Full disclosure here:  I’m making a case for a more precise and mindful use of sound in conveying your brand identity.  I’m convinced that, today, your audio identity must be crafted and managed with the same care and discipline as your graphic identity.  Here’s why:

1. Shorter, shallower attention spans.

Attention spans have declined from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in the last dozen years and people are in a state of “continuous partial attention” (Linda Stone).  You need every tool in your kit to reach through the distractions.

Sound is fast and memorable.  It’s processed bio-mechanically, straight from eardrums to the auditory cortex sitting right next to them in the brain.  It works to convey meaning, enhance emotions and create memory.

When pairing a visual logo with a sound logo, it doesn’t just make the logo twice as recognizable or memorable – they multiply each other.

If your brand has a recognizable audio identity, people will pick it up even if their eyes are closed, averted or darting all over a screen.

2.   All new media in the past two decades is audio-enabled.

Today people are conditioned to take in sight and sound together. The media experience they’re accustomed to is accompanied by audio.

But brands are far behind this trend.  They spend fortunes on their visual identities and leave their audio identities to the various agencies and suppliers who create their videos, telephone hold music, commercials and events.

Usually this results in a hodgepodge.  Just as you have a visual identity you should have a distinctive, created-for-you audio identity.  And it needs to reflect your values, personality and aspirations.

I’m sure your brand has a visual style guide.  Does it have an audio one?

3. Proliferation of devices leads to brand confusion

In order to be open to a relationship, you customer needs to know who you are and how you’ll react.  Today there are more ways to state what you’re about, more ways you customers can recognize you.

One way to be recognizable is to make sure your sound territory is consistent (but not mindlessly repetitive) across all your places of customer interaction.  Does your on-hold music define your brand?  Does your sampling booth?  Does your app?

What if you gave rights-free brand-tailored music loops for you customer-created videos?

4. Brands must deliver an experience

The most intensely memorable experiences stimulate sight, sound, smell, kinesthesia, touch. Especially brands that have to fight to get people out of their increasingly entertaining homes. Retailers, hospitality and travel providers need to use every tool to give people a reason to leave their homes.

When someone crosses your threshold do they experience a transition from the outside world to your special world?  Are they greeted with a distinctive carpet of sound that subtly conveys where they are (and who you are)?  I’ve walked into ATM foyers and the only transition in the harsh “beep, beep beep” of ATM machines.  Why not a meaningful and memorable sound?

 5.  Overwhelming visual environments

We are living in a world that is overwhelmingly visual.  Today’s consumers experience visual bombardment at every turn, consequently, much of it gets tuned out.

Scent and music provide new and intensely memorable ways to connect.  And you can tap into those senses even when the customer is staring at something else.  Because you can close your eyes but you can’t close your ears.


As attention spans continue to shrink and consumers tune out the excess visual stimulation delivered through a multitude of media channels, the competitive advantage will go to those who use audio branding not only capture a consumer’s attention, but also underscore, position and emphasize the role of the brand in the customer’s life.