John Bartle’s Sonic Branding Straight Talking

Ruth Simmons
June 16, 2020

How do you measure sonic branding?

The most important piece of business advice I was ever given was when I first started talking about sonic branding way back in 2003. That advice came from John Bartle CBE, the first B in BBH. “Yes” he observed profoundly, “all that theory is all very interesting to read about, but can you measure it? If you can’t measure it, it ain’t any bloody use to me”.

It took until November 2009, at the first ever ‘Sound Branding Congress’ (the brainchild of Kai Bronner and Cornellius Ringe), to appreciate that brands were starting to acknowledge the emotional importance of using sound and music in their marketing. But it was very apparent that there was still so much to learn about sonic branding, and it was much, much more than producing a sonic logo.

We heard from colleagues that some forward-thinking brands were already looking at imposing more rigour into the process of choosing and briefing music. However, it was agreed that existing business evaluation frameworks were still ‘missing a beat’.

It would seem, back in 2009, that cost outlay (and how to reduce that investment into procurement and production fees) was still the only metric that was applied to measure the value of music and sonic branding by those brand guardians in charge of the process.

I owed a huge debt to John

But it was there in Hamburg, among much sharing of sound branding concepts, insights and processes, I realised that I owed a huge debt to John. He was so right. Understanding how to define and produce a sonic identity is just the first step. For if brands are to understand the role and effectiveness of music decisions, they need systems that allow for comparison of costs against market rates, potential savings, process optimisation and best practices is vital.

John knew that allocating the money to finding and acquiring music properties would then be an easier conversation to have with the Agency Creative teams, TV producers and Brand procurement departments. It has taken me and my team at soundlounge over 10 years to develop and test those systems, first as individual benchmarking procedures and in 2019 as a 360 analysis of how this all fits together. It’s been a long, road but it was so worth it.

Get in touch with soundlounge’s specialist sonic branding team HERE. We’ll be happy to help with any query you may have.

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