Something that crossed my mind the other day is how I'm able to recognize who is walking through the house simply by how they sound. Not by way of their voice (that's just a dead giveaway,) but by all the other sounds they make: how loud the creaks are from the floorboards dealt by the weight of their step, how quickly they move, how long their pauses are, the sounds of the objects they typically touch and the frequency of those sounds. When I've been in an environment long enough, without realizing it, I begin to associate the characteristics of a pattern of sounds that someone typically makes and associate it with what I might call their sonic (or aural, or audible) identity!

Now let me take a moment to "Google" it (on DuckDuckGo) to see if this is a thing! *insert gentle typing noises here* So it turns out that 'sonic identity' isn't something I just made up! Apparently, sonic identity is a term used in branding! According to sonic identity, or sonic branding, "is the use of sound and audio that helps reinforce [...] brand identity on a different dimension by creating an instant association . . ."

"There are also strong emotional responses to sound, allowing us to connect on a more personal level. A distinct sound enhances recall subconsciously and strengthen our brand affinity..."

How interesting! There are so many sounds I hear that remind me of a specific location or brand, sounds I associate with 7-Eleven, Nokia, Windows, Apple, Minecraft, McDonalds, and Home Depot, just to name a few!

This author writes, "There are two types of sound branding – one is the main tune associated with the brand’s logo and for the brand’s prima facie purposes; the second is the sound/ music associated with a particular product portfolio or campaign, which will eventually cease once goals are achieved. The second type of sound branding acts as a catalyst for the campaign and business growth, whereas the first type of sound branding is designed for depicting the brand’s aura and character."

This me to wonder about our personal sonic identities and how we can grow more aware of them. I had a friend who I regularly ran into at the coffee shop in the town over, where I would go to browse the Internet and work on personal projects on my laptop. I could frequently tell when he was there because of the unique sound of his laugh, and genuinely made me happy! I was also able to recognize other particular regulars without seeing them by: the length/speed/heaviness of their steps, the jingle-jangles (i.e. keys and other things) attached to their backpack or pants, the objects they frequently used (speed, sound of typing, a particular game,) the instruments they played at open mic night, or, if I were outside, the sound of their vehicle!

Can I grow my self-awareness about my own personal sonic identity? How can I adjust my sonic identity, or even tailor it to make it more pleasing? Should I start recording myself walking through different places to try to get a sense of how I sound? I even wonder if I can come up with some small, original sounds to add to my website in the future, to shape a nice experience for visitors. Just some thoughts :)

- Onio

1 Comment - Want to comment on this thought? Feel free to respond here!

arlita says:

"my husband definitely experiences this! the funniest part about it is he still has this ability even after years of being moved out of his parents home. he grew up with several siblings and knows all of their footfall sounds, despite all of them being grown up now!"