Sonic logos, those catchy audio signatures used by brands ranging from Taco Bell to T-Mobile, have become prominent and effective elements in a growing number of commercials. So much so that they have their own competition to ferret out who has the most effective audio brand.
For four years running, Veritonic publishes an Audio Logo Index ranking the sonic signatures of top consumer brands. The report analyzes consumer response, including how memorable they are, if they’re correctly associated with the brand, emotional resonance and other criteria.
Half of the top 10 audio logos in the U.S. in 2020 are major radio advertisers with jingles that probably aired countless times on your station. Liberty Mutual, State Farm and Farmers – all insurance brands among radio’s top 100 advertisers of 2019 – corralled the top three positions. Others in the top 10 that also placed in radio’s top 100 include T-Mobile and O’Reilly Auto Parts.
To arrive at its audio logo hit parade, Veritonic captured the reactions of 3,400 census-representative people across the U.S. and UK in Q1 2020. Panelists listened to each audio logo and scored it based on a range of attributes and were asked if they remember the logo. They were also asked to identify the brand and industry for each logo, and their degree of familiarity with the logo. Veritonic’s platform calculated an overall score by combining emotional response, 48-hour recall and engagement data.
Liberty and State Farm won the highest scores based on recall and familiarity, which Veritonic attributed to their longevity and frequency in the market. Conversely, several sonic logos, from HSBC and Audi, not only couldn’t be properly tied to the brand; a majority of respondents said they had never even heard them.
The benefit of including the brand name in an audio logo was more obvious this year than ever, Veritonic says in a report summarizing the results. State Farm was the big winner here. This year the insurance provider reintroduced the brand name into the mnemonic, a decision that catapulted it 14 positions to No. 2 in the index. “That overall score was driven by high numbers for recall and familiarity, as well as the highest correct brand association in the index,” Veritonic says.
In fact, one of the top takeaways from this year’s index is the importance of audio logos that mention the brand. Those that did had five times the proper brand association than those that didn’t. Nationwide’s decision to go the other way and eliminate all words from their sonic brand led to a staggering 28-point drop in proper brand association. Similarly, Autozone, which declined substantially last year because it had dropped its name from its sonic tag, did not heed that warning; it again scored among the bottom 10 logos.
Insurance brands proved that selling something typically regarded as a little boring doesn’t equate to having a boring brand; it was again the top performing sector.
As if sonic branding wasn’t a complex enough puzzle as it is, this moment in history is forcing marketers to reassess what it means to be a strong, reliable brand. Several made key alterations to their sonic presence as a result, both in ads and the sonic tags themselves. State Farm, for example, rolled out ads with messaging generally about being “there to help” and accompanied those spots with a softening and slowing-down of their iconic brand melody, and in some instances even changed that melody at the beginning of ads. All of the modified ads are among the highest-scoring insurance ads this year. When asked about the impact on brand perception, nearly 50% of respondents said that State Farm’s adjusted ads in particular “increased their positive perception of the brand.”
In another top takeaway, in the U.S., audio logos with a melody outperformed non-melodic logos across the board, with a nearly 15% higher score on average, and 24% higher recall.
“While this year’s Audio Logo Index reveals a lot of perennial brand power and some smart modifications in general, it also looks a bit at how some brands adjusted their sonic identities to our current reality,” Veritonic CEO Scott Simonelli says. “It’s a further testament to just how important sound is in creating the most powerful connection between consumer and brand — maybe now more than ever.”
Veritonic helps broadcasters understand which audio elements, such as voiceover selection, music or audio branding, are resonating in their ads. Some clients include Entercom, iHeart, Sirius XM and Pandora Radio.