Category Archives: Video

The year of the audio logo

As 2018 gets underway, it’s never been more important for the survival and success of brands to have an audio logo.

Sure, the brands you work with all have logos, fonts, corporate colours and other visual assets coming out the waazoo, but they’re totally unrecognisable to the naked ear. Which means in today’s visually cluttered world, they’re practically invisible.

Without an audio logo, the next great piece of work you put out into the world runs the risk of being lost in the proverbial noise, as people simply can’t consume any more visual stimuli.

Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to our German readers. After all, Germany is considered a leader in audio branding with events like the Audio Engineering Society Conference pushing the field forward every year.

But while I hope you’ll agree that investing in a set of audio assets provides brands with an incredible competitive advantage, it staggers us that some of the world’s most recognisable brands, such as KFC, Apple and Mercedes, have remained silent.

But their loss, is your gain. Because this just goes to show that incredible opportunities exist to (re)define a brand using audio. But don’t wait. Like any brand asset, audio logos (or ear marques) take time for consumers to associate with your brand. In our experience, it takes around 2 years of constant use for a brand’s audio logo to become recognisable. And who’s got time for that?

Thankfully, there’s a (relatively) low-cost and extremely effective way to speed up this process – radio.

Radio is still the most cost-effective way to get a sound to a large group of people and strengthen the connection between a brand and a new (or old) audio logo. By tapping into radio’s reach and frequently your audience on radio, we believe the process can be almost halved.

Once you have established your audio logo, you’ll be perfectly placed to exploit not only radio, but also all the shiny new audio-based products and platforms. Given audio logos only need a few seconds of ear-time to make an impression, they’ll be able to pop in subtle reminders throughout the day – between Siri reading you the news and the weather, or Alexa telling you your to-dos, or right before Google Home plays your favourite podcast.

If you’re an advertiser working with a silent brand trying to cut through ever-shrinking, overpopulated screens, hopefully you’re hearing the warning bells loud and clear.

Here are a few notable successes (and one epic fail) in the audio branding world.


You know the sound. Netflix cleverly plays their ‘babaaam’ logo before every title on their platform, making it one of the most well known audio logos in the world with sonic chops to cut thought on any medium that uses sound. As soon as you hear that short little blast you’re instantly transported to your couch.


Intel was years ahead of the pack with their friendly, yet futuristic, sounding logo which has been used to cut though every touch point imaginable. Even going as far as being used in their packaging. Pretty cool, eh?


When McDonalds launched a campaign in 2003 with Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Lovin’ it” it was the first time they had released the same set of ads worldwide. They would never have imagined that the “ba da ba ba ba” vocal hook would become as globally recognisable as the golden arches themselves.


The adrenalin and excitement of driving an Audi is captured perfectly in the well-known Audi heartbeat logo.

But like everything, it has to be right for the brand…


In 2007 Mercedes adopted an audio logo that was more Sixth Sense than marketing sense. After two years of scaring the bejeezus out of potential customers, they did a marketing ‘recall’ and dropped it all together. It was revealed later that their advertising agency just grabbed an existing sting from a sound library, which explains the lack of brand fit and individual sound character.


We love to over complicate things in advertising. So, if you only remember one thing from this article, make it this: the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign is often as simple as using a consistent voice.

By doing less work and not recasting each ad, you can actually make your campaign more memorable and more effective. All you have to do is find a distinctive voice and stick to your guns.

Humans aren’t always super rational when it comes to our purchasing behaviour. So, the more we can do to make people like and trust a brand the better. And a consistent voice goes a long way in building that trust and making a brand feel dependable.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but a brand’s personality is communicated through the personality you choose. The more we hear from a brand, the more opinions, ideas, and assumptions we have about the brand. So, when we hear from a new voice each time a brand speaks to us, it’s like hanging out with someone who’s in a suit one day, swimmers the next, and occasionally dons a 15th century suit of medieval armour. Which, as you can imagine, makes it very hard to figure out what this person’s all about and form the kind of relationship we strive to create for our clients.

The power of using a consistent voice is that the audience will naturally begin to associate it with a brand. So, the second your brand speaks, people will immediately recall the thoughts and feelings they have about the brand. And that’s before the ad has mentioned who the message is coming from, or what you’re selling. All your previous ads are now paying (even more) dividends.

But as I write this, there are only a handful of brands who are benefiting from the audio shorthand of a consistent voice. Meaning we’re all missing out on creating some serious brand equity. But not only that, we’re essentially starting each ad from square one each time – instead of square three, twelve, or, in some terrific cases like Motel 6, square seven hundred and nine (probably).

So, who’s using a constant voice over to incredible success?

Motel 6 – Tom Bodet (USA)

For a whopping 31 years, the charming Tom Bodet has been telling people that Motel 6 will ‘leave the light on for ya’. This consistency has made the Motel 6 brand a friendly, no-fuss, household name and inseparable from Tom Bodet’s folksy, down-to-earth persona and loveable dad-humour. As well as all their advertising, Tom’s also the voice you’ll hear on your wake-up call.

Motel 6 – Millennials

Motel 6 – Keys

Motel 6 – Facelift

Honda – Garrison Keillor (UK)

American author, storyteller, humorist, and radio personality Garrison Keillor lent his voice to Honda for 15 years. In 2002, we put him forward as a wild card casting idea for Weiden + Kennedy, and given it was a UK campaign for a Japanese car we didn’t hold out much hope. But as you can hear, everything just worked.

Apple – Jony Ives (International)

If you don’t know his name, you’ll definitely know his voice. For almost a decade Jony Ives has introduced every new Apple product to the world. As such, Apple is now synonymous with his softly-spoken passion, intelligence, and humanity.

iinet – David Smyth (Australia)

Traditionally, telecommunications is a rather stale category. But David Smyth’s Irish accent and personable tone has become a household name in Australia. That’s right, an Irish accent for an Australian brand. Not an obvious choice but one that has transformed iinet from a regular telco into a friend you’ve known for years (who just happens to know a bit about the internet).

So, how do you find a consistent voice?

One way is to simply keep using the voice you’ve been using. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – as the saying goes.

Another way is to plan ahead. If you’re thinking you want to tap into the tremendous amount of benefits of using a constant voice for your brand, it makes perfect sense to cast the net far and wide and spend time getting it right. You’re unlikely to find this perfect person in the same place everyone else is looking.

Need a hand?

Earcasting, the voice casting division of Eardrum, has been unearthing the more interesting and memorable brand voices for over three decades. Each week, the Earcasting team venture out to comedy clubs, local theatres and drama school grad shows so you don’t have to. As a result, they have an unrivalled database of distinctive voices to carry your campaign for a long time.