There are a number of sonic logos that tend to be heavy on timbre but light on melody. It’s great to have unique and engaging sounds, but they don’t always stick with the public on an emotional level. We talked about this a while back with Netflix as an example. Compelling sounds are great, but they’re not always enough.

I often explain auditory concepts using visual analogies. There are so many parallels between the two, especially with process. At the same time, they are two different modes with their own distinctive traits and strengths, and sometimes we do have to let them develop independently. For example, in the visual branding world, everything gets streamlined and simplified. We see all kinds of logos that get pared. They drop the ornaments and the colours. This minimalist approach doesn’t always work with sound. More and more we’re getting sonic logos that are very similar.

Simplicity is great, but I think we can see where melody may have given these logos a little more depth and distinction. And it’s not like these are novice brands. Why Disney didn’t incorporate some hint of When You Wish Upon a Star is anyone’s guess. And of course Nintendo has decades of distinct sonic assets at its disposal.

A funny thing happened in 2022. Video rivals YouTube and TikTok each developed animated sonic logos. I’m not suggesting that one deliberately copied the other, but their results were very similar.

Deep bass hit followed by a very short melody. It’s not quite that simple of course. There are more layers to it than that, but I think we can see how they would have been made more distinctive by a more involved melody. And the data would support such an approach. According to Adsonica, singable and Melodic logos score 24% higher in recall, while SoundOut found that longer audio logos are actually more effective than shorter ones.

Now let’s look at melody-first.

Even the strongest melody is made better by the right instrumentation. In fact many people have a hard time recognizing a popular melody without its primary timbre. For example, see how quickly you can name this one.

Not sure? How about like this?

Recognize it now? Oh bay-buh bay-buh

The point is that if you can do both, if you can combine the right sound with a memorable melody, then you’ve really got something. As an example, let’s bring out a classic sonic logo.

Not only is the melody memorable and singable (in-TEL-in-SIDE), but the instrumentation is a lot more elaborate than you might think. It’s made up of twenty layers of sound including xylophones, marimba, and synthesizers.

Of course it is possible, and often beneficial to change timbres. One of the greatest advantages of a good sonic identity is its adaptability. But this is only possible when you have a really strong melody, and many years of consistent branding behind you. We covered this a while back when we talked about branding power moves.