Sound Familiar? Using sounds and music effects in integrated marketing communication.



Sure, marketers use every tool that they can to entice their consumers to buy their products.  But many times we are so focused on the visual that we forget just how much our ears dictate what we buy from TV, Radio, and Digital Media.  Below I have a few popular brands that have iconic sounds associated with their sales campaigns. See how many you can “hear in your head” even though I give you only the most basic text example with no indication on tone or melody.  How many can you hear in your mind?

AAMCO – Double A, (honk, honk) M C O
Taco Bell – Gong
Intel (what’s inside?) bum, Bum, bum, Bum
McDonalds – da, da, da, da, da… I’m loving it
T-Mobile – da da da DA da
Farmers Insurance – We are Farmers, da, da, da,da, da, da, da.
State Farm Insurance – Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there
Yahoo – Yahoo-o-o
Maybelline – Maybe she’s born with it, (Maybe it’s Maybelline)
NBC – N… B… C…
THX – An orchestra cacophony of sound to a resolution of sound
LG – Da da, Da da, Da da, ping

How about we try it the other way? See if you can name the brand by only listening to their sound.


Sounds can even draw attention from an audience on its way to get a snack during the biggest game of the year, even if the intent is to sound like something is wrong, like this Chevy Silverado Ad during the 2015 Super Bowl.

Musical Branding can influence how fast or slow some people shop (Iordanescu, 2010).

Some research has been done on how sound and music can map the brain to certain inherent human characteristics such as masculine/feminine, good/evil, however, more recent research even suggests that sounds can map other senses such as taste (Knoeferle, 2015). in other words, the next time you hear the McDonald’s “I’m loving it” music, it may affect how you actually taste their food! It’s one thing to have an actor say the words “can you hear me now?” for Verizon, but T-mobile’s pristine four-note melodic catchphrase may be doing more to your brain than any scripted words.

This next paragraph is for our GenX’ers and older (like me)… But what happens to the iconic sounds our past, or songs that are not being used anymore but have been burned into our memory like “The best part of waking up, is Folders in your cup” or “GE, we bring good things to life”?  Sound conservationists rest easy, someone has thought of that. A man by the name of Brendan Chilcutt has created the Museum of Endangered Sounds found here:

Happy Hearing!



Knoeferle, K. M., Woods, A., Käppler, F., & Spence, C. (2015). That sounds sweet: Using Cross‐Modal correspondences to communicate gustatory attributes. Psychology & Marketing, 32(1), 107-120. doi:10.1002/mar.20766

“Music in Advertising; Commercial Sounds in Media Communication and Other Settings.” 2010. Reference and Research Book News 25 (2).

Image used:

Iordanescu, L., Grabowecky, M., Franconeri, S., Theeuwes, J., & Suzuki, S. (2010). Characteristic sounds make you look at target objects more quickly. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72(7), 1736-1741.


Sounds retrieved from

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4 Responses to Sound Familiar? Using sounds and music effects in integrated marketing communication.

  1. Leyla says:

    Hi Manfred,

    I really enjoyed your post! One of the most memorable jingles for me is at the end of the Red Robin commercial: “Red Robin, YUM!” It definitely triggers emotion and a craving for a burger. On the same note, no matter what coffee I drink, I will never forget the Folger’s jingle and sing it in my head when making my daily, morning cup. Along with everything you’ve mentioned, I also believe that these trademark sounds and jingles can trigger memories. I’m sure people can account for many late, adventurous nights out when hearing Taco Bell’s gong or remember the frustration of having poor cell service when hearing T-Mobile’s jingle (at least for me, haha).

    Really fun topic!


  2. Manfred says:

    Totally forgot about the Red Robin jingle! Great find.

  3. Yarasette says:

    Hi Manfred,

    You did a great job for this post! Sadly, I was able to identify your music examples with the brand and I think that marketers did a great job. Jingles (music) are a great tool used for marketers to help the target audience remember the brand, and hopefully ends up in a purchase. It becomes an important part of the brand identity, and also helps the way costumers buy a product in slow or rapid fashion.

    It was a pleasure reading your post!


  4. Umaro says:

    Hi Manfred,

    This is such a great topic!
    People tend not to pay much attention to all these sounds that not only enhance an advertisement, but end up becoming part of the brand. You have provided a great list of examples from Warner Bros all the way down to LG.
    I remembered the Chevy Silverado Ad during the 2015 Super Bowl. It was really effective, a great attention grabber. Simply clever.
    I agree with the findings you suggested here as far as sound influencing and mapping our brains. It would be an interesting study to analyze people’s brains according to their areas of work (i.e. musicians vs. ordinary folks) and see what would come out of it.
    Lastly, I definitely remember Windows 95 Startup sound, AOL dial-up sound, and yes the sound of a CD skipping. You are so right that we may not remember them, but most of these once-ordinary sounds are still stored in our heads. Save the Sounds is definitely a great initiative. Hopefully this guy will get enough funding to expand his library of memorable sounds across the world.

    Good job, Manfred!