How Sonic Branding Builds Business Value in Conversational AI |

Cecilia Nysing

The world of voice-first and voice-only is upon us. Intelligent voice assistants are becoming an integral part of our daily lives. Interactions with smart speakers increasingly involve voice responsive ads for an immersive conversational experience.

People are busy. They are constantly moving from place to place. Wireless and Bluetooth devices have enabled “active listening” that seamlessly continues their sound experiences wherever they go. With the power of smart technology, they can pause their listening in one location to continue the experience in another, all with minimal interruption.

We have devices to tell us how many steps we’ve stepped in a day. We can change or silence the sounds to our app notifications on our phone to stay as connected or disconnected as we want. Sound enables us to passively listen, retain information, and go about our day.  All that sound asks of a listener is to listen. And unless you take an action of either covering your ears or turning off the sound source; you will.

Rising Above the Noise

With all this being said, not all sound is good sound. In fact, there’s a lot of noise out there. Just because there is an opportunity to insert sound into a brand doesn’t mean that it should be done. There’s confusing or out of context sounds and music, off-brand sounds and music, offensive sounds and music, and the list goes on.

So with all this “noise”, why even bother? How can you justify taking a risk into making the wrong sound or creating “bad sound”? 

Sonic Branding to the Rescue

Sound comes from vibrations that come from movement. As long as there is movement, there is sound. This being said, your brand is most likely already making sound. So what does your brand sound like?

Sonic branding is how you turn noise and/or chaos into strategic brand sound. The keyword here is sound. Sonic branding is creating a unique sound for a brand or company that can then be incorporated into all of the brands’ audio touchpoints in one way or another. By not limiting sonic branding to just music or just voice over, you open yourself up to huge creative possibilities. Understanding that sound is everywhere is like handing over every color in the rainbow to your marketing team saying, “create something”. The freedom and possibilities are limitless.

Curated and Custom Built

Sound marketing and sonic branding is curated and custom built. It’s a premeditated thought on the brand’s end. It’s a sound that is made on purpose. Any branding element should be thought of as an extension of the brand’s persona and so in saying, is developed specifically so that it can be fit within all different elements of your audio touchpoints.

Have you ever used a song in an explainer video or product commercial? Does anyone “speak” for your brand at conferences or presentations? Do you have any sounds on your apps or websites? Who answers your phones? What kind of hold music plays for your customers? What songs are your customers listening to (yes, I believe that is relevant)? 

All of the above are carefully considered as the sound is created. It is not just for (fill in the blank here). Good sonic branding should be able to be manipulated into all sorts of brand audio touchpoints, including Conversational AI and voice assistants.

A Sound to Develop Over Time

Take Mastercard for example. With the help of Amp Sound Branding, Raja Rajamannar and his marketing team at Mastercard spent an extended period of time (18 months) developing and creating the “sound of Mastercard”. When you strip it down to its roots, you find a fairly simplistic mnemonic. But with this simplicity, Mastercard was able to change and manipulate it to fit the use case as it became necessary. What you hear in its point-of-sale (POS) sound is different from what you hear in the television campaigns. However, there is an essence that remains the same.

By taking the time to understand and dissect their sound, Mastercard is now able to morph and rebuild sonic branding over time. This saves time and money on the backend. It also builds brand equity through repetition and consistency creating brand loyalty and recognition. This ultimately turns into a healthy ROI.

Sensory Perception

As sensorial creatures, we want connection. We want to be validated and understood. We want to align with others that feel as we feel. Sound breeds authenticity, sincerity, and loyalty. It humanizes inanimate things, like brands or companies, and gives it a personality. And with personality comes relatability – something that everyone nowadays is hunting for.


Jeanna Isham, is a composer, speaker, author and thought leader in sonic branding and sound strategy. Her career in music and marketing has been an ongoing 20+ year journey and her research and authority reaches over many platforms and geographical locations. Founded in 2009, her company, Dreamr Productions, creates sonic branding and consults on sound strategy and brand messaging. Dreamr Productions merged with Stage Ham in 2017 to create Stage Ham Entertainment, LLC. Jeanna serves as Co-Founder, Head of Audio and as a Producer.

‹ Adaptive Digital Onboarding: Key to Building Customer Lifetime Value

Categories: Conversational Intelligence, Intelligent Assistants, Articles

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