• Transform magazine
  • May 20, 2022


Currys PC World and Pepsodent rank highest in SoundOut’s personality report

Record Player

UK computer and software retailer, Currys PC World, and American toothpaste brand, Pepsodent, ranked number one in the UK and US category, respectively, of the new report by sonic testing company, SoundOut. The report explores the role of personality in sonic branding and sonic logos.

Amongst all the UK brands analysed, Currys PC World was found to have the highest compatibility rate (95%) between its brand personality and sonic logo, followed by ASDA and Guide Dogs. In the US, Pepsodent came first with a 96% matching rate, with Hyundai and Audible ranking second and third. 

SoundOut used a personality matching technology, BrandMatch, developed in partnership with Goldsmith, University of London, to analyse 135 US and UK brands. Consumers were asked to imagine the brand as a person, so to define their personality, and how the brand would sound. The results were compared to see how much of the imagined brand personality matched the imagined sonic identity.

The report shows that a brand’s sonic logo must start life as close to the personality of the brand as possible and then, for an extended period of time, be played alongside other brand assets. This ensures that the consumer will consciously attribute the sonic logo to the brand on a standalone basis.

The personality match is essential to achieve a distinctive brand asset (DBA). A brand’s sonic logo will only become a DBA when, if heard in isolation, people immediately think of the specific brand behind it, the report reveals. The goal, in fact, is to create a sonic identity that most effectively triggers an instant brand association. One of the most striking examples of this is Netflix, whose ‘tadum’ sonic logo is probably one of the most recognisable in the world.

For David Courtier-Dutton, founder and director of SoundOut, the key lies in consistency. “Brands have to be consistent across all their assets, which includes the sonic identity as well. If they’re consistent, they become authentic and are then hopefully trusted more. And trust is the key to build brand equity.”

Brand appeal is also fundamental. “If you don’t like a song, you will struggle to remember who sung it or the lyrics. You’ll never going to put that song on Spotify because it doesn’t tweak your emotions. It’s the same for brands. If the brand has a low appeal, then the ability to connect the logo with the brand is incredibly low. The report shows that if people dislike your brand, investing millions in sonic branding will not do any good. It’s just going to be a sound alongside the brand and won’t become part of the brand personality,” Courtier-Dutton says.

The report also finds that 17 of the top 35 UK sonic brands include the name of the brand in the sonic, like “Just Eat” but top two do not include the name. This demonstrates that, while the name is a powerful cue, it is not essential. The sonic logo per se, and the sounds it makes, is key. Not every sonic logo will catch on, Courtier-Dutton says.

“Consumers have to like the actual sound of the logo, it’s not just about personality. It’s like a pop song, where people have to like it before opening their subconscious, which triggers the emotions,” he says.

Overall, the report points to the growing importance of sound and sonic identity in branding. With the sense of sight often saturated by the constant barrage of images and videos, brands can really take advantage of hearing.

“We don’t have ear-lids. We can’t shut our ears. If you are one of the few brands that has a sonic asset which can actually get through the drum and trigger emotions, then it's a massive opportunity,” Courtier-Dutton says.

To read the full report, click here.