How does sonic branding work?

Decoding the Influence of Music in Brand Perception

What is sonic branding?

Sonic branding is music or sound that carries the emotional attributes – the ‘feeling’ of a brand via your ears, to the brain of the listener, or consumer. As a result, they feel good and associate that feeling with the brand.  It’s easily memorable.  We know what it means.

What actually happens cognitively? 
  1.  The listener clearly understands the brand’s feeling and emotions communicated..  
  2.  It triggers recall –  we remember it.
  3.  We correctly attribute what we’re hearing.  We know what it means, where it comes from and what it’s asking of us.
  4. This emotionally locates and primes our audience (or consumers, or listeners) in a short time.  Sometimes in a very short time!
What outcomes should I expect?

Expertly conceived, written and produced, distinctive sonic branding will achieve these outcomes:
Increased brand attribution and foster deeper emotional connections with consumers, ultimately resulting in increased sales.

Audio Branding and Sonic Branding – What’s the difference?

Well, not much.  Radio broadcasters tend to refer to audio imaging.  A term we love.
In TV entertainment we call it theme tunes.
Brands and advertisers tend to refer to it as audio branding or sonic branding or sonic identity  Our preference is brand sound.  It covers most uses.They all do exactly the same thing:

How long should sonic branding be?

There are no rules. The sonic branding with the most impressive recall stats is Disney’s When you wish upon a star’.  It’s 45 seconds!  However we only need to hear a tiny fraction of that melody, 2 or 3 notes, and we know exactly what it means.

The McDonalds whistle is 3 secs. is similar.  Theme tunes tend to be 20 secs.  

Successful sonic branding has to work hard.  You should only need to hear it twice to understand, remember and correctly attribute what you’ve heard.  It should not rely on repetition.  The human brain can remember anything if repeated enough.  That’s expensive.  

If your sonic branding is smartly thought through and produced, it’ll ooze integrity and authenticity.  And of course live rent free, in your consumers heads!

We’re 10 years old!

We launched A-MNEMONIC Music at Cannes Lions exactly 10 years ago.  Founder and MD Toby Jarvis looks back at the summer of 2013.
“I had left my previous job the day before and was due in Cannes the next day. With no phone or business cards.  Just passion and enthusiasm. I knew what A-MNEMONIC could become. However, less certain how to achieve it.
The only place I knew that could design and print business cards overnight was ProntaPrint, just off Trafalgar Square. I pitched up at around 10 pm and thought of a company name in about 3 seconds.  They ran off a batch of purple cards so I could take them to Cannes the next day.
I had built a recording studio 6 months before, at a huge expense, and only needed a final injection of cash to get it all up and running properly. I didn’t know how to start a business. I had no idea if we’d win any clients. It seemed like the most terrifying gamble you could take.
Within a few days from our return from Cannes, we had a company registration number, a VAT number, a lawyer, an accountant, – and a tiny office, at the very top of the Windmill Theatre in Archer St. Our little space had previously been used as the ‘exotic dancer’s’ dressing room. The decor hadn’t been touched since Paul Raymond’s days in the 60s. Very seedy.
That week, we had our first job. ITV were updating their ‘This Morning’ show and we were called in to ‘refresh and update’ the theme music.
Amazing how time has whizzed by so quickly.
In the 10 years since, we’ve worked with many smart and talented clients, brands, agencies, marketeers, producers, directors, animators, musicians, voices, singers and composers. From all over the world. We’ve had our share of challenges and setbacks too. No train wrecks. Yet. In addition to the 2,432 music tracks we’ve produced, our team have chalked up 5 marriages, and 6 babies.
We have the same enthusiasm and passion now. The biggest buzz for us is collaborating with amazing people – experts in their craft and producing great work. Technology continues to evolve around us. It has always been an integral and exciting part of our journey, and will undoubtedly continue to shape our future.
Unfortunately, we’re not in Cannes this year, too much going on here. Happy birthday to us!”

The A-MNEMONIC sonic branding report 2023.

We’ve now released our first-ever Sonic Branding Report.
An academic analysis of the latest thinking, ideas, stats and arguments.
This is only available for advertisers, brands, and broadcasters.

