A LESSON FROM CORN FLAKES: THE SNAP, CRACKLE AND POP OF AUDIO BRANDING
It’s the sound of a giggling baby! Although it’s important to note, it’s not just any giggling baby; it’s the right giggling baby. Specific nuances in sound matter. Take, for instance, the struggles of a Philippines coffee company to sell their products in the rainy season. Their marketing depicted whole families sitting inside together, sipping coffee as the winter rain poured outside. The company knew Filipinos liked their rain and their families, so how come linking the coffee to these intimate moments wasn’t working?
It turned out, the advertising company had used a generic Hollywood sound for rain, which wasn’t connecting emotionally with native Filipinos. When the advertisers recorded actual Philippine rain to play in their commercials, sales boomed. The Filipinos had a deep emotional connection to the sound of their rain, so its use triggered feelings of nostalgia, warmth and love—to the benefit of the coffee company. The company found that it couldn’t just rain cats and dogs. It had to rain the right cats and dogs.
Like this Filipino company, more and more brands are using sound to create an identity and to spark an emotional reaction from their customers. Did you know, for example, that the crunch sound that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes makes in your mouth was designed and engineered in a Danish sound lab and patented by Kellogg’s? (Fun Fact: The sound is so important to Kellogg’s that it actually determines the sell by date.) By adolescence, every time you take that first bite of a bowl of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, the sound of the cereal triggers nostalgic childhood memories and jovial feelings, making you enjoy the cereal even more, and turning you into an avid, lifetime customer.
As Martin Lindstrom demonstrated, many generic sounds can trigger the biggest reactions in people: How do you connect a pleasantly addictive generic sound to your product or brand?
You have to tweak it in a way that makes it slightly different than the average sound, and thus, distinguishable. Then, you have to push that sound through every marketing channel you have: it should play in every advertisement; it should play when you open up the brand or product website, and it should be so prevalent that over time, consumer brains will automatically connect the brand and the sound together.