What's That Noise?

What do NBC, Intel and Alka-Seltzer have in common? Bet you hear their sonic branding in your head as you read the names. The NBC chime, the Intel start-up noise and the Alka-Seltzer fizz and plop are synonymous with these massive brands. Sonic branding could be right for you, too.

Let’s start with a basic definition of Sonic Branding as defined by Man Made Music in the Brandchannel series. 

son·ic brand·ing - The strategic use of music and sound to help brands better engage with their desired audiences, achieved through the use of proprietary and/or familiar sound and music that over time becomes increasingly associated with a brand in media and experience activations.

Is sonic branding important for Millennials? You betcha! For an audience that consumes music at a rate that outpaces that of Boomers and Gen X’rs; and is voraciously consuming online video; they not only appreciate a well-crafted sonic experience, but expect it. Fitting into their musical universe is key to whether or not you capture their attention for those fifteen or thirty seconds. 

Kevin Perlmutter from Man Made Music reminds us that while it’s important to spend time on the visual and verbal identity of a brand, the sonic identity can get overlooked. Can’t say I disagree with that. The visual and verbal often takes precedence with the development of traditional brand assets, butdon’t forget the sonic identity which can play a key role in as MMM puts it – “enhancing emotional connection that builds brand attribution, and results in better conveying your unique brand story.” We in the broadcast business agree. Shocker, huh!?

So, I went to our resident sonic identity guru – Jason Dildine, Entercom Seattle’s Director of Production – and asked for some words of wisdom, and how he goes about helping advertisers discover, or accentuate, their sonic identity.

We invest a lot of time in imaging the stations to reflect our audiences. When crafting an advertiser’s message we are thoughtful and considerate of how their message appeals to our listeners. We don’t do “boiler plate” copy and commercials. We want their message to be consumed by our audience; just as our music is. It’s why we’re so passionate about being a part of the creative development process.

The sound of a commercial - from the voice and the style of the voice, to the music or sound design we choose for the client is all intentional. I wouldn’t choose a heavy metal approach for something that is going to appeal to the very diverse audience we have on The End. I don’t think we have to “dumb it down” for our audience, and we don’t clutter up the message because that distracts from the purpose of the commercial. We talk like our audience, because we are our audience. Even our clients are consumers, so we ask the question, “would you buy that if you heard that on the radio?” It’s all very critical to our way of thinking.

There is no one size fits all. If that were the case, we’d all be wearing burlap sacks and ropes to cinch the sack around our bodies. There’s nothing unique when you just spit words into a microphone. That’s a disservice to the audience, our clients and ourselves. Unique, original, one-of-a-kind. No two spots, nor two clients, are the same, even if they share the same type of business. This is where I can emphatically say companies are people. This is where it matters most.

If you’re looking for support in defining your sonic identity or your marketing persona in general, we’d invite you in to one of our marketing workshops – a session comprised of a group of talented people who represent our programming, creative, marketing and sales departments. In it, we’ll do a deep dive needs analysis to uncover new opportunities to grow your business.

Lastly, I want to apologize in advance to PNW readers of this post if all the 'sonic' reference opens any wounds about our beloved basketball team. Not my intention. #BringBackOurSonics