A. Technical terms audio branding

Brand versus corporate

The term ‘corporate’ refers to the company as a whole, while ‘brand’ refers to an individual
brand. Thus, the design guidelines of the company Daimler are listed in the corporate design
manual, whereas the company owned car brand Mercedes-Benz has its own brand design.
The same applies to ‘corporate sound’ and ‘brand sound’ (q.v.). Brands which refer to a company
as a whole – e.g. Lufthansa – are also called corporate brand (corporate sound).

Acoustic brand management

Management process of acoustic brand communication. Main objectives include circularisation, differentiation and identification of the brand.

Audio Branding (sound branding, sonic branding, acoustic branding)

Process of brand development and brand management by use of auditory elements (audio branding elements) within the framework of brand communication.

Brand sound, corporate sound

Acoustic dimension of brand design (corporate design). Reflects the acoustic identity of a brand (company) and becomes audible as audio logo, brand song, brand voice etc.

Brand sound identity, corporate sound identity

Form the basis for acoustic brand appearance (corporate appearance) and input of acoustic branding elements. These are expressed in the brand sound (corporate sound) and are the
acoustic identity of a brand (company).

Central acoustic idea

Creative idea, deduced from brand identity, for the acoustic design of a brand, analogue to
the visual design idea of a brand design (corporate design).

Commercial song

Used as spot background and background music and – as opposed to brand song (q.v.) – is
employed only temporarily or just once in an advertising campaign.

Sound style guide (acoustic design manual, brand sound guidelines)

Set of rules for all brand sound elements (corporate sound elements) and guideline for their

Key elements of audio branding

Audio logo

(sound logo, sonic logo, acoustic logo, signature theme, jingle, acoustic signature)
The audio logo is a brand’s acoustic identification element and is often used in combination
with the (animated) visual logo. Must be concise, distinct, catchy and flexible and fit the
brand (brand fit). Special form jingle: Is in effect the musical version of the advertising slogan
(”Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso / Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy
world of Haribo”, ”Mars macht mobil bei Arbeit Sport und Spiel / Mars makes you mobile,
at work, sports and play”) and acoustically conveys the advertising message.

Brand song (corporate song)

Piece of music following classic song pattern with verse, chorus etc. Composition or selection
is based on acoustic brand identity. In contrast to commercial song (q.v.), it is used over
a longer period of time and may vary or be situationally adapted.

Brand voice (corporate voice)

Vocal element of brand communication represents the brand personality and is often part
of an audio logo.

Sound objects

Sound icon

Sound icons are the smallest or shortest sound elements of audio branding. Characteristically
similar, they directly point to the brand performance. In man-machine communication at
auditory user interfaces also referred to as auditory icons.

Sound symbol

Sound symbols are abstract sound objects that – unlike sound icons – do not resemble the
item they are referring to. At auditory user interfaces they are called earcons.

B. Technical terms sound


Harmony of at least three notes. These can also sound successively as a broken chord.


Originally, the science of physical sound processes as wave phenomena in solids, liquids and
gases based on mechanic molecular vibrations. Today, acoustics also include the science ofsound perception (i.e. psychoacoustics) and sound effects (e.g. physiological changes in the
ear resulting from high sound intensity).


Combination of auditory and visual information. Related to hearing and sight.


Of or related to the process of hearing.


Impulsive perception of a sound without clearly definable pitch. As opposed to sound, noise
is based on a non-periodic or pulsed sound process.


Basis of sound is a periodic sound signal. A sound consists of a key tone and an overtone
spectrum (harmonic) comprising multiples of the fundamental frequency. Frequency of the
key tone determines the perceived pitch, while number and characteristic of overtones (amplitude)
determine the timbre.


The perceived timbre is defined by number and amplitude of overtones, i.e. form of the overtone
spectrum. The characteristic sound spectra of the musical instruments result in the
characteristic timbre. On the basis of the timbre of a language, vowels can be distinguished
and speakers identified. Additionally, timbre has strong emotional significance.


According to the current use of language, music is defined as any form of sound expression in
the broadest sense. Classifications of music, defined according to purpose (film score, dance
music), performance (concert music, family music), cast (guitar music, vocal music) or composition
method and technique (twelve-tone technique, electronic music) demonstrate the
different characteristics of music, yet do not refer to a superior theoretical system. Equally
unfeasible is a differentiation between art music and popular music (fundamentally altered
concept of aesthetics of music in the 20th century).

Music genre

Defines different styles of music according to origin, characteristics, instrumentation and
distribution (e.g. classical music, electronic music, rock, pop etc.).


Vertically arranged set of all individual parts and voices of a composition allowing the conductor
to oversee the entire musical event simultaneously. Scores are also used to store
music in a reproducible form.


Includes search for quantitative and generalizable relationships between physical sound
impulse (sound event) and sound perception (hearing event), developed as a branch of psychophysics.
Physical sound events can cause perception of hearing events which manifest
as noise or sound objects.


Organising and formal principle of the chronological process in music, dance and composition.


The term was introduced by the Canadian composer Murray Schafer in analogy to landscape.
A soundscape has a rather diffuse background with meaningful foreground elements (sound
marks in analogy to land marks). Every auditory environment can be considered a soundscape.
The compositional design includes spatial differentiation according to fore- and background
as well as the deliberate setting of meaningful elements for the listener’s orientation.

Major mode

Definition of a mode encompassing all keys whose scales include 5 whole steps and 2 half
steps, namely from the 3rd to the 4th and from the 7th to the 8th step. The major triad consists
of key tone, major third and perfect fifth.

Minor mode

The ”soft” mode, whose triad is formed by minor triad and perfect fifth (e.g. C – E-flat – G).
In the 16th century, the current minor mode developed from the Aeolian, Doric and Phrygian
church scales.

C. Technical terms branding


Originally, branding referred to the property marking of livestock. Today, the term describes
all activities involved in the development of a brand with the aim to set one’s own product
apart from the bulk of similar ones and to enable distinct association with a specific brand.

Corporate brand

Brand that refers to the company as a whole and which – unlike the product brand which is
primarily focused on the customer – is aimed at all contact groups of the company.

Corporate design (CD)

Creative transformation of corporate identity stressing the multisensory unity of a company’s

Corporate identity (CI)

Intrinsic self-concept of a company, clearly distinguishable from competitors (complete external
and internal profile of a company) and – based on existing company culture – expressed
in appearance (corporate design), communication channels (corporate communication) and
attitude of all members of staff (corporate behaviour).


Comprises one or several of the following brand elements: name, concept, emblem, symbol
and/or design. A brand (formerly: trademark) aims to identify the performance of one or
several suppliers and to distinguish it from competitors’ offers.

Brand elements (brand components)

Design parameters employed in the marking of a performance include visual, acoustic, olfactory,
haptic and gustatory signals.

Brand identity

All characteristics of a brand which permanently distinguish it from other brands.

Brand image

Perception of a brand represented in the brain as brand associations.

Brand equity/brand value

Value of a brand ”in the consumers’ mind” compared to an non-brand, yet objectively similar
item. In financial terms, brand equity/brand value refers to the cash value of future payment
surplus generated by the brand. In terms of behavioural theory, it refers to the result of different
consumer reactions to marketing methods of a brand versus a fictional brand evoked
by specific concepts of the brand which are stored in the brain.