Will 2022 be the year of the “sonic boom”? | Media


There’s a rising tide of awareness in the sonic brand world, and 2022 just might be the year of the ‘sonic boom’. A year in which branding experts and marketers finally master the power of sound and begin to capitalize on its ability to emotionally engage with consumers.

So how could this play out and what are the likely implications for the industry?

1. Branding agencies will increasingly make their way in offering sonic branding services

Until recently, large agencies typically outsourced a sonic branding agency when a client needed a sonic identity. However, that is changing. Agencies with existing brand expertise will increasingly hire or partner with music production experts to offer a full suite of music brand services. Where demand increases, so does competition.

2. TikTok will drive a wave of music investment

Confirmation of TikTok as the fastest-growing social app will drive increased interest in music from brands keen to connect with its billion-strong audience. TikTok has rightly put sound and music at the heart of its marketing strategy – and it’s already paying off, both as a launchpad for new artists, but also for brands that want to forge deep connections with the TikTok generation.

3. The proliferation of voice interfaces will continue to drive sound investment

The growing prevalence of voice assistants and smart speakers means that screens no longer dominate the way we interact with brands. As brands increasingly lose the ability to engage with consumers through visual media, audio engagement will become increasingly critical. This will drive a growing wave of brand investment in in-brand music, voice and sounds.

4. The subconscious power of music will reign supreme

Sound, and music in particular, operates primarily at a subconscious level. This is primarily a response from System 1 (subconscious) rather than System 2 (conscious) – especially when paired with visual content (eg an advertisement). The ability to quantitatively measure this implicit response will become critical in the assessment of sonic effectiveness.

5. Smart Marks Will Become More Tactical With Sonic Mark

Brands will become smarter about how they use their sound assets. Providing a brand sound signal at the most appropriate consumer touchpoints is a highly effective approach to building brand awareness quickly. Think Netflix’s “ta dum” delivered at the precise moment the consumer is in a relaxed yet hyper-receptive state, or Mastercard adding its sonic logo at the precise moment a purchase is confirmed.

6. Sonic branding will expand into strategic sonic marketing

It’s only a matter of time before many brands extend their new sound expertise to the assets they use in marketing. Matching their sound marketing to their overall brand personality is not only smart marketing, but will also help build brand awareness with every consumer interaction.

7. A growing gap between haves and have-nots

I expect to see a growing value gap between brands that have a well-designed sound strategy and those that don’t. Those who ensure that their investment in music creates distinctive sonic brand assets will ultimately build their brand visibility through a cohesive sonic approach that resonates with their desired brand personality. Those who are unlikely to disclose brand visibility to competitors.

8. More advanced sound testing will mitigate risks associated with subjective decision making

There will be increased use of specialist consumer testing to reduce the level of subjectivity in audio branding/marketing decisions and increase the certainty of a healthy return on investment. Sonic testing won’t replace creativity, it will inspire it. Reliable tools will optimize final decision making before launch. These tools will also help substantiate and justify sonic brand investments.

9. Major music publishers will introduce brand personality search into their catalogs

Publishers with large catalogs currently use a plethora of music tagging approaches to help them navigate their catalogs and match music to client briefs. Sometimes this is done manually and others use AI tagging. As music moves to the top of the brand asset chart, the need for a brand personality filter will become increasingly important for brands pursuing a holistic and strategic approach to brand management.

10. There will be a flurry of venture capital and M&A activity in the sonic branding and marketing industry

While sound identities and sound strategies are set to become de rigueur for the majority of brands globally, 2022 will mark the start of rapid industry consolidation and innovation. It won’t be Spotify, iHeart Radio or Universal Music that emerge as industry leaders – it will be companies with deep brand expertise that apply proven brand strategies to the music medium.

Whatever your current view of the importance of sound in branding and marketing, the growing sonic rumble is bound to become a sonic boom. You don’t have to be deaf to the opportunity – for your brand, your customers or your career.


David Courtier-Dutton is Managing Director of SoundOut

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