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Barbie Took A Note From The Sonic Branding Playbook

A deep dive into Barbie’s strategic play with music, and how future films, TV, and brands can follow suit.

Barbie has taken the marketing world by storm, with branded campaigns and partnerships ranging from Burger King to GAP. But no world is complete, even the Barbie world, without music.

From original tunes to creative re-recordings, the music of Barbie features songs from an all-star lineup of GRAMMY-nominated artists, like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj, Dominic Fike, Tame Impala, Sam Smith, and others, with acclaimed producer Mark Ronson weaving it all together.

These songs and artists helped create a complete Barbie world that meshed movie soundtrack, cohesive partner marketing, and popular songs throughout into a cohesive sonic identity. Done right, it looks effortless. But there are actually very specific steps needed for a brand to create a sonic identity as effective as Barbie’s.

According to Songtradr, a strong sonic brand identity includes such elements as:

Understanding Your Audience
Do the research needed to understand both the basics of your target audience (age, location, and other demographics) but also the broader competitive landscape that your audience is considering. That includes what other music is being used to attract them, and how to strategically mesh with that environment.

The Barbie movie soundtrack takes a note from the sonic branding playbook — creating original, recognizable music that instantly spotlights the brand. While the songs have proven the ability to stand out on their own, they do so while creating continued brand awareness and the movie they were created for.

Your Unique Historical Context
To avoid sounding too much like competitors, and getting lost in the “background noise” it’s often useful to leverage any historical assets that can be reused, refreshed, or reintroduced in creative ways that allow your brand to stand out.

For instance, the original “Barbie Girl” Aqua song, first released in 1996, got an expected bump around the movie’s popularity and the marketing around it. It now has well over 10 million streams on Spotify since the beginning of July, and has been featured in over 1 million TikTok videos over the last month alone.

Broader Cultural Trends
Step 1 is to find music that aligns with the musical and cultural trends at large to capitalize on the sound of the day. But done right, Step 2 actually influences those cultural trends, which Barbie did with great effect.

For instance, brands are tapping into the Barbie hype. Chevrolet’s new TV spot, “Blazer EV and Barbie” features “Speed Drive” by Charli XCX, one of the original songs created for the movie. Streaming activity for the track has more than tripled since the film’s premiere.

Will we see more feature films apply the sonic branding strategy as Barbie and brands do?

To learn more about the intersection of art and advertising, visit the audio experts at MassiveMusic, a Songtradr brand. MassiveMusic works with artists, producers and marketers alike to find music solutions that make your brand stand out, and songs that catch your ear – whether it be sonic logos for TikTok, re-recordings with Heineken, or music scientifically designed to elevate Olympic athletes’ performance.

Data provided by Songtradr, the world’s largest full-stack B2B music platform.

Songtradr is the world's largest full-stack B2B music platform helping brands, content creators, and digital platforms find their voice and connect with audiences through music. Whether with a classic song or a trending tune, a global music strategy or a sonic identity, we help translate ideas into powerful, ROI-driven solutions that always hit the right note.

Our fully integrated suite of products and solutions simplifies the process of finding, licensing and managing music across all formats. The result reduces cost and complexity, increases consistency and compliance, and elevates the full potential of music catalogs for both users and rights holders alike.