"Sounds take you places. They motivate, stimulate, and seduce even the most reluctant. The right mix of sound, music, and strategic noise is a vital part of the branding game." --Karen Post for Fastcompany.com
Since the early 1900's, sound has played a significant role in building brands.
From the very first jingle for Wheaties breakfast cereal, to today's branding phenomena in the voice of Ikea, or the Sega scream, brand sounds have crept into our consciousness, creating phenomenal marketing advantage for many of the world's most successful brands.
Many leading marketers and advertising pundits vouch for the power of brand sounds to generate brand impressions and share-of-mind that cannot be achieved through visual brand clues alone.
Consider the following cases. They offer inspiration for effectively employing sound to differentiate your brand. They centre on radio but they are adaptable to a growing range of media which demand great audio to truly connect with the consumer - TV, online, satellite, mobile and personal digital devices, podcasts, events, in-store, or simply a company's phone hold.
Each marketer featured here humanizes its brand with a unique tone-of-voice, style and personality that brings it to life, making it real and accessible. In every case, the identifiable brand voice has translated to exceptional brand growth and sales success.
Original jingle rescues Wheaties brand (1926)
By 1926, General Mills had all but given up on its new breakfast food. Two years after its launch, sales figures were so dismal the company was about to pull the plug. But something puzzled its executives: Why had sales suddenly spiked in certain markets but remained flat everywhere else?
Analysis soon revealed that sales lifts appeared in every region where a new singing commercial had been airing. A clever ad executive suggested that before giving up, General Mills should try exposing the entire nation to the singing Wheaties commercial.
On December 24, 1926, on radio airwaves across North America, the Wheaties Quartette was heard singing the very first nationally broadcast “jingle.” Wheaties became an overnight sensation and subsequently grew to become the Breakfast of Champions endorsed by sports stars from Lou Gehrig to Tiger Woods.
The 1926 musical execution appears rather stodgy today, but it fit the times, resonating strongly with consumers and proving the power of music to bring brands to life.
Audio IconListen to the original Wheaties’ jingle
Coke buys the world’s recognition (1971)
Since the 1920’s, radio and sound have formed a critically-important communication vehicle for Coca-Cola. In the 1960s, “Things Go Better with Coke” became a hit radio spot using successful groups who sang the jingle in their own musical styles.
Coke really came into its own in the 1970s, associating its brand with fun, friends and good times. On February 12, 1971, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”, was shipped to radio stations around America creating an advertising sensation.
Quickly, listeners were requesting the commercial like it was a hit record, and 100,000 letters deluged Coke asking where the commercial could be purchased; The New Seekers recorded Coke’s song – it became an instant hit that over 35 years later, consumers still remember and associate with the brand.
Before long, Coke was approving budget to create a visual concept to accompany its new brand voice. This ultimately became the Hilltop television spot in which young people from around the world gathered on a hilltop in Italy to sing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”. The advertising phenomenon reinforced the power of music as a universal language.
“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” has become a marketing standard to which more brands should aspire. With a brand voice rooted in appealing music, you really can’t lose.
Audio IconListen to the jingle that changed Coke's world
Sleeman sounds like success - 10 brands, 20% growth per year
Sleeman’s incredible success as a micro brewery stemmed from its unique product, but also from its fresh marketing approach in a category dominated by the deep pockets of Molson and Labatt.
Sleeman hit the market with a brand voice that was clearly different. It was natural, genuine, personal and accessible, and it quickly gained the confidence of beer drinkers.
John Sleeman voices Sleeman radio spots to this day. Although other micro breweries have taken his lead to create their own unique voice, none have replicated the down-home family feel that is Sleeman.
Audio IconHear Sleeman's unique sound
Read Sleeman's full case study
Goodyear Guy gets us laughing, and tire sales soaring
The voice of Goodyear has brilliantly captured a consumer following, entertaining us exclusively on radio since 2002.
The concept of launching a brand spokesperson from a relatively unknown personality is not uncommon; however Goodyear has executed flawlessly, enabling consumers to get to know Thom Sharpe, an LA comedic actor, more intensely with each passing year.
Perhaps we love him because of his human qualities, his faux pas, and his mindless pursuit of his goals irrespective of what others think.
Canadians have embraced the Goodyear Guy, and clearly acted on his love of Goodyear tires. With no shouting of sales, discounts, or inventory that must go, he has in his own way persuaded consumers to buy Goodyear, to the tune of 43% growth in 2006.
With a media strategy that employs ‘voice alone’ on radio, Goodyear has significantly strengthened its brand as a dominant force in the tire industry.
Audio IconListen to the Goodyear Guy at his finest
PDF IconRead Goodyear's full case study
Ikea's Swedish Guy: radio star, branding genius
Ikea has developed exceptional brand equity in Canada - its distinctive “voice” is an integral part of its brand strategy.
From a creative point of view, radio is an excellent choice to effectively showcase Ikea's star character who pokes fun at himself and his Swedish accent. Working with exceptional scripts, this character never fails to effectively relay tactical retail messages, while consistently building Ikea’s brand attributes and brand recognition.
The Ikea voice has been recognized as a key contributor to Ikea’s record awareness and growth.
Audio IconHear a classic Ikea spot featuring Swedish Guy
PDF Icon Read Ikea's full case study
More on brand voice
PDF Icon Read Creative Ear, Episode 8: Logo Branding
Audio IconHow many sound logos can you recognize in this montage?