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TheStreet Open House

Sonic Logos Now a 'Sound' Business Practice

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce cheese ..."

"Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is ..."

"I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner ..."

No matter how many custom ringtones and MP3 files we cram onto our hand-helds, one sound still persists as the definitive cell phone ring -- the Nokia tone.

Music is a memory trigger, something companies have understood for years, pumping out catchy jingle after jingle to extol the virtues of their products. No less a song master than Barry Manilow has composed dozens of stuck-in-your head ads for McDonald's (MCD - Get Report), State Farm, KFC (YUM - Get Report), Dr Pepper (DPS - Get Report) and Band-Aid.

Now corporate America is vying for your ears in a new way.

Audio branding, also called sonic branding, is an increasingly popular marketing and branding tool that uses carefully crafted sounds, songs and effects to add to company aesthetics and mnemonics. It goes far beyond the old-school approach of merely plinking out an ode to snack cakes on a piano.

"Audio logos" are hardly new. Certain sounds immediately make you think of a particular company or product: Intel's (INTC - Get Report) dinging bongs, Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) start-up chime, the ever-present Nokia (NOK - Get Report) ringtone. The modern twist is the full and intentional strategy that goes into these creating sonic backdrops.

Audrey Arbeeny is owner and executive producer of Audiobrain, a New York company specializing in sonic branding. It has worked with McDonald's, won an Emmy for its music supervision for NBC's Beijing Olympics broadcast and created the start-up sound for Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) Xbox 360.

For Arbeeny, sonic branding is all about "bringing consistency of experience and authenticity to the voice of the brand."

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