Logos and visual identities have long been essential elements in the branding strategy of companies with vision. Carefully designed visuals are able to tell the brand story, encompassing corporate core values and goals, drive trust and shift consumer behaviors.
Many visual brand identities have become part of the history of the brand and earned their own life, such as daily necessities and familiar products that become a part of everyday life.
However, beyond visuals, in recent years, many big brands in the world have chosen a fresh approach to branding that infuses brand emotions in a bold, deep and uninterrupted manner - through the medium of sound. Brand melodies open a new spectrum of feelings and experiences through carefully developed audio, sophisticatedly touching hearts and connecting with the soul.
Localizing a global sonic identity
In order to become the world’s most recognizable payment company, Mastercard went the extra mile to define its sonic identity in an inclusive, digital economy and bring the safety and security of its cardholders into their ears and minds.
In 2019, the company set a new tempo for brand expression by debuting its sonic brand identity, a comprehensive sound architecture that signified the latest advancement for the brand.
Mastercard's sonic brand presence was created with five principles in mind: to be relatable and inclusive, to be passionate, to be surprising, to be delightful, and to be captivating, which epitomize the attributes of the Mastercard brand. Mastercard’s sound has been incorporated as the sound of payment acceptance at POS points in many markets and Mastercard’s omnichannel marketing strategies worldwide.
For the brand’s continued focus on a consistent and purposeful approach to using sonic across its whole business-to-consumer and business-to-business customer experience globally, “Best Audio Brands of 2020” for the second year in a row by AMP, based on five key criteria for performance measurement, including customer recognition, customer trust, customer experience, customer engagement and customer belonging.
On top of that, to ensure that the Mastercard melody would resonate with people across genres and cultures across the world while still maintaining the brand identity, in a consistent global effort, Mastercard has partnered with many musicians and artists around the world to create versions of the sonic sound, including the talented composer from Linkin Park - Mike Shinoda.
Most recently, Mastercard joined forces with Producer Timbaland’s Beatclub music creator platform, Executive Producer Niclas Molinder, along with emerging artists who span a variety of cultures, languages, and genres for the creation of its first-ever music album: Priceless®, launched on Spotify across 183 markets. And now, the award-winning melody has been localized and composed for Vietnam by music producer Duong Khac Linh, who has retained the strong original vibe while adding unique Vietnamese audio touches.
For companies like Mastercard, it is vital to highlight the sense of security, safety, and reliability across brand expressions.
With that in mind, when Duong Khac Linh began localizing the Mastercard sound, he leveraged traditional Vietnamese instruments like the flute, zither, and monochord to create a special Vietnamese flavor while keeping the organic feel of the original melody. He also added strong drumbeats to reflect the urban vibe of modern Vietnam.
This year, as part of the “Make a Priceless Moment with Mastercard,” the localized tune has been integrated into the campaign’s music video alongside a series of delicious activities at the gastronomic festival “Flavors Vietnam 2022” to inspire Vietnamese consumers across an array of sensory touchpoints, including sight, taste, and sound, facilitating the genuine bond between brand and users that Mastercard strives for.
Winnie Wong, Country Manager, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Mastercard, said, “Sound adds a powerful new dimension to the brand identity and is a critical component to how people recognize Mastercard today and in the future. Mastercard is very proud to have the Mastercard melody adapted in Vietnam in a distinct and authentic way. It is important that the sonic brand not only reinforces the brand presence but also brings a unique and priceless experience to local cardholders.”
Using sound to empower brand trust
Sounds subtly provoke thoughts and certain feelings. That’s why businesses are eager to use sound to regulate emotions and navigate their audience towards the desired concept of their brand. Yet sonic branding is more than just another way for brands to present their image.
A “sound” sonic strategy should consider audiences’ contemporary audio tastes locally and globally, as well as the compatibility between sound attributes and brand personality.
As the world-leading provider of new-era payment services, Mastercard has been leading the way in sensorial branding- creating a sonic DNA that can be heard and even felt at every touchpoint along customers’ service experience journey.
Mastercard’s “Sound of Trust” is recognized by consumers worldwide on storefronts, payment terminals, apps, and online, facilitating trust via a fresh, dynamic, and catchy tune. The Checkout Sound and Animation have a powerful effect on consumers in the final moment of payment, creating trust in the merchant and peace of mind.
The Mastercard Sonic Research study carried out by GFK from August 2019 to May 2020 found that 65% of consumers feel a store site is trustworthy with the sound embedded; 78% enjoy shopping at a physical store or website with Checkout Sound and Animation, and 80% are even more likely to return to the store - thanks to Mastercard’s mesmerizing sound.
Extending the commitment to Vietnam in 2021, the sonic identity of Mastercard has been implemented in Sacombank’s SoftPOS product in October, the Tiki app in November, and the Payoo app in December. These partnerships create opportunities to leverage Mastercard’s familiar brand’s reassuring effect to reinforce checkout trust.
Lu Duy Nguyen, Senior Director of Tiki Corporation, said, “We are glad to partner up with Mastercard – a leading player in the payment technology sector, to continue our commitment to provide a safe, secured, and easy purchasing experience for our customers on Tiki’s platform. Implementing the Mastercard sonic identity makes it easy for our customers to have trust and peace of mind at checkout and create a unique and memorable payment experience with the brand.”
With the sound of trust, Mastercard is pioneering multisensory branding as a practical tool to help merchants build confidence and loyalty. As the digital age continues to transform the way we live, shop, and play - including how, where, and when brands show up, sonic branding contributes a more prominent part to customers’ experience and shows how much companies care about their own “image,” beyond shapes and colors.