Sonic Branding in Videos: Harnessing the Power of Signature Sounds


If you're looking for ways to develop and establish your Sonic brand as a video marketer or content creator, then you're in the right place.

This is the most comprehensive resource on sonic branding in videos. It covers:

  • An overview of sonic branding

  • Sonic Branding Myths

  • How To Engineer Sonic Branding Into Your Videos

  • Developing A Signature Sound

  • Maintaining Vs. Evolving Your Signature Sound

  • Tools For Sonic Branding In Videos

  • Sonic Branding Facts: Things You Did Not Know

  • Immutable Laws Of Sonic Branding


Sonic Branding: A Useful Introduction

Sonic branding refers to branding with audio. Businesses that build a sonic brand create soundscapes, tracks, or signature audio effects that make them instantly recognizable. Having a signature sound is pretty helpful with recall advertising. You can reach your prospective customers over audio media when visual advertising is not possible.

Signature sounds are not the only type of sonic branding tools available to marketers. Other auditory tools include signature music, the presenter's voice, and a voice tag. Music producers often rely on voice tags to "sign" the tracks they produce. Similarly, movie franchises rely on signature music to create an audio identity.

One of the points these examples illustrate is that Sonic Branding is everywhere. Not only can you witness it in TV programs, music videos, and radio ads, but you can hear it when you open a can of Coke or start up your Apple computer.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of branded sounds. The first is embedded in content, while the second is built into a company's products. Apple Computers and Windows PCs have their respective signature sounds. These are built into the products (computers).

On these computers, you can go to and watch a TV show you like. Before the show plays, you’ll hear the following sound.

This sound is embedded into the content hosted on Netflix.

Sonic Branding, whether it is a part of the product or the content, serves one purpose: it creates an association. You begin to associate using your Windows computer with the Windows startup sound and vice versa. This familiarity leads to affinity.

Branding experts came across Sonic Branding as an emergent phenomenon. And as time goes on it is becoming an increasingly engineered one. Sonic brands can be both emergent and engineered. Let’s take the Netflix startup sound as an example.

It is taken from the finale of the second season of House of Cards, a Netflix Original series. The sound wasn’t engineered to be the audio face of Netflix. It was emergent until it was selected. Then, the guys over at Netflix engineered it into the opening of every piece of Content on Netflix.

Similarly, Coca-Cola's sonic brand is engineered from naturally emergent sounds. The can opening and the fizz are two emergent sounds that Coke has now consciously engineered into its ads.

Picking an emergent sound that is already associated with you and plastering it all over your content is the fastest way to build a sonic brand.

And once you build an iconic sound to represent you, you can expect the following benefits:

  • Increased loyalty - Sonic branding inspires familiarity and helps cultivate a sense of loyalty.

  • Higher recall - Because you can reach customers via audio media in addition to visual media, you can earn greater top-of-mind awareness.

  • Greater advertising opportunities - It is easier to promote yourself via podcasts and radio when you have a signature sound.

Before moving forward, you should also consider the following drawbacks of Sonic Branding:

  • You might annoy your audience - Some sounds are naturally jarring, cringeworthy, and even downright annoying. Be careful not to associate with such sounds.

  • Your sound might get hijacked - Opportunists can hijack the sound you're known for and dilute your brand.

Protecting and maintaining your sonic brand requires intention and effort, which is discussed later in this article. But first, we need to bust a few myths regarding the subject.


Sonic Branding Myths

Here are some ideas that are widely accepted despite being untrue. Do not buy these myths, or you will end up designing a suboptimal sonic brand.

Sonic branding is the same as signature sound.

A signature track (or a jingle) can be a part of your Sonic brand, but it is not the same as a Sonic brand. A sonic brand is all-things-audio associated with your business. The composer Hans Zimmer uses church organs quite often in his scores. They are now a part of his sonic brand.

But any composer using a church organ cannot create the same soundscape as Hans Zimmer. That’s because Zimmer’s brand has other contents as well.

Hip Hop producer Metro Boomin’s audio tag is another example of the difference between Sonic branding and signature sound. Boomin’s tag often appears on rapper Future’s projects because of how often Boomin produces for him. As a result, it is a part of Future’s sonic brand despite being Boomin’s signature sound.

Future’s sonic brand consists of his own vocals, the type of beats he selects, and the producer tags of the handful of producers he regularly works with. Collectively, these components create a unique soundscape that instantly reminds listeners of the rapper.

