Understanding The Art and Science Behind Sonic Branding

brand-sound

 

"Having a strong voice is all about being a person that people can feel on the other side of the words."- Whitney Ryan

Take the logo away from the brand, and what else remains? Are the components identifiable in isolation? It is an important question because it gives you the perspective that a brand is so much bigger than its logo or packaging. However, when it comes to branding jingles and audios have created a special place for themselves. Close your eyes and listen to a lion’s roar, your mind will instantly remind you of MGM’s logo from your childhood, Disney's chime fills you with hope, and you can point to a Royal Enfield in a sea of people due to its peculiar sound.

brand-sound

Sound is not a stranger to branding. When the movie entered the market, people sat in cinema halls watching the silent films but the theatres were never truly silent because these moving pictures were accompanied by a pianist capturing every emotion as the story went along. In a nutshell, Sound is hard-wired with our emotional circuit. From acting as a stepping stone to building mood to acting as a defining element in the level of likeability, reliability, and even attractiveness, voice/tone is everything.

Once a popular medium to communicate emotions, information, and everything in between, Sound started to fade into the background with the advent of visual mediums. It has risen to power again and, the next era is upon us formally known as Sonic Branding or the ‘Age of Alexa’

In this article, let’s discuss this new era of Sonic branding, why it is so important and why should we all speak up.

What Is The Deal With Sonic Branding?

Sonic branding is a strategic use of music or audio that helps reinforce brand recognition in the minds of the users and enhances the consumer experience. A relatively unexplored aspect by marketers around the world, it is believed that 'sound' is an important factor influencing the purchasing behaviour as it is emotionally direct.

One of the industries that have mastered this art is film and television. From the triumphant horns of 20th Century Fox’s anthem to the melodious tune of Dharma Productions to Lion’s roar of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, sonic logos have become an intrinsic part of cinema.

Lion’s-roar-of-Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Some of the other brands that have integrated music/audio in their branding are McDonald's with its 'I'm lovin’ it' jingle, LG's playful tune, and Nokia's trademark ringtone that ruled over customers for a decade.

The realm of Sonic or Audio branding reins beyond jingles and chimes, it entails the creation of an entire audio language for the brand based on its essence, values, promise, and personality. It is the language that gets expressed across all touchpoints, from the websites and apps to trade shows to TV to the retail and even the product itself. Just as texts and visuals in a brand expression are optimized at each medium, the audio expressions are also sensitively adapted across the touchpoints, so they’re psychologically appropriate to the channel.

Why Is It So Important?

  • Sound is a more powerful medium than visual expression. Hearing involves receiving auditory information through ears but it is our brain that listens, filters focuses, remembers, and responds to it.
  • Sound is hard-wired into our brains, and can successfully build the mood. It creates a more immediate emotional impact on the consumer.
  • The right mix of sound/music can increase the understanding of what a brand stands for. Sound can prove to be a vital element in brand expression.
  • Brands should never underestimate sound rather it can be a deciding factor in the purchasing decision. The right use of the sounds can emanate and harness emotions like joy, trust, and nostalgia that can effectively help define a brand’s unique personality.

What Does Your Brand Sound Like?

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is. It is what consumers tell each other it is.” — Scott Cook

Whether you are in the process of creating a brand or looking forward to rebranding it, it is crucial to understand that branding is the emotional and psychological relationship created between you and your customers. It is the glue that holds your products, services, and content together. Ultimately the mission of branding is to distinguish you from the competition.

Like every great brand, your brand has a personality - a voice. Generally confused with the tone, a brand voice is a mission statement, whereas, the tone is the application of that mission. There is only one voice for your brand and many tones that helps define the brand voice. It mainly comprises the character, tone, language, and purpose, collectively, it shapes the overall voice of the brand.

voice-of-the-brand

To develop an effective sonic branding strategy, it is crucial to examine the culture, monitor the conversation, and relate with the community. In the context of branding -:

Culture is formed on the values that the company stands for? Mission, vision, and purpose set your company apart from all the others. It is also unique qualities that make your culture special.

Community is the set of people that the brand directly caters to. To create an effective sonic strategy, listen to what the community says about the brand and how they express it. This will help you engagingly approach the community as you speak their language.

Conversation stands for content that you put out to identify with your community’s shared values, demographics, geological location, passion, and subjects that are important to them.

Voice-Characteristic

The true test of a sonic branding strategy is through its brand conversations. If the conversation is effective and robust enough, the content created for interactions is engaging, for the current world, so is the sound. Next time, when you are binge-watching Netflix, opening a coke, or paying through Google Pay, pay attention to how you interact with the brand and its sound. What sort of tone, verbiage, and level of playfulness or seriousness do you find appropriate. Most likely, someone engineered it for the brand taste, elevating the customer’s experience, and reaching the ultimate goal - satisfaction.

Coca-Cola-Brand

If your brand doesn’t have a sonic identity already, now is the time to start thinking about one. As audio technology is on the rise with podcasts, Spotify, and SoundCloud, the audio will become more embedded in our lives. Having a distinctive audio trademark will prove to be an essential branding tool. Similar to the logo, colours, and typeface, a strong sonic brand creates consistency, differentiation, and familiarity across platforms. When done right, your efforts can reap rewards for years to come.

