Looking at the Deep Emotional Connections Behind “Sonic Brands”

Earlier this summer, Katz Marketing Solutions published a fascinating “sonic brand study” that examined the emotional responses that people have when they hear iconic brand messaging.

Sure, we all hum along when a familiar jingle comes on the radio, but many of us aren’t really aware of the emotional responses that are instantly triggered by these sounds. Audio logos are familiar not just because of their ubiquity, but also because of their artful catchiness. Once a brand’s sound gets in consumer’s brains, they don’t get out.

Here are some feeling states that people reported experiencing when presented with just three iconic audio clips.

1. Security, Assurance, Confidence, Protection. Are You In Good Hands?

2. Laughter, Relaxation, Thirst, Friendship. Bud Light – Mr. Really Really Really Bad Dancer-

3. Yummy, Filling, Funny, Fast. Little Cesars

This “sonic brand study” was fascinating for many reasons. While previous reports looked at overall brand identification, this research went far beyond simple recognition to survey the emotional impact of brands like NBC, Six Flags and T-Mobile.

Two hundred and fifty respondents listened to short aural snippets and were asked four questions:

  • Question #1: Do you recall hearing this sound before?
  • Question #2: Do you know the company or brand that uses this sound in its advertising?
  • Question #3: What messaging comes to mind after hearing this sound? What is the company attempting to communicate to you about its product?
  • Question #4: What pops in your head when you hear this sound? How does it make you feel?

It’s absolutely fascinating to read people describe their emotions and memories when presented with brands like ESPN, Old Spice and Taco Bell. The study is peppered with precisely the sort of feelings that brand marketers want to evoke. You’ll see words like inspiring, powerful, hilarious, comfort, warmth, value and happiness. I also thought it was incredible how often these folks perfectly described my own (unspoken) feelings when I heard the clips.

One thing is more clear than ever. Audio, even just a few seconds of it, impacts us cognitively, behaviorally and even physiologically. This is why radio works. It always has and always will.

Be sure to check out at the entire Sonic Brand Study here.