CHARGE meets Emma Byford and Ed Trotter, from MassiveMusic

As we approach CHARGE Europe (23-24 October), we’ve been asking our top speakers and partners to reveal their approach to branding in energy. In this article, we speak to Emma Byford, Senior Account Manager and Ed Trotter, Head of Business Development at MassiveMusic

How do you define sonic branding? 

Sonic branding is a strategic approach to sound, music and voice across everywhere that the brand is heard. When we talk about sonic branding, lots of people immediately jump to reference sonic logos such as the Intel chimes or the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” whistle. These immediate reactions highlight the value that sonic logos have as key brand assets, driving recall and memorability, but sonic branding goes beyond this. It’s about building a holistic system of sound.

When a brand has a clear sense of its own sonic identity, it can live across all touchpoints including digital, apps, events, and more. It can help them tell better, more emotive stories in their advertising, and it can help them connect with customers through music-led activations.

Sonic branding isn’t a new thing, but it’s still new to a lot of brands, and we’re here to help make that happen.

What did you say when you were convincing brand and marketing specialists to take music and sound seriously? 

On a simple, human level everyone understands that sound is a uniquely powerful thing. Universally we find the sound of baby laughter pleasant, while nails on a chalkboard gives a visceral, negative reaction. We all have a favourite song; something that gives us goosebumps when we hear it or brings us back to a specific moment in time. We can all whistle or hum some of the most famous sonic logos. We all remember a commercial from our childhood featuring a catchy jingle that our brains simply won’t let us forget. The human truth that we are wired for sound is always the starting point for any discussion about brand sound. 

Going one step further, we can also prove that optimising a brand’s approach to sound can lead to measurable benefits including recall, brand affinity, preference and more. For example, a recent study by IPSOS found that sound is the strongest asset for driving branded attention in advertising, but is somehow still being underutilised.

Lastly, brands risk falling behind competitors unless they have a clear approach to their use of music and sound. We live in an increasingly audio-driven world, demonstrated by the rise in podcasting and sound-on social platforms. Without wanting to sound overly cliché, you need to be able to “cut through the noise” in order to stand out and strengthen your brand. 

What are the first 3 ingredients that go into a successful sonic branding recipe? 

A sonic identity needs to be ownable, relevant and consistent. To be ownable, it needs to capture the essence of the brand and embody everything that it stands for through sound. To be relevant, the palette of sounds used need to be authentic to the brand’s personality. It should also be crafted to enhance the brand’s content so that it can reach their audience where they most commonly interact with them. Finally, to be consistent it needs to be used. When you think of the most well known sonic identities, those that often stand out are the ones that are used continuously which helps to strengthen recall and recognition over time. When you tick all three of those boxes, you have the foundations of a really powerful sonic identity.

What are you most looking forward to this year at CHARGE?

The energy sector is going through a fascinating evolution. We’re looking forward to learning more about the specific challenges and opportunities that brands are facing so that we can explore how sound and music can help them to achieve their goals. 

We also love chatting to people about music; it’s a passion point shared by almost everyone so it helps that’s part of the job!

MassiveMusic is a global creative music agency, helping to elevate brands through a strategic use of music, voice and sound. This includes everything from sonic branding, to search & licensing, music activations, and much more in-between. 

They’re lucky enough to work on a huge range of projects for some of the most well-known brands in the world. Launching The Sound of TikTok has definitely been one of their highlights of the year so far. The brand has really embraced its sonic identity so it’s amazing to see how quickly it has been building recognition around the world, from TikTok users and non-users alike!

Using the right music makes a real impact and emotional connection with the audience so it was great to be able to work with E.ON on their latest campaign. MassiveMusic oversaw a re-record of “Time Is On My Side” to highlight the importance of taking action on the climate crisis with the music helping to reinforce the sense of urgency.