Sonic Branding, sometimes referred to as Audio, Sound, or Acoustic branding, is the practice of using auditory elements to brand product or service. It has been around since the Golden Age of Radio, with NBC, officially registering its audio mark in 1950. Since then, with key focus on visuals, it has been definitely underutilised within the branding industry. However, with the raise of audio usage transforming the market, it may soon change its course.

Just a few weeks ago, Mastercard announced its new Sonic Branding architecture, which sparked even more attention around the subject of audio. With its recent introduction, Mastercard is now also expressing the brand via sounds, helping users recognise and engage with the brand on a whole new level of brand experience. Driven to develop much more than just a jingle for the brand, the MasterCard team worked with agencies and artists, around the globe, like Mike Shinoda, Linkin Park, to ensure global consistency, yet maintain local relevance. Planning to introduce and roll out a series of melodies in the coming year, acoustic is being adapted in certain countries and regions, including UAE.

Apart from market dynamics, key motivation behind the exercise, was to engage and get closer to the consumer; “We want to connect with our consumers with [all of] the five senses”, mentioned Mastercard’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Beatrice Cornacchia.

The process took almost 18 months in development and was inspired and guided by 5 key attributes: Relatable and Inclusive, Passion, Surprise, Delight and Captivating. MasterCard was looking to find a melody that would connect with anyone, regardless of where they are coming from – making it memorable, surprising and sophisticated, while transmitting the positive brand energy.

With still a lot of work ahead, the brand is looking to introduce sonic branding at every touch point of consumer interaction with MasterCard, while inserting some beats to add local flavors across regions like the Middle East, select African nations, and across the Globe.

Since the introduction of Siri and Alexa, the world around us is transforming at an incredible pace, where looking at expressing your brand through music, is definitely a step ahead for any brand experience. It is interesting and truly exciting to witness MasterCard rolling out its new strategy and regionally adapting Sonic Brand Architecture. However, we would expect for it to take some time in implementation, depending on the infrastructure of each market.

In the coming decade, the key driving force behind a company’s success will be brand and voice. We’ve lived in an over-saturated visual world, where brands have been competing for customer’s attention, either via images or video content. That is changing with the emerging technology and major growth of audiobooks, voice assistants and smart speakers. Now is the time for marketers to invest in audio to remain competitive.