Apple recently announced that they’ve officially trademarked their start-up chime. In doing so, the technology giant have joined a small band of branding pioneers. They’re in good company too, joining an exclusive group of sonic trademarkers including Harley Davidson, who trademarked the roar of their engine, and 20th Century Fox with their famous fanfare. These companies have recognised that sound can be a valuable brand asset and should be protected.
Apple’s distinctive digital chime, recorded by Jim Reekes, has been synonymous with Apple Macs since the early 90s and has amazingly remained unchanged since 1997. It has since become one of the most recognisable brand sounds on the planet, a statement highlighted when Pixar appropriated it for their loveable robot Wall-E. This makes it rather a valuable brand asset. And now, after years of neglect from the powers that be at Apple, it has been recognised as such.
The news coincided with the 2012 Audio Branding Congress and is relevant to one of the most pertinent questions that was raised : the question of ROI. When we implement a sound strategy and all of the beautifully relevant sounds that follow, how can we prove that it makes a difference to the brand’s bottom line?
Apple’s success isn’t going to provide anyone with the metrics to answer this question but it is valuable affirmation that sound is worth something to a brand. The longevity of the usage and the strength of the brand association is also a powerful indication that this value is often realised, exponentially increased and even a degree of relevance gained, through consistency.
There are plenty more iconic brand sounds that could follow suit and with every one that does, the value of branded sound should be taken increasingly more seriously. So the question now is, who will be next?