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Marketing Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

Audio branding: is your brand recall as good as it should be?

By Margo Waldrop | Content Writer

April 27, 2023 | 8 min read

Audio branding can be a unique, memorable identifier for your brand. Learn why it’s important and how you can create your own audio identity to increase brand recall.

Woman listening to earphones

How is your brand recall? / Sound On/Pexels

Everyone who has a smart TV and a sofa recognizes the Netflix logo – red, black and white. What’s even more recognizable is the sound that the app makes when it uploads – the iconic, reverberation of Ta Dummmmm. It’s enough to bring both excitement and dread into a viewer’s heart. Excitement about watching great content and dread knowing you’ll be rooted to your sofa for hours on end.

We sofa dwellers immediately connect with what the sound means, who it belongs to, what to expect and, more importantly, how to feel. Netflix did its job and it did it exceptionally well. It’s an important lesson learned – how the strategic use of sound equates to better brand recall.

A recent 2020 report by Spotify shows that audio ads caused a 24% higher brand recall than visual ads – not too shabby when you understand that every ‘consumer recall’ of a brand is the potential for higher revenue. Further research states that humans have the ability to encrypt and preserve patterns in random auditory noise. This is big news for companies that have to tread the traditional route of visual connections only. Sound sells in a big, big way.

Why? Because sound relates more to our memory than visual elements.

Why is audio branding important?

Let’s face facts, companies want to sell. Whether it’s to another business or a consumer out on the street, their intent is to make money. To do that, however, they need to make connections. Deep, meaningful connections like the ones we have with our TV remote, AirPods or even our significant other. As we all know, connections can be made anywhere, even away from the sofa. If you are to immerse listeners in the sounds of your brand, you have to find them – the sounds and the customers. Luckily, that isn’t as hard as it appears.

The surge of available audio devices gives brands ample opportunity to reach out to their target base. Smart speakers, cars, tablets, watches, earphones and about a million other devices all increase a person’s exposure to audio touchpoints (not to mention podcasts, radio, television and social media). There are several reasons to take advantage of these moments to increase brand recall:

  • Brand differentiation: Distinguishes your brand from the rest of the pack

  • Emotional connection: Sound establishes an emotional connection

  • Brand perception: Increase consumers’ perception and evaluation of your brand

  • Brand recognition: Audio markers can create instant brand recognition

  • Trust: The more someone hears your audio touchpoints, the more trust is built

These five reasons are the principal drivers of brand recall. Audio helps with that. It gives a voice to your brand that can be shared across different channels. Audio content is also more convenient for consumers to engage with. Podcasts, smart speakers, digital home assistants, as well as wearable technology all present opportunities for brands to establish themselves in an auditory manner.

Audio branding examples

Have you ever walked through a shopping mall only to be greeted by different music in each store? Rock music in one store, classical in another? At one point your brain begins to ‘tune out’ the ambient noise because there is no pattern that makes sense for auditory interpretation. Building a sound for your brand can’t be scattered, it should be cohesive and tell the story of your brand in a way that is recognizable and memorable.

This doesn’t mean you should make all your audio identical, far from it. You want different sounds for different applications, but a common theme should run throughout. A theme that consumers will distinctly recognize as belonging to your brand. Whether you create a jazz version of your theme or a country version, if it is recognizable as your company’s sound then it will be remembered.

Here are some examples where you can use audio:

  • Radio ads

  • Podcast ads

  • Social media

  • Email audio

  • Video introduction

  • Jingle

  • Audio logo

  • Website UI

  • Chatbots

It also doesn’t have to be music. Any tones or sounds that accompany your product or services can all be part of your sound strategy.

How do you increase brand recall?

Brands can learn a great deal from psychoacoustics – the science of sound perception and audiology. Scientists study our physiological and psychological responses to an array of sounds, including speech and music. Believe it or not, sound can affect how our brain conceptualizes situations, as well as tagging memories and related emotions. If you can tap into the emotional memories of a consumer with a well-thought-out audio strategy, then your brand awareness and recall will jump far ahead of the pack.


Echoic memory is the quick-change adapter in our brain, essentially storing information from sounds we hear. It’s a part of sensory memory and is important for recall. It works by transmitting sounds to the brain, where it is recorded and either thrown into our short-term memory or deleted. It could eventually move into our long-term memory depending on how often it is replayed in our minds.

Repetition and consistency of themed audio are key here. The more a consumer hears your brand’s sound, the better chance it will be stored in their long-term memory. This aids in quicker recall and, if associated with positive emotions, will elicit an emotional response. Take stock of opportunities for your company to create sound touchpoints. Even something as small as hold music or sounds while a user meanders through your website can contribute to your audio branding.


Our memories have a tight connection with our emotions and sound plays a large role in that. The part of our brain that stores our emotional memories is also responsible for processing our senses.

Take McDonald’s, the hamburger giant that has been around for ages. A recent study showed that 80% of respondents reported the McDonald’s jingle either made them happy or hungry. While the golden arches may have longevity on its side, it has always managed to stay top of mind for consumers through some form of audio. Happy or hungry, both emotions bring in customers, which is why McDonald’s is still around almost 70 years later.

If the sounds of your brand don’t produce ‘the feels’ in some way, then it is just the ambient music from the mall – in one ear and out the other. You should be able to encapsulate your brand in a few words, translate that into sound, play around and find the musical theme that resonates with your customers and elicits the emotions you need for them to feel. It will better connect them to your brand and they will have easier recall when these emotions are stirred.

Even though thousands of brands are competing for attention, taking audio residence in your target customers’ emotions and memories is the best way to come out on top. Elevating your brand recall will take strategy and self-reflection, but it is well worth the effort. Maybe you will even be around 70 years later making your customers happy (and possibly hungry, who knows).

To learn more about Audio Branding, sign up for The Drum Plus.

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