I was watching a soccer game tonight (Brazil vs. Uruguay, a World Cup Qualifying match that Brazil won 4 nil) and about 20 minutes into the first half I suddenly heard this little chiming logo come from my TV. I immediately knew it was the little T Mobile jingle/chime, and I frantically searched around the screen until I found their logo hanging under the score caption.
For the uninitiated soccer fans out there (that is, anyone without kids under 14), soccer games don’t have commercial breaks during the game, so advertisers have to find subtle (but sometimes insidious) ways to get their message across. I’ve written about logos on soccer jerseys. Then there’s the stadium ads running along the boundary of the field of play. Then there’s stadium naming rights. The list goes on and on … and now apparently includes little jingles in the middle of the game.
Such “aural signatures” as I will call them aren’t new. There’s the Doing-Doing-Doing xylophone chime of NBC that’s been around for decades. There’s the Ta-dah-dah Ta-dah-dah brass blast of ESPN’s Sportcenter theme. There’s even the non-sound, like EF Hutton’s silence. And because many people (yours truly included) have an aural memory, what is heard about your brand is sometimes the thing that sticks with people the most.
When most people think of branding, they think of visuals and text. But sound by itself is often overlooked (although many retailers now pay close attention to creating a branded sound … if you’ve been in a Starbucks in the last, say, 5 years, you’ll know what I’m talking about). So think about all the places where people might be listening and how you can shape your brand with sound at those intersections. In your lobby. On your on-hold message. At the beginning or in the background of presentations (as long as it’s not distracting). Even subtle use of an aural signature on your Web site might work well, but for god’s sake don’t play music unless you’re a music label, because whatever your choice for music, at least some of your prospects won’t like it and will probably leave because of it (I, for one). Even a chiming holiday card could be a nice touch.
But whatever the aural signature, use it consistently, make it memborable without distracting and make it consistent with your attributes.