How digital is increasing the value and need for memorable brand tunes & moments

There are various ways in which brands create a distinct identity and recall in consumers’ minds beyond the visual element. Creating a sensory experience around the brand leads to a greater and prolonged connect. Adopting a sonic identity or leaving auditory cues has been a tried and tested way by brands to give themselves instant recall value.

Every brand tries to create some unique tune which goes well with its identity and is used in every communication of the brand. This spans across categories – FMCG, consumer durables, telecom and many more. Over the years, we have heard quite a few memorable jingles or signature sounds/ music that help us instantly recall the brand being advertised even when we cannot see the brand itself. Be it the “Washing powder Nirma” jingle, or the signature Britannia ‘Ting ting ting” sound – these have been strongly embedded in our memories. Titan has used various musical instruments for its signature tune, including jal tarang and violin. After various digressions, Liril reverted to the sprightly ‘La la la’ tune and girl in a waterfall imagery of the 1980s ad.

Once the signature tune catches on, it assumes an independent identity of its own, further strengthening the brand connect. A lot of thought and efforts go into choosing the right tune to achieve a sonic identity that is durable and catchy between the client, the creative agency team and the music composer. It is a process very similar to brainstorming on a brand name or designing a logo or identity for a brand which is from a long-term viewpoint.

Over more than a decade ago, since the telecom boom started most service providers ensured that they created a catchy ring tone or brand tune to beat the crowded market. Be it Airtel, Vodafone and Idea (now Vi), Aircel and Reliance – all have endeavoured to creative distinctive sonic identities in a fiercely competitive market.

Advantages of creating signature tune

While signature tunes play a very significant role in enhancing the brand or product, it will work well only when it blends well with the overall communication that brands want to convey to the audience about the product. Hence, one should not purely focus on this and see how it can be woven into the product. Once the tune becomes popular, all brands need to do is retain the key elements of the tune to make it as a brand property. Take for example Titan’s signature tune, which is based on Mozart’s Symphony No. 25. Initially, this tune was used for all their advertisements, but as the brand progressed and brand extensions were launched, the tune has been contemporised to fit into the new line of products that the company periodically launches. The brand today is over 30 years old, but the core tune and the essence of the tune stays intact. Finally, the most memorable tune helps your brand to beat the clutter and infuse some differentiation. Also, most companies keep in mind to create the tune and keep the words very simple so that in a country like India it is able to handle the cultural diversity and reach the breadth and length of the country.

Memorable tunes become brand property

Some of the tunes that many brands have are so popular are createdand composed many decades back. Today you just play the tune and the brand connect happens instantly with the consumer. Titan watches, Lifebuoy, Britannia and Boroline tunes are some of them which have been there for quite some time. All thesebrands have very cleverly used their tunes and made it more contemporary by still keeping the core essence of the tune. Today the tunes of these brands have become a key property of the brand. Even without the support of any  visuals the consumer is able to connect with the brand. More and more brands try and get an everlasting tune for their brand. But very few of them are patient to keep this as a long-term property for the brand. Nirma washing powder is another brand which is still using their tune for years and in fact scared surf and wheel by arresting their growth three decades back when they took the market by storm. Great tune is what provides that extra embellishment to any jingle or song. Hence one needs to really sweat and work hard to crack the tune to express it creatively and ensure that it is memorable. There is lot of hard work both from the creative team and the music director who need understand the rationale and emotional values of the brand.

Expert Speak

Commenting on how tunes and jingles embellish a brand, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, 82.5 Communications, said, “Brands often have a clearly defined visual identity that its owners guard ferociously. However, when it comes to its sonic identity, they are not always as definitive. Yet human beings respond instinctively to music – so, it is a great tool for brands to employ to get past rational defences to connect deeply with consumers. Music and sound can help express the personality of a brand just as well as its visual elements. Nirma is one such brand that stuck to its melody for decades, not just for the sign-off but for the entire jingle that provided the bed to every ad. Another classic is AR Rahman’s tune for Airtel, which continues to be used as a sign-off even now.”

Chattopadhyay further remarked that while composing the tune music directors play a major role in creating a sonic identity for a brand. An elaborate briefing explaining the essence of brand is what helps the music director to assimilate everything on the product along with his creativity to come out with a memorable tune.

According to Nitin Karkare, CEO, FCB Ulka, “Nobody creates unmemorable tunes, everyone desires to create something iconic and memorable. For me, the difference between the two is talent working on the project and a very important point about making something memorable is consistency. To become a part of consumers sightseeing it has to be consistently supported by the client. A brand or jingle that comes to my mind quickly is Amul’s ‘Amul doodh peeta hai India’, which was created by us, which is very powerful and memorable. The ‘Taste of India’ jingle has been created by us that is now running and being aired for the last 25 years.”

Pallavi Chakravarti, Executive Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu, noted, ‘Signature tunes or mogos, as we now know them, have been around forever. But in my opinion, they only become brand assets if people hear them often enough and over a considerable period of time. You cannot make a ‘signature’ over the course of a single campaign, or even two. It needs a sustained push to become an earworm and strengthen associations with the brand. I find that in recent times, given the ever-changing nature of the market, this kind of commitment is rare. But when it is done right, you get a Titan or a Britannia, which is a wonderful thing. In my experience, the brief for this sort of thing is also far more open-ended because the output represents the aural essence of the brand and not just one or two campaigns.”

“Most importantly, the music director naturally plays a crucial role in interpreting the brief into a 2-3 second audio motif. In this era of short campaign bursts and shorter attention spans, I think there is still merit in signature tunes for brands that want to build something lasting,” she added.

For Niraj Ruparel, Head of Mobile & Emerging Tech, GroupM India; Head of Voice, WPP India, the process of composing a brand tune is similar to a brainstorming session, where the music director will ask the brand manager the relevant brand questions. Like the values the brand presents, the emotion the brands want to use with their audience which will then help him to construct the outline. He further said, “Memorable tunes are here to stay even in the digital era. Music affects pop culture; it affects our daily lives and our emotions. There is a perpetual need for music and we believe the new era of digital increases the value and need for memorable tracks and moments.”


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