Sonic Branding Continues to Gain Popularity as Mastercard Launches Its Own Sound

Brand worked with agencies, artists and musicians around the world

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park was among the musicians who worked with the brand. Mastercard
Headshot of Katie Richards

Just one month after Mastercard refreshed its logo (and announced a shift away from using the brand name), the company has more brand identity news. Today, it released its own sonic branding—a new sound that will help consumers recognize the brand when they make purchases with their Mastercard or when they see an ad for the brand on TV.

“Just as people all over the world recognize our red and yellow circles, they will now come to associate our unique sound as Mastercard every time they hear it,” said Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Mastercard isn’t the first in its category to create a sound of its own. Just over a year ago, Visa debuted its own sonic branding ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics. So why has Mastercard decided to hop on the trend?

“The world around us is transforming at an incredible pace, impacting how consumers engage with everything around them, and that includes brands,” Rajamannar said. “The latest example is the ascent of audio in our lives—hundreds of millions of people are already using smart speakers, and voice shopping alone is set to hit $40 billion by 2022.”

In addition to what consumers will hear when they make a purchase (in stores, online or via voice-enabled devices), Mastercard developed a few different scenario-specific styles of the sound, like coffee shop and taxi. There’s also “playful,” “cinematic” and an “operatic” version, and the brand created melodies for different regions.

As part of the 18-plus-month process of creating a sound that would resonate with a global audience, Mastercard worked with agencies, artists and musicians around the world, including Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda. “What I love most about the Mastercard melody is just how flexible and adaptable it is across genres and cultures,” Shinoda said in a statement. “It’s great to see a big brand expressing themselves through music to strengthen their connection with people.”

After working with a wide group of people for inspiration, Mastercard’s in-house StoryLab got to work creating all the assets for the sonic identity. Last month, to announce the new logo, Mastercard rolled out its first wordless press release. To top that, the brand produced its first “Audio News Update,” sort of like an audio press release, to share the news.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.