If you wish to rebrand your own business whether it is a logo redesign, a website redesign, refreshed messaging, or a complete brand makeover, it’s time you get in touch with professional branding agencies like Vowels to make your vision come true. We specialize in brand consultancy, strategy, brand guidelines, CI manual, brand presentation, and corporate branding.

Evolution Of Design System – From Print To Digital Era

Evolution-Of-Design-System

 

Brands and products have evolved and developed drastically over time to keep up with our changing world. Companies like Airbnb, Google, and Uber have changed the way to design digital products by incorporating their own identity into the design systems. Whether it is updating to a modern typeface or removing components that no longer support the product’s goal, small and incremental changes are crucial to satisfy a user's need and easy accessibility.

Evolution-Of-Design-System

However, the Digital Design System has not always been at the forefront of product development, the evolution has been complex. Design systems existed in a time where digital was considered a ‘side’ project. Where a meticulous 300 pages guideline was created for the print and digital was non-existent. Times have changed now, digital is the future and brands have realized that a process can be manageable when strategically planned. 

Let’s dig into the fundamentals of design systems, plan how you can build and implement one in your organization, and explore several ways your organizations can use design systems to drive success. But first… 

What Is A Design System?

A design system is a series of components that can be reused in different combinations. Usually done as part of a larger branding process, Brand Design Systems are created by understanding the strategic business goals, organizational structure, and specific communications that are unique to the needs of a brand, then an integrated set of tools, templates, and guidelines are designed to support them. 

What-Is-A-Design-System

The design systems that we are talking about here are specific to digital products — websites, applications, etc, and the people who are closely associated are those who work on digital design, user experience, front-end development and other interactive designs. 

Why Do You Need It?

Generally confused with a Style Guide or Pattern Library, Design systems are a great tool to align the flow between design and development teams by simplifying processes, making them more efficient. Since the basics are covered it allows teams to focus on solving more complex problems. 

Reasons to use a design system:

  • Creates brand consistency across multiple products
  • Act as a tool for designers and developers
  • Creates a consistent source of information
  • Improves communication and simplify the workflow between teams
  • Builds in efficiency and speed, which reduce costs
  • Increases communication between development and design

What Kind Of Design System Do You Need?

Collaboration is at the core of any design system. But before that, it is important to understand that a design system is unique to every product.

Do you need a strict system where there is full synchronization between design and development or a loose system that leaves space for experimentation?

Does your product need a modular system where components are reusable and interchangeable, perfect for projects that adapt to multiple user needs, or an integrated system that focuses on a unique context?

The requirement for a design system can also change with the size of the organization. In a centralized model, one team is in charge of the system and its evolution whereas, in a distributed model, several people of several teams are in-charge with a team leader responsible for cohering the overall vision.

What Is Inside A Design System?

The fundamental purpose of a Design System is to facilitate the work of the teams and encourage effective communication. So the first question you need to ask ourselves is not “what should I put inside my Design System?” but “who is going to use it and how effectively?

  • A Sense Of Purpose and Shared Values

    While developing a digital product like a website or app, several teams are involved, and they must share a common goal. It will help to build a vision, make the decisions seem a lot less daunting, and make your process much more efficient. As for the values, they are like the ideals that will guide our choices. In terms of the people, a brand value translates to team value seamlessly. 

  • Design Principles

    A Design System is the single source of truth that groups all the elements that will allow the teams to design, realize, and develop a product. The inclusion of design principles helps teams make meaningful design decisions.

    Example: In the case of the publishing platform, Medium, who believes in the design principle of "direction over choice" opted for a minimalist text regulator design in the sea of unlimited choices of colours and fonts because the purpose of the product is to focus on the articles rather than the visual aesthetics.

    Design-Principles

  • Brand Identity

    A design system is diligently maintained guidelines that are in complete synchronization with business objectives and marketing strategy. A well-designed design system is similar to building a house where a strong foundation leads to the success of the structure in the long run. Hence, before you start thinking about what components you will need in the toolkit, start by identifying the foundational elements that will be the baseline of your communication. 

    Some of the basic elements of brand identity are:

    Voice and tone

    Sound

    Colours

    Typeface

    Photography and Illustration

    Iconography

    Animations

    Brand-Identity

  • Components

    Components and patterns are at the heart of the Design System. They are more like LEGO blocks - every piece has a specific function. May it be your in-house team or a branding agency, this is the time when you sit with a multidisciplinary team, whiteboard, and delegate the work. 

    Some of the potential components are: 

    Navigation

    Buttons

    Dialogue boxes and forms

    Feedback and alerts

    Data display

    Tables

Why Is It So Relevant Today?

The desire to control the components and factorizing design is not a new concept but has gained popularity in the designing community in recent years. Modern Design System is a direct descendant of the Graphic guidelines from times of print media. However, in the digital age, the design is more powerful than ever. Design systems have the power to transform a typical organization into a powerful product design force. In today's oversaturated market, it lays a solid design foundation that sets you apart and leaves you with a valuable life lesson - never stop shaping and updating—that is where evolution exists.

If you wish to create your own design system or rebrand your own business whether it is a logo design, a website development, refreshed messaging, or a complete brand makeover, it’s time you get in touch with professional branding agencies like Vowels to make your vision come true. We specialize in brand consultancy, strategy, brand guidelines, CI manual, brand presentation, and corporate branding.