Sonic Branding: 5 Questions to Ask During the Creative Process

by Zuzu Boisson,  Senior Project Manager


I love asking questions.

I’ve found that if you really want to get to know someone well, you ask them questions. What’s your favorite food? Where did you grow up? What’s your astrological sign?

As a member of Made Music Studio’s Client Services team, I’ve met a lot of new people, and gotten to know a lot of brands’ unique personalities. And while I haven’t had the distinct pleasure of reading a brand’s astrological chart, I’ve realized that the questions we ask each other can — and should! — also be asked by marketers who are developing new, distinctive assets for their brands.

Sonic Branding, after all, doesn’t just arise out of a good day at the studio. It is rooted in a brand’s core identity, values and goals, and no two brands are the same. TCM’s recent brand refresh highlighted their dedication to classic film, from curation to context, for example, while American Express needed a sound that reflected the comfort and support they provide their cardholders.

Any detail, large or small, that we can learn about your brand provides us with knowledge that our team can then translate into music and sound. Plus, through the process, marketers might even discover things about their brand they’d never previously considered.

So before any music is made, begin by asking lots of questions! Here are the top 5 we like to start with:


1. Who are we trying to reach?


Are you trying to reach new consumers on sound-on platforms? Is your sonic branding meant to be the rallying cry for your brand’s biggest fans? The true power of sound lies in its reach, so knowing your audience — and where they are, from TikTok to linear streaming — is key to defining your brand’s new sound.


2. What are we trying to convey?


Through our research into sound and its effect on human behavior with Sentient Decision Science, we know that people “think about what they see, but feel what they hear.” So when you close your eyes and listen to your brand’s sonic identity, audiences should feel your brand.

Are there key, undeniable attributes or statements that encapsulate your brand? Comforting and Compassionate? Irreverant and Playful? Let’s work to convey that through music, and let your brand’s soul shine through. If you ask the right questions at the get-go, you’ll listen to your final sonic identity and have that gut feeling: “yep, that’s it.”


3. Where will this live in our ecosystem?


As we notice a consumer shift toward audio-first platforms, we’re learning that sound really can live anywhere. From airport lounges to on-hold music, festival promos to NFTs, brands have the opportunity to include sound across every one of their brands’ touchpoints.

As we encourage our clients to do: think big, and creativity will follow.


4. Why are we even doing this?


Although meetings about your new sonic identity will be lots of fun, with listening sessions and musical knowledge to uncover, we aren’t just getting together to hang out. We’re creating a system of assets together that hold a important purpose within the brand, and for the people surrounding it. Whether it’s to increase brand value, stand out in the market, or refresh your brand identity, create with an intention and you’ll be amazed by what follows.


5. When will this be launched?


Sonic branding shouldn’t live on the shelf. Music is meant to be listened to and appreciated, so have a plan in place to share your new sound loudly and proudly!

The most exciting time in every project is when it goes out into the world. The team can see how their hard work came to life, and the brand now has a new asset that captures your brand’s personality through bespoke music and sound. Whether the new sonic identity makes its debut in a splashy campaign or a staggered launch across social platforms, we encourage our clients to find the perfect time to shout, “we did it.”


For marketers looking to differentiate their brand in the marketplace, diving into sonic branding is already a good first step. So from start to finish: don’t be afraid to ask questions. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to walk away with a plethora of knowledge about your brand — and perhaps an impressive new sonic identity to share.

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