Modern Marketing

Branding 101: How to anchor a brand in sound using AI and talent feat. Mastercard

  • Mastercard is pushing the envelope by delving into the realms of sonic branding, to impact and connect more closely to their customers.
  • No one does this better than Mastercard, which has not only launched its own sonic logo, but put considerable weight behind its sonic branding venture by launching an album and building a an AI-powered studio that helps its employees create renditions of its sonic logo for different contexts.

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Branding 101: How to anchor a brand in sound using AI and talent feat. Mastercard

Today content reigns supreme, and brands have to fight to be remembered. For some brands like Klarna, the route to being memorable is choosing colors, text, and imagery that stands out. “But why only prepare a feast for the eyes?” says Mastercard, a brand which has carved out its own identity in the realms of sound in the past five years.

Five years ago, Mastercard released its own sonic “DNA”, a 30 second melody which the brand engineered specifically to be adaptable to multiple contexts and regions. The firm also adapted this 30 second melody to a 3 second version to be played during advertisements and a 1.6 second version that is played when customers make payments with the company’s card.

“Just as our iconic red and yellow interlocking circles immediately evoke Mastercard visually, our sonic brand is designed to build brand awareness through sound. Our sonic DNA is a meticulously crafted architecture that enhances brand recognition in audio environments,” Mastercard’s CMO, Raja Rajamannar told me.

Why build a sonic brand

Unlike visual branding like logos, sounds are transportive and highly evocative. For me, it’s nearly impossible to listen to Unwritten by Natasha Beddingfield and not think of the Pantene commercial playing on TV while I sat with my mom eating snacks on the couch, more than 10 years ago.

But most brands stop after leveraging a popular song and singer. Those that haven’t have put out sounds in the world that are reminiscent of their brand. Think of Twitter’s bird chirp notification bell or the iPhone camera shutter or the phone’s bootup sound.

It is possible to make this sound-based identity travel even further, especially for those brands that can’t rely on hardware and UX.

Our ears are excellent at recognizing and remembering beats and rhythms – it’s why oral history has so often relied on song, and so sonic branding is a way to be there when there is no billboard or splashy packaging.

How to build a sonic brand

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