Archive for the ‘Sonic Branding’ Category



April 7, 2008

After much work, I have come to the conclusion that this is not a feasible topic of research (particularly at the stage I am at).

As a result, I have halted all research here; I hope one day I will continue it.
Instead I have chosen another topic that looks into the guitar amplifier market. My new blog can be found at

Thanks for visiting! 


Branding not corporate identity

February 29, 2008

The contemporary Apple seems to have two types of music in their adverts…

For macbooks and the iphone, the music tends to be very mellow and playful; reflecting a “without a care in the world” atmosphere. The message here is simplicity.
For example,

When dealing with the iPod world, the music tends to be slightly more upbeat and energetic. The message here is harder to distinguish but I would say Apple wants to be THE music player and is associating with the rhythmic nature of music (and also as many genres as possible).
Again an example…

This is the general rule of Apple.
Simplicity = Computers (and phones), energy = music.
There are exception like… ipod nano advert…

The song here for the ipod nano advert seems more appropriate for a macbook… yet it works as it is!
Perhaps the ipod nano is trying to communicate a message of simplicity as well, but the “rule” I identified has been broken.
This then is the power of branding, and not corporate identity.

Corporate identity is rational, organised, and consistent. – A logo in the same place of every product. Branding is not.
Branding is about emotion and is allowed to break the rules.
Corporate identity identifies; Branding signifies.


Music with a cause

February 28, 2008


Music in politics reflects what happens when music is used with brands which consumers believe in.

One of my favourite examples is New Labour’s 1997 campaign song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by D:Ream. Although many would ridicule the choice of song today, you have to remember it was perfect in 1997.
The message was clear: the Conservatives had messed up the country so badly that it would be lunacy to elect them again; a change for a brighter future is sorely desired, and who better to provide this than Mr Blair & company. However that message does not resonate today.
Campaign songs are a short term strategy, they are there to make an impact and get the message to the public as quickly as possible. Not only do they need to embody the identity and values of the brand, but they also need to be simple, clear, familiar, and powerful. Due to all these reasons, licensed music has a significant advantage of original music.

Getting the song right is also another interesting topic and the current US presidential elections reflect this.
Hillary Clinton has been using the power of the people and new media to choose hers… (Celine Dion’s ‘You And I’ won the vote)

Barack Obama used Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours’. 
However after losing the primary elections to Hillary, a more humble choice was selected –  Bill Whithers’ ‘Lovely Day’.
…and funnily enough, the Republican candidates Mike Huckabee (Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling) and John McCain (John Mellencamp’s ‘Our Country’) were asked by the musicians of their respective songs to stop using them as their campaign songs.

The right song can not only reflect the brand here, but also create a reinforced sense of solidarity by having an anthem for the ideological battle. 
The use of music in politics is not subtle and perhaps it doesn’t need to be. Campaign songs are used for 6 months and then they’re gone. Not only is this a short term strategy, but the combination between music and brand is a short term association.
However I wonder if the current model of music in politics is one which should stay as it is (due to its purposes), or whether it could be improved…

Note: I came across this Presidential Campaign Songs: 1789 – 1996. I find it bizzare that you can actually buy this… although I am very intrigued by it, it seems original music was used in the early years, but has now shifted to licensed music. Obviously there is a story to tell here, and it suggests that the model of music in politics has evolved (for the better?).


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. 
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”… 


The package deal

February 20, 2008

I saw this new Jaguar ad recently and I loved it – great use of music.
It caught my attention, and I think it represented the brand very well (energetic, youthful, sexy, sophisticated and swarve – very desirable!).
The problem is the song is “Hush” covered by Kula Shaker (originally by Deep Purple)…I love the Deep Purple version but have always hated the Kula Shaker rendition. The only explanation I can give as to why I like the advert then is the combination of the visuals.
I know that many adverts were bad because of the use of music (In my opinion, all the coffee/health food adverts that have used a James Brown song), but this Jaguar advert is proof that you need both elements to succeed.


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

February 20, 2008


…makes makes me think of Honda