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Jingles: The Original Sonic Branding

two young women sitting on a television with NTSC color bars overlay on the entire image

Love them or hate them, you can’t forget a catchy jingle. Commercial jingles are purposefully designed to get your attention, and they have served as a huge building block for the sonic branding industry. Here we discuss where they came from, how they helped launch sonic branding, and we showcase some of the top jingles of all time.

Where did jingles come from?

In a previous article about sonic logos we mentioned the importance of commercial jingles in the development of sonic branding. Radio gave us an initial glimpse into the power of audio marketing, and you could argue that the jingles era — beginning around the 1930’s — was the pivotal moment where sonic branding wormed its way into our ears, minds, and if you’re nostalgic, our hearts.

These catchy tunes were used most often in radio and television advertising before internet, social media, and streaming apps created the need for more widespread branding efforts. The aim was simple: make your product memorable in order to influence consumer decision making.

The ability of companies to reach audiences more often, and more intimately, has increased the need for brands to demonstrate their personality and values, in addition to their products and services. This is where sonic branding comes in. Like an audible style guide for your company, sonic branding ensures that the sound of your brand (e.g. style, tonality, instrumentation, rhythm, etc.) is consistently represented across all touchpoints, so that audiences associate a feeling with your content.

Is sonic branding the same as jingles?

Jingles are a subset of sonic branding, albeit one that is becoming more and more limited as audiences grow more sophisticated. Jingles utilize a simple methodology — create a musical hook, repeat it over and over, and people can’t help but remember it, for better or worse. They are designed to capture attention, directly incorporating a company’s name, product, tag line, and/or contact information in a musical way. The goal is to elicit a purchase decision.

Sonic branding on the other hand is designed around emotion, with the goal of creating a relationship with consumers. Its about creating music that represents a company’s values and replicating this audibly across mediums to influence how audiences feel. It’s the repetition of this feeling that creates an association with a brand.

Examples of sonic branding include logos (e.g. Netflix ‘Tudum’; Farmers Insurance ‘We are Farmers’; Gearbox Software), identification tracks (e.g. Monday Night Football; PGA The Masters; CNN News Central), product sonification (e.g. Apple startup/apps; Samsung appliances; PerkinElmer lab equipment), as well as music for content, podcasts, advertising, and so much more. Branded audio can be the same piece of music used across channels, but is more often than not, different pieces of music all representing the same feeling.

Top commercial jingles of all time

When you stop to think about it, there are thousands of memorable jingles out there. Here are some of our favorites. Fair warning, reading further will assuredly result in humming commercial tunes for the rest of the day.

Oscar Mayer “Oscar Mayer Wiener”

Alka-Seltzer “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz”

Kit-Kat Bar “Give Me a Break”

Toys ‘R Us “I Don’t Want to Grow Up”

Juicy Fruit “The Taste Is Gonna Move Ya”

US Army “Be All That You Can Be”

Chili’s “I Want My Baby Back Ribs”

Honorable mention: Tommy Tutone “867-5309 / Jenny”

We just had to throw this in. Although it’s not for a brand, this song ensured that if you owned the number, 867-5309, in any area code, you would receive prank calls for all of eternity asking for Jenny.

For even more great jingles, check out Forbes’ Best-Ever Advertising Jingles as well as The Drum’s Top 10 US Ad Jingles of All Time.

About Stephen Arnold Music

Often referred to as the most-heard, least-known composers in the world, Stephen Arnold Music’s creativity is experienced every day in more than 500 million homes worldwide. Based in Dallas, Texas, The World Leader In Sonic Branding® has 30 years of success delivering impactful, brand-defining music that makes a difference for today’s top content creators, networks, cable channels, television stations, digital media outlets, experiential, film, production companies, corporations and advertising agencies. With multiple Emmys®, Promax Gold, ADDY and MUSE awards to their credit, Stephen Arnold Music’s specialized approach and commitment to the power of sonic branding, research, state-of-the-art production and unparalleled customer service is at the core of its promise. Stephen Arnold Music continues to set the creative bar in a highly competitive content landscape. Learn more.


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