Sonic Branding is Only for big companies

This is a very serious misconception among small agency marketers. Because small business owners are not aware of sonic branding, they do not request audio branding services. Therefore, marketers who serve small business owners assume that sonic branding isn’t useful for small businesses.

Sonic branding is quite valuable for every business. It's just that the bigger companies can afford to invest in sonic branding while smaller businesses are too busy focusing on direct sales and bottom-line marketing.

It can be argued that small businesses need sonic branding more than large corporations. After all, an audio brand equals recognition and recall, both of which have much higher value for smaller businesses.

You can choose to have a Sonic brand

Sonic brands are emergent. Sure, you can choose to consciously engineer your audio identity. But even if you don’t, every sound that’s associated with your business will find its way into your customers’ heads.

For over 20 years, Steve Jobs's voice was a part of Apple's Sonic brand. Apple did not choose to make it a part of the company brand, but the fact that Jobs was its keynote speaker year after year made it an intrinsic part of Apple's audio identity.

Whether you choose to consciously design your audio brand or let things play out without a plan, your customers will associate certain sounds with your brand. By becoming conscious of this phenomenon, you can turn it into an opportunity. You can double down on a sound and repeatedly pair it with your content to cultivate recognition.

You need to spend big on your Sonic brand

Many video marketers shy away from sonic branding because they overestimate its costs. If you hire audio engineers and high-end music production contractors to design your sound, it will cost you a pretty penny. But you already know that that's not the only way to build a Sonic brand.

Your sonic brand could be something as simple as your voice. Commentary Youtuber Drew Gooden has a minimalist sonic brand. He begins most of his videos with the words “Hey Guy.” So those words uttered in his voice are his sonic brand. He did not have to spend $1000 to cultivate and leverage that brand.

All things “audio” that can be associated with you are already a part of your audio brand. You just need to identify what’s unique to you and plaster it across all your content to create consistency and cohesion. This does not require a lot of money, though you can definitely spend a lot of money if you want to (and can afford to).

Sonic branding is rare

The final myth that keeps many marketers, creators, and entrepreneurs from building better sonic brands is that sonic branding isn't very common. You will be surprised to find out how rampant audio branding actually is.

Almost every app has a Sonic brand, as does every movie, TV show, and public presenter. Moreover, many products you use have signature sounds embedded in them. Sounds are all around us, as are brands trying to claim them.

If anything, you should have a sense of urgency when approaching your sonic brand. Every sound you do not claim for your brand is already being taken over by another brand. It is a competition, and those who snooze will definitely lose.


How To Engineer Sonic Branding Into Your Videos

Videos are among the greatest vehicles for sonic branding. Because repeated exposure leads to a stronger audio identity, you have to feature your unique sound in as many of your videos as possible. The tips in this section will help you engineer sonic branding in videos.

Start with the audience

The first step you must take as a marketer or a brand manager is to figure out your audience. The better you are at identifying your audience, the easier time you will have developing your sonic brand. Knowing your audience will help you select sounds that resonate with your existing crowd.

Only after you know your viewers can you ask them which sounds they associate with you. Even for split testing, you need to identify your target market. If your community consists of millennials, your music choices would be different from what they would be if your viewers were primarily Gen-Z.

Consider your content

Even within the same target market, content expectations can vary depending on the context. If you make comedy videos that appeal to baby boomers, your music choices will be different from what they would be were you making documentaries for the same group.

View your own content with a fresh perspective. You will realize that there are hundreds of opportunities for sonic branding in your existing videos. Maybe you have a catchphrase, or you rely heavily on a specific sound effect.

Look for the following in your content log:

  • Effects - Are there specific sound effects you use regularly?

  • Music choices - Where do you use music in your videos? Is it the same track?

  • Words and phrases - Do you have a set intro or a catchphrase you repeat often?

Split-test music and effects

Split-testing your music, effects, and phrases is a great way to understand the potency of every component of your sonic brand. You will realize that some phrases are repeated in the comments section of your videos. It is better to double down on those than on ones no one repeats.

Using multiple sounds in the same video is a great way to invisibly split test audio contents. By observing how your community reacts to your videos, you can easily spot certain bits that get disproportionate attention. For example, when people ask about the music you use or repeat your catchphrase in the comments. If that doesn't happen, you can always focus group.

Focus group (if required)

Focus grouping isn't really necessary, but if you're confused about how you're perceived sonically, you can always ask your audience. Create a form and post its link to your social media. People who volunteer to be on a live call with you can sign up.

