Brands are exploring auditory avenues to establish distinctive sonic identities, transcending the era of catchy jingles.
In an era dominated by visuals, the melodic charms and memorable jingles that once defined brands seem to have faded into the background. However, the use of sound has diversified, and brands are experimenting with auditory avenues in one way or another.
Mahindra, a prominent player in the automotive industry, has orchestrated a collaboration with the legendary composer AR Rahman to craft a distinctive sonic identity and brand anthem.
This multifaceted symphony incorporates more than 75 designed sounds, ranging from the subtle hum of electric vehicles to the visceral roar of their engines.
In another instance, Infosys, a global leader in digital services and consulting, has embarked on an auditory venture of its own. The company unveiled a sonic brand identity that complements its iconic blue visual identity and logo.
This sonic signature, akin to a melodic representation of their essence, is strategically designed to woo both generic consumers and prospective clients.
Interestingly, Infosys is a predominantly business-to-business company. With this new identity, the brand appears to have built a bridge between itself and the generic consumers, who aren’t necessarily its clients.
The new Infosys mogo (musical logo) has been crafted by Brandmusiq, an audio and sonic branding agency.
Rajeev Raja, the agency's founder, reveals to afaqs! that the process of Infosys’ auditory endeavour started with Brandmusiq first analysing the brand and then expressing its philosophy through music. This appears to be the agency’s standard practice.
According to Raja, “It is generally harder for brands to come up with briefs about sonic branding."
We’ve done a lot of research on how music, such as our Indian Raga system, affects human emotion. We studied that and created an equivalent expression with Western scale to make it more universal.Rajeev Raja, founder, Brandmusiq
This, he says, is primarily because of the intricately complex nature of music. “Brands aren’t able to completely make out the kind of music they want. So, instead of that, we started with the brand itself. We have a robust process of figuring out what the brand stands for and what it wishes to be perceived as aspirationally, and then we present it musically.”
Regarding the implementation process, Raja reveals, “We’ve done a lot of research on how music, such as our Indian Raga system, affects human emotion. We studied that and created an equivalent expression with Western scale to make it more universal.”
But where does sonic identity stand in a world of visuals? Despite the prevalence of visual branding, Raja contends that establishing a sonic identity is crucial to complement visual aesthetics.
He says, “If you look at the universe of brands, all of them have a visual identity. This includes well-thought-out logos, colour selection, and typography that reflects brand values. And yet, you count the number of brands with sonic identities in the world on your fingers.”
Raja suggests that this scarcity offers significant opportunities for brands willing to adopt sonic branding strategies.
Speaking on Mahindra’s efforts to build a separate auditory identity for its subsidiary Mahindra Electric, Raja opines that the exercise is a move in the right direction. “Mahindra’s new identity for its electric subsidiary signals their focus on a whole new space. The legacy brand Mahindra doesn’t necessarily have a strong sonic identity. Creating this new anthem for their electric vehicles makes the brand look fairly cutting-edge and futuristic.”
Vigyan Verma, founder, The Bottom Line, emphasises certain parameters necessary for creating a successful sonic identity, which he opines are succinctly met by Infosys.
He says, “With what Infosys has produced, you get a sense of a positive feeling. And that's exactly what they're talking about, as well. So there is clarity in what they're trying to go after.” Verma goes on to suggest that effective articulation should be concise, ideally within five or six words.
On Mahindra, Verma expresses that their collaboration with Rahman, a renowned musician guarantees great music and a lot of publicity. “But it still takes a fair amount of sharpness and clarity to make the endeavour worthwhile.”
Verma notes that the evolution of sound in branding has shifted from jingles and music-centred approaches to broader applications in customer experience and brand recall. “If you look at Paytm, you hear their signature sound at every point of sale. It is a brilliant reinforcement for brand recall. It’s instant, and it eliminates the chance of avoidance by customers.”
Sound has a profound impact on human emotions and memory, making it a potent tool for fostering engagement and loyalty. From the familiar jingles of iconic brands to the immersive soundscapes of modern entertainment, the sonic space has expanded its influence. But, are brands making the most of their auditory aura?
The visual clutter is insane. At the end of the day, when a brand is creating a piece of communication, it wants the people to retain it. More and more brands are looking at creating that little music mark for themselves.Naresh Gupta, co-founder and managing partner, Bang in the Middle
Naresh Gupta, co-founder and managing partner, Bang in the Middle, underscores the overabundance of visual stimuli in the industry, prompting brands to explore alternative avenues such as sound.
“The visual clutter is insane. At the end of the day, when a brand is creating a piece of communication, it wants the people to retain it. More and more brands are looking at creating that little music mark for themselves, just to stand out from the mix of competitors,” he explains.
Moreover, Gupta asserts that an innovative sonic identity can position a brand as progressive and engaging.
“It does two things for a brand. It makes you look progressive, where you’re constantly giving consumers reasons to engage with your brand. It also builds a slight amount of longish traction,” he adds.