Audio logos are powerful, on radio and beyond

For smart businesses, in a world of ever-increasing audio channel selection, having a strong “audio logo” for branding purposes is more important than ever.

Whether it’s the three distinctive chimes long used by NBC (the GEC musical notes), the short whistled melody of McDonald’s, or the choral tag “Liberty, Liberty, Liberty…Liberty” employed by the music company. Liberty Mutual insurance, the most effective audio logos stay with consumers. ‘ the spirits.

Listeners need only hear these short bursts of audio to remember which brands the logos refer to.

Over the past five years, audio intelligence firm Veritonic has ranked the most effective audio logos (as determined by AI-assisted measurement tools).

In 2021, Farmers Insurance had the highest ranked audio logo in the US, while McDonald’s was top in the UK.

Make it stick

But the “2021 Audio Logo Index” – available for free download at www.audiologoindex.com — doesn’t just offer rankings by industry: it also provides actionable advice on creating “sticky” audio logos — memorable, emotionally resonant, properly branded.

Scott Klass

“The value of saying your name has never been more evident,” the report states. It’s equally important to create audio logos that reflect the diversity of the target audience, so consumers feel recognized and respected by the brands they listen to.

(A nice feature in the downloadable PDF of this report: it includes links to quoted audio logos, so readers can hear what Veritonic is writing.)

Also note: sound and words can be extremely effective in creating sticky audio logos.

“In particular, companies that combine melody and brand name repetitions score consistently higher in our audio logo rankings,” said Scott Klass, senior vice president of marketing for Veritonic.

“That’s why Liberty Mutual’s audio logo does so well: they sing the brand name four times. Liberty is the poster child for audio logos that not only stick in your head, but help people know exactly what brand they’re hearing.

Why they work

Dave Bethell is co-owner of TM Studios in Dallas, a 50-year-old company known for its work in radio jingles.

Dave Bethell of TM Studios

“We’re singing our first audio logo in the form of the alphabet song,” Bethell told Radio World. “There’s a reason we learn music when we’re kids. Combining words with musical imprints in an area of ​​the brain different from that used for spoken word memory. Our ability to remember musical melodies and the words or messages associated with them has been scientifically proven to be more effective than words alone, which is why memorable audio logos stick with us.

When it comes to audio logos for radio, the most memorable ones reflect the stations they promote.

“Audio logos that evoke the brand in a visceral way can be particularly effective,” said Fred Jacobs, founder of Jacobs Media, which creates audio logos for its clients.

“San Francisco’s KOIT(FM) was famous for its audio logo, which used a cable car sound effect. This sound evoked the vibe of San Francisco very well, and it made you think of KOIT every time you heard a cable car go by.

Meanwhile, WRIF (FM) DJ Arthur Penhallow came up with the Detroit station’s catchphrase “Baby!” which has become an audio logo in its own right. “Baby!” was so tied to WRIF that “it eventually made its way into bumper stickers and merchandising,” Jacobs said. “Whenever people thought of the WRIF, they would yell, ‘Baby!’ mimicking Art’s voice and exuberance.

make logos

Jacobs is a big proponent of audio logos for radio stations. But it takes more than a choir singing the station’s call sign to make an audio logo memorable.

Detroit DJ Arthur Penhallow coined the catchphrase “Baby!” at the WRIF.

In fact, so many stations use this form of audio branding that it can be counterproductive to create audio logos in this manner.

So what does it take to create an effective radio audio logo?

“The key to winning on radio — and for a brand — is capturing the consumer’s attention; better yet, get inside his head,” he replied.

“To achieve this, the sound must be memorable and evocative. It also helps to have a regional or local hook and offer something relevant to the target audience.

The success of the KOIT and WRIF audio logos was rooted in these principles. Today, a similar approach can be used by bringing together a short instrumental sting that aligns with the station’s music format, locally significant sound effects like KOIT’s cable car, and the hard-hitting call sign and catchphrase of the station – ideally something witty that appealed to listeners. like “Baby! by WRIF. rather than a vague marketing tag like “Always with a better song!”

To determine which audio logos actually capture consumers’ attention, Scott Klass recommends leveraging targeted consumer response data in the station’s listening area to see which perform best.

“Veritonic is a data analytics company, so naturally I suggest people look at the data,” he said. “If you need ideas on what specific elements work best in audio logos, I refer you to our 2021 Audio Logo Index.”

Results on a budget

Memorable audio logos don’t have to be expensive, Bethell said, as long as the content is unique, evocative and closely identifiable with the radio station being promoted.

He recommends keeping audio logos short, as the attention span is shorter than before.

Top 10 audio logos in the US (left) and UK, according to Vertonic

“At the time, the radio industry used three-minute jingles where we sang all about where the radio station was coming from,” Bethell said. “Today, audio logos have to be very short because we want to bring listeners back to the music.”

As for radio executives who don’t think audio logos matter?

“Whether you’re in a PPM or a calendar market, consumers need to remember you — and then remember to listen to or write to you,” Jacobs said.

“Sound signatures can be that special identifier. Yes, there are other branding practices that are more comfortable and familiar to certain executives because they are more traditional, such as logo design, station voice, and taglines. But in the age of smart speakers, when clear sound branding is more important than ever, standout sound logos are a must. »

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