolving. They’re definitely helpful, but many research teams have yet to develop the subtle and sophisticated measures we’ll need in order to create effective and long-lasting audio logos. In this young business, it’s just too early to begin creating hard-and-fast rules about something as important as a logo.

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash