July 12, 2024

Creating a sonic strategy

Brad Power, Creative Director at Stellar Entertainment, discusses sonic strategy as an element of branding…

Style manuals set out guidelines to make sure all things visual are consistent with the brand. But what does a brand sound like?

A sonic strategy addresses this question and provides a unique tool to connect with customers. Creative questions such as the styles of voice- over, inflight safety announcement (for example, age and gender), promotional podcasts and boarding music should all be addressed in a sonic strategy. It’s a style guide for your ears.

A universal language

American poet and educator Henry Longfellow said: “Music is the universal language of mankind.” This is particularly meaningful in the transport industry as language barriers can be a challenge.

The brain will associate music with brands, memories and experiences. Our echoic memory allows us to sing songs and hum tunes that we never set out to learn, but know them and find them comforting and reassuring.

Promoting familiarity

A sonic strategy can promote familiarity for the passenger with the brand. A familiar tune or song can create trust and loyalty. 

Examples include the Qantas use of the Peter Allen hit I Still Call Australia Home in ad campaigns and Singapore Airlines’ musical styling of the phrase Singapore Girl: You’re A Great Way To Fly. These were hugely successful and recognised as being associated with those brands by the consumer.

As Grammy and Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer said: “If you talk to any director they’ll say music is 50% of the movie.” We ran an ad campaign for Stellar some years ago that was headlined “Before doing your next budget for music and audio, try watching Star Wars with the sound turned down”.

Soundscapes to suit

We recently created a boarding video for China Airlines. It is an important part of its branding plan and required a matching soundtrack that complemented the imagery of Taiwan’s natural beauty. As part of the China Airlines sonic branding strategy, we worked with our composer to create a soundscape that reflected the unique qualities of the video.

Using a mix of contemporary and traditional instrumentation and melodies, we created a very special audio soundtrack for the passenger boarding experience. We believe that a clear, focused sonic branding policy brings advantages to the overall brand awareness of China Airlines, and helps create familiarity and trust among their passengers as soon as they board.