If this column had a sound, what would it sound like? And you: what's your theme tune? I've been thinking about this because a friend of mine, a German music producer called Uli Reese (offices in Frankfurt and Nashville) has been conducting some research into aural branding. His argument is that while brands put a great deal of thought into their visual identity – graphics, typefaces and so on – they tend to neglect their sound. Brands that know their stuff know what they sound like, he says, citing Apple, McDonald's Coca-Cola, Nokia and of course Intel as examples.
According to Uli, aural branding is about more than a jingle. The door of a Porsche makes a reassuring sound when it closes – that's no accident. Harley Davidson once tried to trademark the distinctive thud of its motorcycles' V-Twin engines. But aural branding can also mean choosing the type of music people hear when they call your company and are put on hold. A brand that has a sonic identity may not use the same music for all its ads, but it would certainly use the same kind of music, creating a point of repair for consumers.
Uli's final point is a convincing one: when you work in advertising, you work in the recall business. And what can you recall more easily than a song? In fact, as Oscar Hammerstein II wrote, The Song is You. When you play me your favourite tune, you're telling me who you are.
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