If sound is half the picture, it can also be just as iconic. Consider the fizz in a Coca-Cola commercial. The actual sound isn’t much more than a quick hiss in real life, but when it’s amplified alongside a close-up of carbonated bubbles it transcends fact and physics. Then, that perfectly manicured sound becomes the sound heard at home when you crack open a can for yourself. The hyperreal replaces reality — making the soda sound delicious.
It isn’t difficult to wield sound when it comes to the most famous product in the world. But here are some of the sonic ingredients that brands, big or small, can use to cut through the noise of the marketplace.
Music places a viewer in the headspace needed to accept a message. It has the power to manipulate the emotional response you’re seeking. While it should be rare to go full “… in the arrrms of an angel” on your audience, you can use music to tug at heartstrings, like Dove, or trigger a rush of adrenaline, like Nike.
Sound effects can elevate the little things, like that aforementioned fizz, or blend in to establish a sense of reality. The sound of a door shutting isn’t too terribly exciting. But without touches like that, the footage will feel uncanny, even eerie, because the brain knows what’s supposed to happen when doors shut. Music and sound effects should really receive the same attention everything else gets in an ad.
They say silence is golden — and it is indeed valuable in advertising. Silence can act as a sound itself, and when deployed with purpose, the result is a jolt that adds gravity to what happened before or commands attention to what’s coming next. This tactic can be especially effective in today’s media environment, with so many loud noises and shiny objects.
Studies show that ads with jingles are recalled 10 times faster than ones with spoken words or background music. That’s because the area of the brain that’s vital in early childhood speech development also allows jingles to become so memorable. To maximize the effect, jingles should be as easy to remember as nursery rhymes and create positive emotional appeal. Do this and soon you’ll be buying the world a Coke, or at least one for yourself.