Last month, Sam Smith won an OSCAR at the 88th Academy Awards for “Writing’s on the Wall,” an original song he wrote for Spectre, the 24th installment in the James Bond film franchise. “Writing’s on the Wall” is not the first James Bond title theme to win an OSCAR (that honor went to Adele for “Skyfall”), but it joins an impressive number of chart-topping and award-winning musical siblings, including ”Goldfinger” (Shirley Bassey), “Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney & Wings), “Nobody Does It Better” (Carly Simon), “A View to a Kill” (Duran Duran), and “For Your Eyes Only” (Sheena Easton).
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The success of Bond music offers a great lesson for brands.
All of these popular title themes have a harmonic signature that is composed to complement the world famous James Bond theme (think fat guitar twanging “dum di-di dum dum”). That instantly-recognizable theme may be one of the greatest examples of sonic branding of all time. Created by Monty Norman and advanced by composer John Barry, the theme relies on four simple chords that alternate between major and minor. This pattern holds the magic that has allowed five decades of pop stars to riff on it in a contemporary and relevant way. Audiences sense a Bond theme before it has fully played out. The brand is revealed without cluttering the song. It is the true secret agent.
Many brands have learned to achieve this goal through visual means. You can sense the presence of Apple in a commercial without seeing a logo, for example. Modern visual identity systems often work harder than the logo itself. Typography, color palette, imagery and grid systems provide powerful cues that trigger our mind to credit a brand. But fewer brands achieve this goal with sound. For brands that are bold enough to employ sonic branding, most rely on mnemonics (the Southwest “bing”) and jingles (McDonald’s Ba-da-da-da-da … I’m Lovin’ It). But imagine trying to compose a pop song around these devices. You might succeed once. But could you build a legacy like Bond’s with this approach? Doubtful.
In January, UTA Brand Studio launched the Brand Dependence™ Index (BDI), with new brands and categories being added to the study each quarter.
Developed in an exclusive partnership with uSamp, Brand Dependence™ is a quantitative research methodology built upon pioneering academic work on brand attachment by Deborah MacInnis and C. Whan Park, at the USC Marshall School of Business.
Along with colleagues at other academic institutions around the world, Deborah MacInnis and C. Whan Park, both professors at USC’s Marshall School of Business, are the creators of the pioneering quantitative research methodology used in UTA Brand Studio’s Brand Dependence research.
Traditional brand equity metrics include awareness, familiarity, favorability, and credibility. Brand Dependence™ actually considers how people see brands as relating to themselves—being part of their own identity, sharing their values and beliefs. When coupled to traditional metrics, BDI provides powerful insights on how to make a brand indispensable to consumers, employees and investors.
Inaugural BDI Findings
Laurence Vincent, UTA Brand Studio founder and executive director, unveiled the inaugural BDI during a presentation entitled “The Story of Attachment” at the recent International CES in Las Vegas, as reported by re/code. This index focused on technology and consumer electronics and revealed that Microsoft and Samsung topped the list of technology brands that consumers relate more to themselves and say they “can’t live without.”
As we do every week, Brand Studio staffers connected via a high security com-link to discuss the most interesting and relevant stories related to branding that crossed our feeds. Here’s the list for this week.