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We respond to sounds more than words or even visuals. We hear sounds in our body. They spark our richest memories, as they reside, permanently embedded, in our psyche. So how about when it comes to branding?
Turns out that adding an audio dimension to your brand can offer people a much more emotional connection. As we position our brands with a shared purpose and unique personality, getting beyond the rational of the “what” and the “how” to the “why” can be accelerated by sound.

The Neuroscience of Earworms

Earworms are those infectious bits of music or sound that pop music calls “hooks.” They get people to listen and to remember.
“Researchers have noted that the shorter and simpler the melody, the more likely it is to get stuck in your head — this is why some of the most common earworms are jingles and the choruses of pop songs.” Tim Faulkner, How Commercial Jingles Work, How Stuff Works
Let’s go a little deeper into how the brain embraces earworms. This stuff is primal. It goes to the very nature and wiring of our brains over millennia. And it is a great way to form deep and sustainable connections.
“Throughout human history, rhythm and melody have been used to carry information from person to person, in the form of epic poems, songs or storytelling. ‘Jingles are using the same neural resources for the communication of ideas about brands,’ says Dr. Bradley Vines, director of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, Europe. The research shows that rhythm, rhymes and repetition—the essential building blocks of the jingle—are hooks that catch in long-term memory and firmly entrench the idea in a person’s mind.”
With Brain Science, We Can Hear Why A Jingle

How have brands used sound in the past?


  • McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” positioned the brand as delivering on what a consumer wants in a fast food dining experience.
  • “Like a good neighbor State Farm is there” informed customers and prospects of what it feels like to have someone watching over you in times of trouble.


  • Wendy’s little old lady yelling, “Where’s the beef?” made us laugh and reminded us that burgers are about a quality and weighty patty, not all the distractions.
  • Farmer’s Insurance, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two” is a reminder that you can only trust an insurance company that can deal with anything that comes your way.

Licensing famous songs

  • Nike used The Beatles’ “Revolution” as their anthem, connecting the sentiment to revolutionizing your life by just doing it.
  • Kia Soul’s spokeshamsters partied to Lady Gaga’s “Applause” turning driving into a rolling party with friends.

Note sequences or tones

  • HBO’s “white noise” gets you salivating for a new kind of original programming.
  • The sound a Mac makes when starts up is a reminder that your creativity is about to be served.


  • Tevanthology is a compilation of music that Teva gave retailers at MAGIC in Las Vegas to share their brand vibe.
  • Soundtrack Your Brand was started by a Beats Music cofounder and an ex-Spotify executive to deliver the power of music streaming technology to brick & mortar brand experiences, using music curated to reflect brand purpose, positioning and attitude.

All of these audio cues are built to get our attention and flood us with associations regarding a specific brand.

How you can use audio branding now?

  1. BE PURPOSEFUL. Make sure your audio branding represents and supports your brand purpose. Do know the soul of your brand and express it in sound. Don’t hit a bad note by using surf music as the anthem for a sophisticated fashion brand just because you like it.
  2. BE FOCUSED: Whatever you choose as your audio branding component, keep it consistent. Do repeat its use over time. Don’t use it as a tactical campaign…the earworm will not take hold.
  3. BE PASSIONATE: Really show yourself here by picking a soundtrack that thrills and delights. Do make a bold choice that feels right. Don’t hold back with something that is safe or could be claimed by a competitor.

For more on the “Killer Be’s” of brand story, check out our book, SHOUT! You can download it HERE.
So be bold. Choose your brand’s soundtrack and share it with your community. Whether it be a series of tones they associate with your product, like the sound of a Mac starting up, or the kind of music they hear on hold or in a retail store or in your videos. Or even gifting people a music compilation that says, “This is who we are and thanks for listening.”

By Len Jacobson

Len is a motivator of meaningful dialog for clients. A frequent speaker on the power of story, Len shares insights on making brand stories real—from daily connections between colleagues, and how they share their purpose and passion with the world around them, to the way individuals and brands connect, engage, and build thriving brand communities.

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