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Michaela Jefferson 

Mastercard, Shell and Apple named 2020's best audio brands

Mastercard, Shell and Apple named 2020's best audio brands

Sonic branding agency amp has seen Mastercard top its annual audio brand rankings in 2020, while last year's winner, McDonalds, has been knocked out of the top five.

Shell, Apple, Google and Amazon follow Mastercard as the next best performing audio brands, with Shell the only brand from 2019's rankings to maintain its position. McDonalds, Disney, Intel and Coca-Cola have all been relegated.

According to amp's 'Best Audio Brands Ranking 2020' - which is built on Interbrand's 'Best Global Brands Index' and quantifies audio brand performance against a range of criteria - Mastercard and Shell found themselves in the top for creating and deploying a "holistic sonic identity" which is consistent across all touchpoints.

Mastercard launched its sonic identity early last year, including a "transaction sound" which plays across mediums and platforms when users check out, and its own soundtrack, developed by musicians including Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda.

“Best Audio Brands 2020 clearly shows that brands that have embraced a holistic sonic identity are indisputably reaping the benefits that come with one," said Michele Arnese, global CEO at amp.

"It is great to see how quickly Mastercard has embraced a holistic sonic identity and managed to implement it across a variety of touch points, making it a central element of their multi-sensory marketing strategy. Based on a Sonic DNA, this approach offers the best balance between creative flexibility and recognition, compared to a mere one-melody or jingle-based approach.”

Elsewhere, Apple, Google and Amazon were applauded for the strength of their product sounds and their use of brand voice and voice technologies.

Brands which scored poorly on return on audio investment saw their rankings fall. According to amp, these brands tended to focus on a single sound asset, such as a sonic logo or jingle, and typically only used it across broadcast media channels.

The study also noted a steep decline in the use of sonic logos overall in 2020, with many brands which have had sonic logos for decades now using them less consistently. McDonald’s has decreased usage of its "I'm Loving It' jingle from 95% to 44% in the past year.

Amp's creative strategist and team lead, Bjorn Thorliefsson, said a single sonic asset is no longer sufficient to develop brand equity as consumer touchpoints evolve.

"We might see brands with a strong sonic logo heritage, such as Intel or McDonald’s embrace a new holistic sonic strategy moving forward," he said, adding that voice will also become increasingly important over the coming year.

"As the proliferation of smart speakers and other screenless smart devices continues to grow and audible content such as podcasts is on the rise, consumer relationships with brands are increasingly shaped by sonic experiences.

"Apple, Google and Amazon’s high positions propose that voice contributes to connect a consumer with a brand because it creates intimacy and engagement."

Between 6 - 17 April Mediatel is hosting The Future of Audio - a free digital event to experience during lockdown. Click here for the full agenda, which includes live-streams, presentations and audio-themed editorial.

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