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Global brands investing more in how they sound

  • Written by Amp

Best Audio Brands 2021 shows growing competitor advantage for brands investing in sound 

Mastercard retains top spot with best-in-class sonic strategy 

New research by the world’s leading sonic branding agency amp, shows global companies investing in audio branding and bespoke musical assets are creating a demonstrable competitive advantage in their ability to communicate with consumers, in a year that has seen media consumption and interaction rapidly increase across digital and mobile platforms. 

Amp’s third annual index of the world’s Best Audio Brands (BAB) shows evidence that companies investing in developing high quality and owned audio assets - such as sonic logos and music specially created for their brands - have gained significant ground on their rivals. This is creating a stark ‘audio advantage’ gap, whereby many brands are struggling to cut through the noise, especially those without any recognizable audio identity. 

For the second year in a row, Mastercard leads the ranking, due to the brands growing use of its unique holistic and DNA-based sonic identity. Consistently expanding the use of sound across all its global digital platforms and further growing its audible footprint at physical and digital retail services, Mastercard ranked highly across all key criteria measured in BAB. 

Global brands creating an audio advantage 

Overall, the top 25 brands scored highly against the five key criteria which amp uses to measure audio investment performance: customer recognition, customer trust, customer experience, customer engagement and customer belonging.  

As a result, the top 25 brands in the index have opened up a clear lead over others. Many are now well placed to develop increasingly sophisticated use of audio assets, especially across digital and mobile channels, as consumers continue to favour these for brand engagement. 

Many brands that dropped in this year’s ranking increased their usage of generic stock music. Google dropped 16 places and Amazon (scored as the overall brand including Alexa) dropped 12 places for this reason. They are losing important brand recognition in cluttered although fast-engaging digital channels and don’t build any brand equity in the audio space. 


Michele Arnese, Global CEO, amp commented: “Making a brand heard is more important than ever before. The past 18 months have accelerated the importance of sound and voice as vital elements of the brand identity and customer experience toolbox. Meaningful and purposeful brand communication takes advantage from a ownable and authentic sound ecosystem. With strong growth in app-based and contactless digital interactions and streamed audible content, marketers have shifted spending to boost digital storytelling that can be heard (and recognized). We’d like to congratulate this year’s leaders and highlight the opportunity for brands that are yet to truly invest in finding their voice. 


Björn Thorleifsson, Head of Strategy & Research, amp added: “This year has shown that those who were already embarking on their sonic branding journeys have increased their lead on trailing rivals - now clearly falling behind. Given the evolving ability of sound to reach consumers whatever the device or channel they’re on, we expect to see increased investment from brands looking to stand out amongst the online noise. There are already best practice examples from leaders, such as Mastercard, and we’d encourage those who want to improve brand recognition and even performance, to adopt a little less conversation on sonic branding, and a little more action.” 


Key Best Audio Brands Facts 2021 


This year saw five new brands jump into the top 10 (Audi, Mercedes, Netflix, Hyundai and Siemens) and the highest climbing sector was beverages with automotive not far behind. Since BAB’s inception, 12 brands on the BAB ranking have invested in personalised audio assets, a figure expected to grow in the near future.  


The highest climbing brands were a trinity of financial services: HSBC, American Express and J.P. Morgan. This was owing to an increase in customised audio, and for HSBC the full roll-out of its sonic identity, created in 2019. Colgate, Goldman Sachs, and Danone saw the biggest drop in the rankings, owing predominately to an increased reliance on stock music across digital channels. 


About Best Audio Brands 


Introduced in 2019, the Best Audio Brands Ranking is a first of its kind study, measuring how effective brands are in using sound. Initially building on Interbrand’s highly respected “Best Global Brands Index”, the ranking is designed to identify strong and weak audio performers, highlight strategic opportunities for brands to grow, and provide actionable solutions to boost the value and ROI from audio assets. Starting with 2021, amp has set new criteria for the BAB brand list, focusing more on the use of sound and thus including brands beyond the Interbrand’s index. 

Best Audio Brands relies on a rigorous methodology to quantify brand’s audio performance against criteria including trust, recognition, efficiency, and engagement. It highlights brands that are extending their sonic presence far beyond a single ‘jingle’ to adapt to a highly evolved digital landscape where audio can provide an additional point of differentiation against competitors, build trust, and foster loyalty from customers.   


About amp  


amp is the world’s leading, full-service agency for sonic branding. 

With its award-winning Sonic DNA ® approach, the agency sets the new standard 

for making brands heard globally. United by a passion for music, sound and technology, 

amp’s multi-cultural and multifaceted team collaborates with some of the world’s most influential brands to create meaningful and authentic, audible customer experiences that build measurable 

brand equity and trust.  


With offices in United States, Asia and Europe amp clients include Mastercard, Mercedes-Benz, Deloitte, ShareNow, UniCredit Group, BBVA, Geberit, Vodafone, Porsche, Triumph and BMW.
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