7. Sonic Branding: An Introduction

13 years ago our CEO Daniel M Jackson wrote a book that marked a seminal moment in the history of sonic branding. The book is called ‘Sonic Branding: An Introduction’.

This week's extract touches on the science of sound and its role as a call to action for the brain...


The sciency bit

In studies conducted on children by the eminent psychologist Roger Brown, it was found that children exposed to new pieces of music that they had never heard before, reacted uniformly to the emotional content of the music, be it happy, sad or aggressive. He provided scientific evidence for the existence of musical devices and archetypes that make us a feel a certain way, regardless of the context, our mood or any prior associations. Anecdotally, we know this anyway. Any group of people listening, for example, to the opening passages of the Jaws theme by John Williams will feel the emotion of fear. It is composed according to stereotype.

This is very good news for sonic branding. It means we can call upon the collective unconscious and design emotional messages. In much the same way as the Bauhaus pointed to a natural relationship between emotion, colour and shape - the dynamic yellow triangle, serene blue circle and static red square - so we can point to similar relationships in melody, harmony and instrumentation.

The ability to engage in emotional engineering is of the essence of branding and is the second reason, along with the call to action, why music is potentially the most powerful branding tool we have. To elevate music and sound above graphics or visuals as brand communicators could be seen as controversial. It is clear, however, that music or sonic stimuli have the ability to move or arouse us more quickly and more deeply than visual stimulus. A picture of a woman laughing may bring a smile to our faces but if we hear that woman's laughter we will probably laugh too. The opposite is even stronger. Pictures of war can be disturbing but to hear the screams and the explosions is far more powerful.

Daniel Jackson - CEO CORD