How Zomato, MG Motor and Mastercard are using the power of sound to build a unique connect with their audience

Zomato has come up with a sonic identity to build a connect with consumersZomato
  • Rajeev Raja’s unique agency, BrandMusiq has been creating MOGOs (musical logos) for brands to help them differentiate themselves
  • A lot of brands believe that the future is sonic and therefore having a sonic identity is critical to reach out to consumers and build a connect
  • Sonic branding helps build brand identity, consumers are able to identify with a simple tune and associate it to the brands
  • The increase of voice assistants in houses across the country has also opened up a lot of opportunities for brands to reach out to its consumers

Remember the days when a song would play on the radio or TV and you would immediately associate it with a brand? Like Cadbury Dairy Milk’s iconic ‘Kuch Khaas Hai’ jingle, or Britannia and Titan’s signature tune? Music has always played a critical role in helping build a brand’s identity.

However, while with the years, we have been hearing less and less of jingles that actually stick to our memories, brands are again trying to use the powerful tool of music to stand out in an otherwise cluttered world. Zomato became the latest platform to launch its musical logo. Users will get to hear this new signature tune on Zomato’s app.

Earlier in the year, Mastercard was in the news for launching its new sonic brand identity. The melody would play whenever consumers used their cards in physical, digital and voice environments. Even HDFC has a sonic branding of its own. Google Pay uses a sound everytime you transfer money. The aim of all these brands has been to establish an emotional connect with its consumers, and come up with a catchy tune that can be immediately recognized.

What’s the appeal of sonic branding?

Rajeev Raja, who is known for his illustrious 25 years in advertising, is also known in the industry for his parallel career of a musician. He started BrandMusiq in 2012 to bring his two passions – advertising and music, together. BrandMusiq specializes in making the use of sounds and music to give brands a unique identity.

BrandMusiq has been helping brands come up with their MOGOs, which stands for musical logos. The last few years have seen a big uptake in the number of brands opening up to the possibilities of sonic branding. Raja feels there are a few overarching reasons for that. He explains, “People’s changing habits of media consumption is slowly leading to this change. Earlier, if a brand had money, TV would help them get the reach. But today, if you look at the media consumption habits of millennials, they are essentially looking at their phone screen, iPad or laptop. So the predominance of TV is slowly coming down.”

In the past, jingles have been effective in helping brands make a way for itself, and creating an identity. However, things are a little different now. Raja elaborates, “The 30-second jingle still has a role a play to play for brands that need TV for its reach, like FMCG brands. However, digital is now an increasingly important medium too but attention spans are very low on digital. So a 30-second piece of music becomes too long to be used online. Also with the digital explosion and more and more apps coming in, there is a lot of functional, navigational use that a MOGO can achieve for a brand.”

The MOGO that BrandMusiq created for Zomato will be used across brand touchpoints including advertising, in the app and as notifications to their partners - restaurants and delivery executives.

How brands are striking the right chord

What are the benefits that brands are deriving out of sonic branding? What is it that they are trying to achieve by investing in an audio identity? And will consumers actually be able to remember a brand by its sonic identity? A few prominent brands that have invested in sonic branding answer some of these questions.

Explaining why Zomato, that already has a very strong digital presence, think of going for a sonic identity, Gaurav Verma, CMO - Branding, Zomato says, “We believe that the future is increasingly going to be sonic. We realized that a number of important transactions are happening behind the screen, like order acceptance, delivery partners reaching the destination; this allows for consumers to get updates without having to lift a finger. We want the Zomato audio signature to be something that consumers instantly recognize, just like they would our logo and visual design.”

The platform believes that the addition of a sonic identity will make help improve the user experience. “When your delivery partner arrives, the distinct sound would notify you to be ready at the doorstep to collect the order without looking at your phone,” elaborates Verma.

For a brand like MG Motor that entered India recently, the task was to create a differentiation for itself in whichever way they could. And sonic branding helped them do just that. Explains Udit Malhotra, Lead, Digital Marketing, MG Motor, “When MG entered India in 2017, the brand was not known and we entered with a clean slate. We had the opportunity of creating our identity from scratch. We came from a school of thought that music holds one of the strongest cognitive resonances. While visual identity is important, a brand’s sonic identity conveys the story, enhances emotional connection and builds attribution. The power of music transcends language, culture and everything visual. MG’s unique legacy and focus on innovation have passed the test of time for over 9 decades. As we enter the latest phase of our brand evolution, it made sense to have these two unique aspects reflected in one cohesive sonic identity. The anthem does just that. It infuses modern sounds such as ‘trap’ and ‘neo-electronica’ with timeless brass arrangements such as the saxophone.”

And do consumers resonate with the brand’s anthem? Malhotra believes they do. “The anthem has received tremendous response from our customers and partners. It’s heartening when you hear your customers use the MG anthem as their ringtone! The Anthem is currently used across our various touchpoints including our 24*7 helpline – MG Pulsehub, all our nationwide dealerships and every piece of content that we create across our platforms including digital, TV and print.”

However, building an identity, sonic or otherwise, does not happen overnight. It takes time for any kind of brand to build a connect with its audience and Mastercard is cognizant of this fact. When asked if they have been able to achieve what they had aimed to by investing in a sonic branding, Manasi Narasimhan, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, South Asia, Mastercard says, “Success cannot be measured overnight. The journey to make its sonic identity as recognizable as its visual identity, which 80% of consumers worldwide recognize, will take at least three years. Realistically, maybe four or five years. With 210 countries around the world, about 50 million merchants and about 1.8 billion consumers, it will take time. We do not want to do everything by tomorrow; we want to test it carefully and roll it out and go deeper.”

As the digital world keeps expanding, brands will only have more and more touchpoints to build a connect with their audience. Google recently reported that there has been a 270% year-on-year growth in voice queries in India. As more and more voice assistant devices find their way into people’s homes, sonic branding is only set to get more important, to give brands an edge and to ensure that consumers remember and recognize them, whenever they see or hear them.

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