How Sonic DNA is Revolutionizing Branding with amp

How Sonic DNA is Revolutionizing Branding with amp

Interview by Anja PaspaljAnja Paspalj
Published: July 31, 2023

Who Is Karolina Namyslowski

Karolina is a creative director at amp and leads the Creative Team. She has degrees in Musicology, Music Informatics, Philosophy, and Cultural Studies from the University of Music in Karlsruhe and the renowned KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology). Karolina conceptualizes, packages, and brings to life all of amp’s creative output, from the translation of a brand’s attributes into musical parameters and concepts, to creative consultancy, guidance, and quality control.

Brands are continuously on the lookout for new ways to differentiate themselves on marketing. By tapping into sonic branding, they may have finally found the missing piece.

This innovative approach to branding combines creativity with strategy to take the next step toward creating an immersive brand experience that is certain to stand out.

We spoke to Karolina Namyslowski, a creative director at ampone of the pioneers of sonic branding, about how to utilize the power of sonic, what it takes to create a brand’s sonic DNA, and how sound is revolutionizing the branding landscape.

Logo for amp Sound Branding

Spotlight: According to WPP, 75% of Gen Z consumers say that music helps them to feel more connected to brands. Why is sonic branding quickly becoming the most innovative approach to branding and how can brands best utilize the potential of sonic branding?

Karolina Namyslowski: Sound and music have a profound impact on human emotions and can evoke specific feelings or associations. Brands can and should use this potential to create a memorable and emotional connection with their audience, leading to increased brand recall and loyalty.
Here are some key tips to utilize the power of sonic:

  • Know your audience. Only with this understanding are you able to create a sonic identity that resonates with the intended consumer base
  • Design a unique Sonic Identity that captures and expresses the essence of your brand, instead of trying to follow or mimic the latest music trends. Gen-Z looks for authentic and genuine branding rather than copycats. Staying true to your brand is a key driver for establishing and retaining consumer trust through sonic
  • Flexibility must connect with consistency. Consumers expect brands to have a consistent personality or expression. This does not mean they want to hear the same jingle all over. To successfully engage your target audience, you need to ensure the flexibility of your sonic identity. We at amp invented the Sonic DNA® design process that allows for flexibility across touchpoints and optimal storytelling while creating a red thread throughout the 360-degree brand experience

How have you seen the sonic industry develop since amp was founded in 2008? 

The biggest paradigm shift happened surrounding the topic of awareness. Sonic branding has evolved from a niche concept to a recognized and valuable component of brand identity. Brands are increasingly leveraging sound and music to create emotional connections, differentiate themselves, and deliver memorable experiences across various channels and touchpoints.

Technological developments like the rise of voice assistants have forced the industry to shift to a customized and cross-channel-based approach, expanding the implementation landscape beyond traditional mediums such as TV and radio. In my early days in Sonic Branding, music and sound were treated as a "mystical" or "esoteric" medium, however, brands are now following a data-driven approach, and are both acknowledging and using the science and measurability behind sonic to their advantage.

amp invented Sonic DNA®, the distillation of brand attributes to create a memorable brand identity with the help of insights-driven data-backed analytics. What are the steps to discovering a brand’s Sonic DNA® and what data must be researched in this process?

Sonic DNA® is an audible translation of a brand into sound. To successfully create this audible expression of a brand, our creative team analyzes the brand, its values, and positioning, then translates this into concrete parameters. 

Our team consists of experts that rely on more than just gut feelings. We have the expertise and know-how to shape a piece of music to trigger and express the brand’s desired emotions. Yes, music is personal and can be subjective. However, the perception of music can be influenced when considering the science behind it. With this know-how, we can measure the brand fit, recall, uniqueness, and engagement of a piece of music. This allows us to compare different creative routes at all stages of the creation and development process.

Visual of amp Sound Branding's strategy
(Source: amp Sound Branding)

amp also has a range of Sonic Hub® tools such as Sonic Radar®, Sonic Check®, and Sonic Space®. What role does AI play in the Sonic Hub tool ecosystem?

amp’s Sonic Hub® is the first product of its kind that serves as a sonic ecosystem and workstation for brands looking to create and instill sonic excellence in all their brand experiences. Sonic Hub® is a cloud-based SaaS solution customizable for brands to complete their sonic lifecycle. AI helps to monitor audience behaviors and utilizes easy-to-understand data metrics to quantify sonic brand impact.

