Sounds familiar? The power of brand sonification

Back in 2013, our CEO Dr Chris Mitchell understood the value of being able to recognise sounds and associate them with their respective brands and filed our brand sonification patent.

A good 360 degree brand experience embodies a whole number of qualities that appeal to our physical senses and the sounds they make are a key component. Kellogg’s™ ® Rice Krispies built a multi-million pound campaign on their distinctive snap, crackle & pop sound.

You can do this as long as you have the technology to recognise sounds and that’s our mission. Giving consumer technology the sense of hearing with ai3™, our sound recognition software.


When did your ears last prick up when you heard a familiar sound?

For me, or rather my two dogs, an 11 year old French Basset and 1 year old Lurcher, it was last night, when they heard the characteristic sound of a packet of Pedigree® Dentastix dog chews being opened.

I ran an ad hoc test all last week. They didn’t react to a packet of rice being opened, a bag of crisps or oven chips, nor had they been programmed to be in the kitchen at a particular time of day (I varied dog treat time during my experiment). No. They immediately reacted to the very distinctive crinkle of the plastic foil stay fresh packet of their Pedigree® Dentastix, which resulted in an eager chaotic bundle of dogs racing into the kitchen.

My 10 year old son is the same following the distinctive sequence, “slam, pop-pop, ping” of microwave popcorn. Fewer legs, but just as eager.

Recognisable brand sounds are not restricted to the opening of packets, boxes, cans or bottles. Most white goods often have distinctive chirps, chimes, peeps and pings when starting and finishing cycles. Boot up sounds for set top boxes, games consoles, PC’s, Apple computers, tablets and mobile phones each unique and carefully designed to reflect their respective brand values. The distinct sound of notifications can even advise the listener on what apps people have running on their phones. WhatsApp, Pokemon Go and yes even Fortnite are all popular at my house.

Not forgetting hearing jingles broadcast over TV or radio. Brand managers and ad companies need no longer worry about the reach and value impact of their ads.

‘I’m lovin’ it’.


The value of brand sonification

It’s not at all hard to imagine the value of analysing and being able to identify consumers’ real time use of products – through the sound of them being used –  for the power houses in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries such as Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, PepsiCo and Diageo. Nor the value of identifying real time usage patterns for the consumer electronics equipment manufacturers too.

Whilst manufacturers and brands obviously know how many they sell, after it leaves the retailers’ shelves it goes home, where they have lost track of it. Our smart home survey of UK and US consumers shows that the kitchen, living room and bedroom are the top three rooms in which smart speakers are located and with the kitchen and bathroom being locations for significant consumption of FMCG of all shapes and sizes, knowing when, where and what is being used is such a powerful metric they ought be chomping at the bit to understand how to their product is being consumed.

The brand sonification patent goes on to explore how brands could even alter their sounds for specific brand campaigns. Anyone remember the bygone era of off-pack SMS promotions as evidence that adapting packaging has been done to tremendous success in the past? Brand managers wrestled with the concept of adding an overlay on their packages, (Text ‘Crisp’ to 707070), “corrupting their brand visual identity”, “infringing on their logo devices” until that is they saw the most incredible interaction and response rates and for a while it was hard to find a product without an SMS shortcode on the packaging. All in an attempt to own the customer. Now I have your mobile number, and your permission, I can contact you 1:1.

Brands have wanted to “own” their consumers, at the point of consumption for years. It’s all well and good for the consumer brand houses to be able to hear. But what’s in it for consumers?


Consumer benefits

Consumers reasonably expect an equitable value exchange and are quite rightly going to be concerned about giving permission for third parties to analyse sounds, but as soon as they enjoy something in return we should be confident they’ll adopt the concept. Any interaction must be managed responsibly.

It might be no more sophisticated than offering pricing discounts on replenishing items based on their rate of use, rewards for use during a particular campaign, recommendations for associated products delighting customers with new product discovery, advice on how best to enjoy or take the fullest advantage of the item you are using.

It could be as sophisticated as automatically ordering and delivering to restock consumables before a customer even knows they’re running out. I’d welcome a bag of coffee beans waiting on my doorstep before I get in to the kitchen to find the hopper is empty. And there’ll be far more creative value exchanges imagined by creative media types given the medium with which brands could now communicate with their customers.

What a wonderful interaction you could establish with consumers with smart assistants on smart speakers. Let’s encourage the agencies to conceive some very inventive user experiences. So now you know and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s impossible to ignore the power of brand sonification.



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About Audio Analytic

Audio Analytic is the pioneer of AI sound recognition software. The company is on a mission to map the world of sounds, offering our sense of hearing to consumer technology. By transferring our sense of hearing to consumer products and digital personal assistants we give them the ability to react to the world around us, helping satisfy our entertainment, safety, security, wellbeing and communication needs.

Audio Analytic’s ai3™ sound recognition software enables device manufacturers and chip companies to equip products with Artificial Audio Intelligence, recognizing and automatically responding to our growing list of sound profiles.

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