Standing out in the daily media stream is top sport. And not easy in our fragmented media landscape. But with the strategic use of audio you can quickly make progress, according to research by TAMBR and Validators.

Familiarity is the key to a successful brand. After all, how do consumers recognize your brand if they've never heard of you? What is your brand positioning worth if no one knows it exists?

Of course there are differences between brands and it is important to highlight them. But without fame there is no differentiation, positioning or recognition. Our purchasing decisions are ultimately driven largely by routine and recognition, not complex considerations at the point of purchase. Consumers, on the other hand, do respond to brand associations. Shapes, colors and sounds that create an association of the brand in question. The stronger and more numerous those associations, the more likely your brand will surface in a buying situation.

The Unox Effect
Audio is most effective in this, according to repeated research. And let's face it, even the first sounds of the 20-year-old Unox tune immediately open up a world of associations for you. An enviable effect that is nevertheless within reach for every brand. Yes, building a successful brand association takes time. But not 20 years. Already, TAMBR and Validators showed that it takes only a few weeks are needed to create a solid link between brand and audio. Exactly how long that takes does, of course, depend on how far listeners are exposed to your audio asset. And that reach varies by campaign and by expression. So time to repeat our experiment. Fortunately, there was the World Cup in Qatar, equipped with a brand new tune.

The World Cup narrated
That tune was specially composed for the World Cup and was only used during the event. Perfect conditions to investigate the effect of audio marketing. In this case, it was a short sound logo that was heard around the matches. Over the course of the tournament, TAMBR and Validators asked 150 respondents weekly for associations and familiarity with the sound logo. And as expected, recognition of the musical snippet ran nicely with the ratings.


After four weeks, for almost a quarter (23%) of listeners, "World Cup in Qatar" was the very first spontaneous association upon hearing the tune. The week 50 peak is also easily explained: it falls exactly one week after Netherlands-Argentina, which was watched by 5.9 million viewers. The greater the reach of your brand tune, the more likely it is to stick. But not everyone has the oil reserves of Qatar or the reach of FIFA. As ambitious marketers, what can we learn from these results?

Where is the bar?
On average, the sound logo was heard four times per game. At the beginning, twice during halftime and at the end. And we see that after four weeks and five Orange matches, the tune had reached a maximum recognition rate of 23%. If we assume that the average Dutchman only watches Orange matches, we can say that after roughly twenty exposures almost a quarter of the target group already links the sound logo to the sender. Now this is not a benchmark cast in concrete, but it is a nice rule of thumb. Conclusion: after about ten exposures, a good portion of your target audience will recognize you effortlessly, without the need for visual support.

The power of repetition
So the link between audio and sender is quickly established. But how durable is that connection? Do you have to constantly repeat yourself? Or is it also okay to remain silent for a while?

To find out, we conducted another measurement eight weeks after the World Cup. And what emerged? Half of the respondents had lost their association with the World Cup. Where at the height of the Orange fever 23% of the respondents still made the right link, this was now 12%. So a half-life of eight weeks. Fame for an audio asset comes on horseback and goes on foot, it seems. That means you don't have to be "always on," but rather have to make do with cleverly placed musical reminders. Ideally, this is done by combining different brand assets so that shape, color, font and sound refer to each other. This way you strengthen the network of brand associations.

Associations that are not refreshed logically fade into the background, slowly eroding your brand awareness. World titles last forever, but without periodic effort, you eventually lose your brand recognition.

Building brand awareness with audio
Of course, creating and loading a catchy brand sound takes time and requires an investment. But as painstakingly as the average Orange qualifier goes, audio proves effective for your brand awareness:

  • After a dozen exposures with your new brand sound, listeners are already linking it to your brand.
  • With the right media engagement, after just a few weeks almost a quarter of your target audience already knows who you are and what you sound like.
  • Building awareness is faster than its decline. After launch, a regular refresher is the key to sustainable brand growth.


If you want to know more about the opportunities of sound for your brand (communication), please feel free to contact Joris van der Zwan (of Validators) or TAMBR.

This article can also be read at MarketingTribune.