• Transform magazine
  • June 21, 2024


The emotional effect of the voice in effective sonic branding


Johanna Cranitch, creative director at MassiveMusic, makes the case that the human voice could be the most effective instrument for a company’s sonic brand.

Sonic Branding is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. The use of voice in sonic branding, however, has not yet been as widely adopted as you may think. Sure, there is McDonald’s and Farmers Insurance but, out of the many brands who are utilising sonic branding as a brand identity tool, less than half of them incorporate vocally-driven identities.

There have been extensive studies into how vocal expression impacts brain function. Reports suggest that certain audio tones and groupings of notes can reach a listener and are then interpreted faster than a played melody.

This shouldn’t be surprising, humans have been communicating this way for thousands of years. We have long cooed at our babies and sung to them before they could interpret our words and language. We laugh when we feel joyful, we cry when we feel sad. All of these audible cues transmit messages to our brains, and inform our emotional response.

So it’s only natural that we would consider the importance of the voice when creating an impactful identity for one of our brand clients.

I have found that the aftermath of Covid throughout the world has brought about the next evolution of the advertising sonic landscape. Developments in brand identity and use of audio within advertising has altered the way creative visions are executed.

Increasingly, nostalgia is becoming a recurrent theme with human interaction and connections central to a lot of new creatives. This is to be expected considering we were all so deprived of these emotions during the worst of Covid and social distancing. We’re still playing catch up on the missed connection and humility during those years.

When looking across the pond to my London colleagues’ recent work for Colgate, I could only clap in applause and enthusiasm. The key of D major (in which the brand identity was crafted from) is historically known as the ever persistent, sunny and enigmatic key signature. This is extremely fitting for Colgate who tasked MassiveMusic with creating their musical ‘smile’.

Instead of using a traditional approach of an organic instrument such as a marimba or piano, they chose to only use the voice. Because of the faster response time to the brain, the relationship of the notes to the major key, they ended up with an identity that is not only instantly recognizable and memorable, but it's pleasant to hear and, dare I say it, makes me feel joyful when I hear it.

But why? Is it the perfect marriage of that particular scale, with the chosen notes and intervals? Or is it the fact that the human voice is much more memorable to humans than an instrument that is played?

Further to that, the effectiveness of that voice and in this instance, and the melody utilized to convey the message of the brand quickly and efficiently, cannot be denied.

As Henry Wadsworth Longellow famously said, “The human voice is the organ of the soul.” Then, why not consider using it when you think about the next sound of your brand?