Sonic branding goes back decades. Think of McDonald's five-note "Ba da ba ba ba" aural signature, developed by music house Mona Davis Music way back in 2003. Or Intel's four-note C-F-C-G sonic sound-off.
Mastercard is the latest brand to embrace sonic branding, announcing this week that it's developed a "distinct and memorable melody" that will be embedded in all Mastercard branding everywhere people encounter it—from commercials to physical, digital and voice environments.
Below is what it sounds like—a version that the company calls the "master soundscape."
"Sound adds a powerful new dimension to our brand identity and a critical component to how people recognize Mastercard today and in the future," Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard's chief marketing and communications officer, said in a statement. "We set out an ambitious goal to produce the Mastercard melody in a way that's distinct and authentic, yet adaptable globally and across genres. It is important that our sonic brand not only reinforces our presence, but also resonates seamlessly around the world."
Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park helped develop the melody. My challenge was finding creative ways to ... feel simultaneously modern and human," he says in the video below. "One of the things that I liked about the notes is that when I started to play them using different instruments, all of a sudden they jumped to other cultures."
As part of the rollout, Mastercard released a slew of videos showing how the melody could sound in different apps, in different musical styles and in different parts of the world. Check out some of those versions below.
Places Around the World
Mastercard says audio branding is a particularly pressing issue for financial brands, as voice shopping will hit $40 billion by 2022.
"Audio makes people feel things, and that's what makes it such a powerful medium for brands," said Matt Lieber, co-founder and president of Gimlet. "With the explosion of podcasts, music streaming and smart speakers, an audio strategy is no longer a 'nice-to-have' for brands—it's a necessity. A sonic identity—the audio calling card for a brand—is now just as important as a brand's visual identity."
It's no accident that the sonic branding was launched around the time of the Grammys. Mastercard's Grammys activity included a new commercial and partnership with Camila Cabello (see below), as well as an experiential retail event at Fred Segal Sunset.