While AI contributes to our creative processes, it cannot replace the inherent human creativity that arises from our unique cognitive abilities, experiences, and perspectives. The synergy between human creativity and AI technology has the potential to kickstart many exciting and innovative possibilities in the future. However, true creativity involves originality, imagination, and the ability to think outside the box. It encompasses the ability to combine disparate ideas, make intuitive leaps, and express unique perspectives. These qualities are deeply rooted in human consciousness.

The position of chief music officer is becoming a more frequent role for big brands. What are companies looking to achieve by investing in this segment of branding? 

I think brands need to be very careful with this role. Qualification is key. I have encountered a lot of music connoisseurs and DJs in similar positions. While I understand they have aspirations, I truly believe that it requires a deeper knowledge from sonic branding experts to translate a brand into sound and successfully run a sonic branding project. After the implementation of the Sonic Identity, I can see opportunities for a music department or chief music officer to step in and contribute.

You were recently acquired by WPP. How does working with WPP broaden the brand experience that amp offers to its clients?

With amp being part of the Landor & Fitch Group at WPP, our clients now have access to an unparalleled breadth of design capability - graphic, digital, motion, physical, product and experiential – and, of course, sonic. Integrating more closely with Landor & Fitch, and its diverse roster of clients, will give us the opportunity to scale our award-winning Sonic DNA® design framework and our sonic AI platform Sonic Hub® within a broader brand identity context.

With the rise of streaming, podcasting and short-form media, audio has become a critical component of the marketing mix. Our global team of creatives, sonic experts, producers, client leads, and researchers will team up with Landor & Fitch and WPP to unleash the power of audio, making brands sound better and to help all our clients create immersive experiences that engage and drive competitive advantage.

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You have worked with some of the biggest global brands, including Adobe, Dove, and more recently, Avocados From Mexico. How do you approach sonic branding for clients in different industries (like the ones listed)?

Every brand claims to be unique. We aspire to aid in this differentiation for brands when it comes to the development of their sonic identities. Our creative output is not only an expression or extension of the brand, but also a strategic tool for our brands to deal with challenges that they encounter within their sector. While one brand might want to differentiate itself from its competitors, another brand might be in the process of rebranding and choose to use music to achieve a shift in consumer perception. In both cases, we make sure that our creative deliverables drive and support these overarching brand goals.

What industries have you found to be the most interested in exploring sonic branding for their companies?

Historically you could argue it was CPG brands with jingles etc. If we look at what we consider to be a more modern view of sonic branding, the automotive industry dominated the conversation in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Now we are seeing more and more interest from the financial sector both on the banking and fintech side, as well as insurance. 

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As sonic branding continues to gain significance in the branding landscape, how do you anticipate its role evolving in the future, and what steps can brands take today to prepare for this sonic revolution?

Instead of throwing money out the window on sonic as an add-on or a tactical marketing “gag” with little to no return on investment or equity building, brands will need to start focusing on creating more holistic, integrated, and adaptive sonic branding strategies. 

Sonic branding will increasingly integrate with other sensory elements to create holistic and immersive brand experiences. Brands should explore the synergy between music, sound design, visuals, scents, and even haptic feedback to create multisensory experiences that leave a lasting impression on consumers. They should also keep an eye on emerging audio technologies, such as spatial audio, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). These technologies have the potential to revolutionize sonic branding by providing immersive and interactive audio experiences.

What are the steps you can take today to prepare for this sonic revolution? Brands need to secure a sonic partner. Not an ad agency that will seduce the brand to license an incredibly expensive song for one campaign. Not your local music studio that will send you thousands of different (and random) sonic logo ideas. Our clients value us here at amp because of our full-service offering. We are there from the initial educational moments, all the way to the creation and decision-making phase, and ultimately the implementation stage. We guide and assist our clients at all steps of the process, that’s what makes amp so successful.

Keep up with amp on LinkedIn and read more interviews with industry experts here

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