The “Itch”

February 23, 2008

I hope that by simply seeing the above picture, I’ve gotten one of the most catchy songs in the world to stay in your head for the next few days.
I found this article which is a few years old but it is still interesting for my purposes. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3221499.stm 
The article addresses why we get melodies stuck in our heads. Apparently music can cause an “itch”, which can only be scratched by remembering them.
We’re told that this is a good thing for marketing, i.e. jingles.
Well…. maybe for jingles but not for branding.
To me most jingles are not used for branding purposes precisely because of the “itch”. Today, most jingles you hear will be for direct response adverts (designed to motivate you the consumer to respond to it whether it is buying the product, or phoning to inquire about the service. Think of say ‘Sheila’s Wheels’, not every woman wants car insurance, but those who do will probably remember and look into ‘Sheila’s Wheels’ first because they remember them from the adverts). 
A jingles main purpose is to be mnemonic.
For branding purposes the jingle could mean suicide; again precisely because of the “itch”. As the article recognises, this “itch” is annoying! Presumably the message brands want to send consumers is not one of annoyance (unless we’re talking about the ‘Crazy Frog’).
So for branding purposes we’ve seen the creation of the sonic logo – a short burst of sound designed to encapsulate the emotions of the brand by acting as a vessel for associations. 
The question that remains to me is whether a sonic logo has enough musical quality (by which I mean length in time, and hook) to cause the “itch”… 


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