Audio Signatures

It's rare that a week goes by that someone doesn't ask me about audio signatures. An audio signature is a small memorable sound that's played in a company's advertising to enhance name recognition. It can be any number of things. A few notes of music, a sound effect, even the way your businesses name is said. Here's a few example you may recognize.

Intel is a good example of a melodic audio signature. Unless you're from Canada you may not recognize Koodo, but it's a pretty good example of a "vocal audio signature," and Southwest Airlines has a good “SFX audio signature."

Audio signatures are actually really cool! It can be a considered a form of subliminal advertising. If you properly get your brand attached to a certain sound people may be reminded of your business even if they aren't actively listening. They hear your little audio flare and their brains automatically link it to your company. Sounds like it should be illegal eh? Let's talk about the Southwest Airlines audio sig. You may not even think of that as an example, but it really is. The great thing about this one is it's a sound effect related to their industry. I'm sure people have sat on rival airlines and subconsciously thought of Southwest when that little "ding" went off in the cabin. The more often you can have people thinking of your business the better. Especially with "SFX audio sigs." If you choose a sound effect related to your business, and hammer it home as "yours" enough, you essentially get free advertising whenever someone hears that sound. For example, if you're a mechanic and your advertising always uses this sound in your ads

People might just think of you when they hear that noise. You didn't even pay a dime. But, there are a few really important things to remember if you'd like to use an audio signature.

  • Use it religiously - This is the most important thing I can tell you. If you want to use an audio sig, make sure you always use it. It is a major part of your brand. If you want people to think of you when they hear the sound, it must be in every commercial you run. Not only that, it must be used in the same way. Preferably it should be by your business name or attached to your slogan. The more times a listener hears your signature, the more effective it becomes. Which also means...
  • Don't use one if you can't afford high frequency. Well, I shouldn't say "don't use one." Just don't expect it to work well. If you think it just sounds snazzy, feel free. But, it won't deliver results in listener retention. Ultimately, if you want to use an audio sig, you need to put some major muscle behind it, and you want to use it forever! Don't quit. Because...
  • It may take years to work. That's ok though, because your audio signature isn't your message. It's just an extra tool in your toolbox. You still need to have an interesting message to have anyone notice your commercial. Here's an example of a really old audio signature.

You probably recognize that one as the NBC audio signature. NBC is a great example of sticking with an audio sig. One of my hobbies is listening to old radio shows from the 40's and 50's. When I listen to old "X minus One" broadcasts, they always finished with that signature. NBC has used those chimes since 1929!!! That's over 80 years of equity in their audio signature. Be like NBC. Stick with it, and use it on everything.

So what kind of audio signature would be good for your business? Is an audio signature even a good idea for your business? Do you have the cash to push it hard enough so people recognize it as yours? They are definitely worthwhile. But, only if they are used the right way. The good news is, you don't have to wait 60 years for yours o be effective. Start today, and it will become more valuable after every single time it plays.