Sonic Branding From WPP Company Comes With Performance Benefits

WPP’s newly acquired sonic branding company amp demonstrated a tool at Cannes built on sonic branding and technology like artificial intelligence (AI) that it launched last month.

Sonic Hub consists of three tools: Sonic Radar, Sonic Check, and Sonic Space. Each of the tools use AI to help create identities for brands.

“They can use the Sonic DNA to recognize a brand," says Michele Arnese, founder and global CEO of amp.

Companies have a visual identity. Now brands want an audio identity. A sonic thread is a recognizable tone or series of tones in which a consumer identifies a brand based on the audio. A consumer might hear it when making a purchase with a MasterCard or watching a football sponsorship.

American adults spend more than 100 minutes a day actively using digital audio, according to Insider Intelligence.



The increasing use and effectiveness of audio and the growing popularity of podcasts, digital music, and immersive entertainment have created the need for global sonic management and improved creative audio output.

Amp -- a sound branding company acquired by WPP in April and integrated into brand and design consultancy Landor & Fitch -- uses Sonic DNA technology to create audio identities for global brands, including Mastercard, Mercedes-Benz, Deloitte, DocuSign, Zurich Insurance, Uber, CVS Health, St. Jude, Klarna, Uber, and Kraft Heinz to name a few. 

Arnese founded the company 14 years ago. “The use of sound and audio has changed a lot,” he said. “It’s important to channels where the visual is completely cluttered. You make a brand more visible using audio.”

Companies now want to build that audio brand with the use of AI, and amp’s focus has expanded into digital audio and music to bridge both cultural and age gaps.

Amp also published its fifth annual Best Audio Brands report, with more than 10,000 data points and 250 global brands analyzed. The index is the standard for brand audio measurement and features expert thought leadership and new sector rankings.

Mastercard and Shell retained the No. 1 and the No. 2 spots in the rankings, with three newcomers rounding out the top five: Aviva, Old Spice, and Colgate.

“This year, for the first time, when you look at the top ten brands, seven of them use more than just a jingle to get consumers to recognize the company,” Arnese said. “They are using audio holistically. This is a major shift.”

Some 92% of brands in the top 25 ranking use a sonic logo, up 17% from amp’s 2022 ranking, and four of the brands used a sonic logo in 100% of their content, up 300% from the 2022 ranking.

Financial Services, Automotive, and Media & Entertainment sectors lead the top 25. Interestingly, amp did not find elements of a holistic identity in the apparel or alcohol sectors this year.

These two industries, apparel and alcohol, had the highest average licensed use at 26.2% and 18.6%, respectively, indicating each likely favor the latter strategy.

Despite the expenditure, the brands in these industries performed only in the middle of the ranking of the top 250 brands, highlighting its relative ineffectiveness even before they consider the cost, even if some of these luxury clothing and spirits brands can afford it.

The study suggests performance marketers are turning to audio. When comparing upper, middle, and lower funnel campaign goals, the bottom of the funnel gets extra attention. Media planners are keenly aware that performance is priority. And luckily for bands, Audio platforms hit the sweet spot with high performance that’s highly trackable.

This year 131 brands have a sonic logo compared with 94 brands in last year’s report. There were 17 new sonic logos. UT, Lieferando, and OCBC Bank Singapore—more than 90% of their content includes a sonic logo. This is well above average for sonic newcomers as sonic logos typically feature in 48% of their content. Last year we saw only one brand use their sonic logo in 100% of their content. This year there are four brands using theirs in all their content. 30 brands have had their sonic logo for around a year, and the average age of a sonic logo from our ranking is 6.5 years. NBC has had its sonic identity for 90 years, and State Farm lays claim to the second oldest at 51 years.

"Brands own their visual logo, their identity," he said. "They also should own their sound. It creates recognition and recall."

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