Audio Logos Deepen the Brand-to-Consumer Connection – Now More than Ever

By Scott Simonelli, Founder and CEO, Veritonic

As more people lend their ears to audio content across a variety of platforms, consumer brands are increasingly focusing on sound, making audio logos a mainstay of their marketing strategies.

Audio is fertile ground for connecting with consumers. Podcasts, for example, represent a fast-growing front in audio marketing, creating an opportunity to connect with listeners in an intimate setting at just the right place and time. In 2022, 109 million Americans reported listening to a podcast in the last month, and 74 million Americans reported listening to a podcast in the last week, according to the 2022 Infinite Dial.

Across the board, audio advertising is going strong. U.S. radio and digital services generated an estimated $16.8 billion in ad spending in 2021, according to eMarketer, with $5.59 billion going to digital audio ads, a 16% jump over 2020.   During the next five years, audio ad spending will grow an average of 11% year-over-year, reaching $7.89 billion in 2025.

And audio’s impact in developing relationships with consumers is paramount. Whether it be in the form of audio logos, music, voiceovers, podcast, radio, and streaming audio ads, or functional sounds (such as the ‘ping’ of a messenger app on a smartphone or the sound that your car door makes when you open it), brand sounds leave a lasting impression. An audio logo can establish and increase consumers’ familiarity with a brand and help them associate that brand with attributes such as authenticity and trustworthiness.

Veritonic’s 2022 Audio Logo Index ranks the top audio logos in-market and analyzes what makes them effective. As with Veritonic’s data in general, it helps brands, publishers and agencies understand how to make their audio increasingly effective and efficient by identifying what works and where there is room for improvement, optimizing marketing efforts in a crowded, multi-faceted media environment.

(Paroma –Here is the Index where readers can listen to the audio logos – can we use this one instead?

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Leaders of the Pack

Veritonic’s 2022 Index, the latest of the company’s annual reports on consumer responses to sonic/audio logos, ranks more than 80 across 11 industries. Veritonic measures the overall efficacy of an audio logo through a proprietary combination of an asset’s recall, creative resonance, and brand and industry association scores. Additionally, each logo is compared to benchmarks developed and trained by more than 6 years of machine learning and human response data.

This year’s top 10:

  1. Folgers
  2. State Farm
  3. Liberty Mutual
  4. Farmers Insurance
  5. KFC
  6. Little Caesars
  7. Ace Hardware
  8. Safelite
  9. Red Robin
  10. Arby’s

Insurance historically has set the standard for creative resonance and brand association, and this year is no different, with three insurers—State Farm, Liberty Mutual and Farmers—placing in the top five. Insurance brands score high in familiarity and recall, but also did well in other categories. Consistency of use is a big part of their success, the report found, as is branding early and often, with insurers typically using their audio logo at the beginning and end of ads, and across all platforms. Following that approach, State Farm was seen by consumers as the most trustworthy, familiar (tied with Liberty Mutual), likable and innovative.

The results underscore the importance of including the brand name, as well as tying it to a melody. Most audio logos don’t contain the brand name—only 29% do, the study found—although most (78%) are melodic. But combining the two is most effective. Veritonic’s study found that 45% of respondents correctly identified the brand associated with a logo if it contained the name, while only 6% identified nameless logos. And 20% correctly identified melodic logos, while only 10% got non-melodic logos right.

Among other industries, the audio logos of QSR/Restaurants were more recognizable than those of any other industry, with significantly higher recall and the industry’s ranking for positive emotional resonance scoring 16 points better than the index average. It’s little wonder that QSR/Restaurants had chains finish in the top 10 overall.

Lessons from the Index

CPG. In the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) sector, 82% of the audio logos were melodic and 41% included the brand name, but the sector finished around the middle of the pack in the overall rankings. The exception was Folgers, which ran the table across the five creative attributes and topped the Index’s overall list. Meanwhile, Old Spice, which led the sector’s rankings in 2021, dropped to fourth.

Retail. Results for the Retail sector ran the gamut. Ace Hardware, for example, had an exceptionally high recall score, while Dollar Shave Club, despite being within range of other brands in creative attributes, scored 67 points below Ace—and 36 points below the average—for recall. Although some Retail logos were very recognizable and associated with their brands, others lagged behind the pack, apparently due to a lack of consistent use and creative resonance.

Automotive & Auto Parts. Auto parts companies make greater use of audio logos than automakers, which is reflected in Safelite (which finished eighth in the overall rankings) and O’Reilly Auto Parts leading the industry’s rankings. The industry also has some companies new to audio marketing, such as General Motors and Lexus, whose performance could underscore the importance of following best practices. Consumers found General Motors’ logo unique, for instance, but not familiar. More consistent use may increase its memorability.

Financial. The financial sector lags behind others when it comes to audio logos, with relatively low scores for creative attributes, recall and association. Significantly, none of the banking, credit card and investment companies in the study hit the benchmark for generating feelings of trustworthiness, which is an important metric for financial institutions. And none of the sector’s audio logos could be identified with their brands. TD Ameritrade and Rocket Mortgage led the industry’s overall rankings.

Medical/Pharma. Consumer recognition of Medical/Pharma logos, led by top industry scorer Skyrizi, was remarkably high, even among audio logo newcomers like SmileDirectClub and Linzess. The industry’s average innovation score was six points higher than the overall average. Notably, brands in the Medical/Pharma sector were better identified with the industry than the specific brands, leaving room for optimizing brand recognition.

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Other Lessons

The results in other industries may indicate the potential for growth in audio as an effective marketing vehicle. The Travel industry, for example, isn’t using sonic branding to its full potential, despite frequent advertising on radio, podcasts, and other platforms. Among the brands tested, only Southwest Airlines uses an audio logo in-market.

In the Technology sector, Intel and Sonos did well for creative resonance, but Intel’s audio logo was more recognizable. Overall, the industry’s scores were low. In the Business Services sector, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Grainger differed in the performance of their creative attributes but had similar overall scores. But it’s important to keep in mind that they target business, which could lower their results in a general-population survey.

Consistency Is Key

Veritonic’s report contains a wealth of insights for companies that want to begin using or optimize their audio logos, but one common thread throughout the report is the importance of consistency in sonic branding. Just as songs become catchier when listened to repeatedly, audio logos resonate more effectively when heard consistently. It can make your audio brand just as important as your visual brand when establishing a positive and lasting relationship with consumers.

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