We break dense, often-inaccessible scholarship down into manageable chunks and discuss them informally. Second, we build on existing scholarship alongside recent data in order to make our own suggestions about where sonic branding may be heading next…

This report is aimed at anyone working for brands, their advertisers, marketers and strategists alike. Particularly those who find talking about, or quantifying their use of music perplexing. It doesn’t need to be that way!

Register your interest here

Can You Generate a Completely AI Produced Song?

A-MNEMONIC’s Toby Jarvis explores whether artificial intelligence can truly create music that emotes, and has personality and believability.

Having watched the rise of artificial intelligence – both during the creative process and, with the listener or consumer, things are getting interesting.

Is it possible to generate an utterly AI-produced song? Not only the lyrics but the chord structure, the melody, all the band member’s instruments – and the lead singer?

Alan Turing experimented with computer-generated melodies in 1951, David Bowie with randomised lyric writing and many, many others since have used AI to augment their creative/ recording process.

There are a plethora of artificial intelligence, prose, lyric and songwriting tools out there. Some are unnervingly clever. There are chord progression, and melodic generators too. They suggest any number of chord sequences and musicologically solid routes forward.

I’ve been using a ‘virtual drummer’ for ages. It obediently plays along while you’re working out ideas, it’ll follow your tempo perfectly, and even decide on where to correctly play any fills.

There are hundreds of programmes like Riffer, which will endlessly generate melodies or arpeggios or rhythms. Given you dictate the key/tempo and sound, these many programs are still very much under the creative control of the composer.

The only AI programme we found to generate anything near 100% original was ‘Melobytes AI Song’. However, scoring high with creative originality it scored very low in how it sounded. Terrible!

For singing voice generation, we sometimes use Emvoiceapp. You input the melody, either by picking it out with one finger on a keyboard or inputting the notes on a grid. You then type in your lyric text, then choose one of four pre-set voices. Press enter and… Bingo! Well, sort of. One of the voice options sounded like a really pissed-off Cher. One of the male voices sounded quite creepy. No character, spark or believability. We sometimes use it to work out backing vocal harmonies, in advance of the singer doing it for real.

All these creative aids have become standard use in music creation. However, all require significant human input and judgement. None of these everyday tools can create anything like original music. Yet. It’s still down to the writer.

If a particular song has been successful, machine learning can be used to scan existing models and create new versions. Lately, AI-penned (or modelled) songs have come into their own. Indeed there is a top 10! In most cases, the lyrics are written using predictive text. Artist, “Botnik” used predictive text 50% trained in Morrissey lyrics, and 50% in Amazon customer reviews!

However, aside from the lyrics, these ‘tribute’ songs are based on an existing artist’s lyric style and sound. They’re all sung by humans with human people playing. Not truly AI-generated.

So, is it possible to generate a completely AI-created song? Just input your desired mood, and the emotions you want to hear and feel.

You say to Alexa: “Make me a track in the style of the Beatles, Swedish House Mafia, Beethoven with a 10% of dubstep, oh and it’s rainy and a robot took my job today. Please create a song that fits that criteria for me.”

Some production music libraries are heading this way – Soundraw, Jukebox and Amper are a few. However, they seem to rely on vast amounts of pre-recorded (and pre-composed) audio.

Because AI has to be pre-programmed with options to create specific musical pieces, it often produces music that is predictable. Desperately bland and characterless. Because it is essentially governed by an algorithm. It doesn’t feel believable.

An audience will listen or engage with music if it emotes, and has personality and believability. As far as I can see, pure AI music creation can’t do this yet. Not by a long way.

Toby Jarvis

A-MNEMONIC Music’s Toby Jarvis discusses some helpful tips to formulate the perfect music brief

A senior creative confided in me the other day – he didn’t like briefing music, didn’t feel he could talk about music and wished he could ‘brief music better’.

I was somewhat taken aback. Over the three or four projects we had previously worked on together I had never detected any lack of confidence with music briefing.

He expanded: “Oh I really hate dealing with music. I don’t have the language or the experience or the skills to talk about music. I’m intimidated and at sea with the whole prospect of thinking about music, I don’t have the vocabulary and quite happy to pass it on to someone else to deal with!”

It doesn’t have to be like this – briefing music can be good fun and an exciting part of the process. A little bit of forethought with the music can be a fantastic opportunity to be really creative and brave, creating an amazing piece of music that people will remember and become part of the DNA of your ad/film/TV show/experience.