How Mastercard Created A ‘Sonic Identity’ For Smart Speakers

How Mastercard Created A ‘Sonic Identity’ For Smart Speakers

With almost half of global smartphone users now using voice-enabled tech at least once a month and sales of smart speakers grew 300 per cent in 2017, marketers have been grappling with how to integrate their brand into the new audio platform.

For Mastercard, their audio journey started two years ago when it started working on its simplified (and recently unveiled) text-free logo. 

Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar told an audience at SXSW that after the unveiling of its visual identity, the brand knew it needed to identify how it should sound on the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Home. 

“Advertising will play a very different role in the future,” Rajamannar said, adding that in the new audio frontier, marketers have no ‘visual estate’ to play with, marketers have to start at a new dance and it’s a completely different ball game.” 

To create what Rajamannar refers to as a “sonic identity”, Mastercard explored 2000 different sounds that would represent the brand whether that is in advertising, sponsorship or when customers make a transaction.

It is comprised of a distinct melody that is about 30-seconds long that can be adapted to work across genres and cultures, ensuring it is relevant both locally and to the situation where it is used, while maintaining Mastercard’s brand voice globally.

The sound identity also includes a ‘mogo’ – a musical logo – that lasts for three seconds and will be used in situations such as point-of-sale, both online and in-store.

Rajamannar admitted his agency became “incredibly frustrated” with him after his initial brief that said Mastercard needed a visual identity that was identifiable, subtle, versatile but also diverse.

Investing a significant chunk of his marketing budget, Rajamannar said he was able to bring brand and music experts together to work on the sonic identity, which he believes will differentiate Mastercard from its competitors in the future.

The process of rolling out the sound identity hasn’t happened over night. It was first launched in the US through a collaboration with singer Camila Cabello and is slowly being rolled out to other markets.

Rajamannar expects the sonic identity to take three years to be identifiable globally in a similar way to that of its visual logo.

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