Once you have a few people interested in joining your call, you can ask them about the sounds they can identify with your brand. Create a line-up with sounds you never use and ones you often have in your videos. The ones with the highest recognition are ripe for being used in your sonic brand.

Select a sound and double down

After you have focus grouped or studied your way to a signature sound, it is time to double down. Start using it in your videos and pair it with a visual that reflects your brand.


Developing A Signature Sound

A lot goes into developing a signature sound. This section will help you avoid the pitfalls of sonic branding and help you come up with an audio signature that you are proud of.

  1. Make it distinct - It must sound unlike anything else in your space.

  2. leverage content volume - use the track, effect, or voice tag enough to make it your signature

  3. Spread it across different media - Don't limit it to videos only. Use your signature sound in your audio ads, podcasts, etc.

  4. Tie it to a dopamine spike - Use the sound at a point in your video that moves people or makes them laugh.

  5. Use visual tie-ins - Sonic branding works best when paired with visual branding.


Maintaining Vs. Evolving Your Signature Sound

You have two options as a video marketer: to maintain and reinforce your signature sound or to evolve it. Initially, your highest priority should be to simply establish the sound. You can evolve it later.

Protecting your sound is much more important because unethical competitors might want to take advantage of your non-trademarked sound.

Trademarking your sound is one way of protecting it. Another is to use copyrighted words (like the McDonald's jingle) or copyright-protected music.


Get Inspired: Sonic Branding Video Examples

To understand how far Sonic Branding has spread already, look no further than the following examples.

  1. Netflix - The audio at the beginning of each piece of Netflix content is the platform’s audio signature.

  2. TikTok - The TikTok signature sound is paired perfectly with the ending of any TikTok you download.

  3. Coke - Coke ads often use the sound of a fizzy drink being opened alongside the audio of it being poured into a glass.

  4. McDonalds - The McDonald's jingle is iconic.

  5. Derren Brown - Derren Brown uses the same theme song for most of his specials and live shows.


Tools For Sonic Branding In Videos

In this section, you will find the top five tools/platforms you can use as a video marketer interested in sonic branding.

  1. ContentFries - After you've built a signature sound, you'll need ContentFries to multiply your content and reinforce the audio signature with high content volume.

  2. Audacity - Audacity is a free audio editing software you can use to isolate a sound bite that you plan to use in your sonic brand.

  3. Adobe Audition - This is a high-end audio editing program you can use to develop your sound.

  4. Apple Logic Pro - This is an Apple-specific program for audio editing and mixing.

  5. Fiverr Pro - Most video marketers who don't want to learn audio editing can simply hire a professional sound engineer via Fiverr Pro.


Sonic Branding Facts: Things You Did Not Know

Let's take a look at some sonic branding facts that will help you see the value of this discipline.

  1. It starts with one second - You can have a signature sound that's only one second long.

  2. You might have unintentionally built your sonic brand - Your sonic brand might already exist. Simply look at the sounds you often use in your videos.

  3. It is very effective - According to IPSOS, sonic branding is 8.5 times more effective than celeb endorsements.

  4. It is quite memorable - Research shows that ads with iconic music are 96% more likely to be remembered by consumers compared to ads with mismatched or no music.


Immutable Laws Of Sonic Branding

There are thousands of sonic brands that differ from each other. Still, they follow the same laws to succeed. Here are the immutable laws of sonic branding that you must follow.

  • If it isn't unique, it isn't a brand - Your sound cannot be an imitation of an existing Sonic brand.

  • Always align your audio with your content - The McDonald's jingle wouldn't work if McDonald's were a morgue.

  • One sound, one brand - Don't use the same sound for multiple brands.

  • Connect it with an emotion - For a sound to stick as a sonic brand, it must evoke an emotion.

  • Have consistent quality - Your videos must have great sound quality, or your sonic brand will not stick.


Final Thoughts

Sonic Branding is a powerful tool for marketers as it helps them enhance recall, build familiarity, and increase sales. This resource covered all the things you need to know about developing your signature sound.

  • So, don’t delay it. Get started right now.

  • Don’t force it. Let it arise naturally.

  • Don’t dilute it. Use one sound for one brand.

  • Don’t be inconsistent. Pump out a large volume of content featuring your signature sound. Use ContentFries to multiply your tracks.

  • Don’t make it complicated. Above all, keep it simple.