Perhaps the best known sonic brand of modern time is the NBC chimes. Just 3 notes G, E, C. They didn’t even set out to create a mnemonic. Originally developed in 1927 as seven notes, they were standardized to the current three-note version by the early 1930s. The chimes were originally developed as an audible programming cue, used to alert network control engineers and the announcers at NBC’s radio network affiliates. Today, it’s recognized as the gold standard of sonic branding. Not for its creative genius—it’s a triad for crying out loud! The endurance and longevity is what all other examples of sonic branding wish to achieve. The subliminal connection that those 3 notes have to the NBC brand is undeniable.

There are other well known examples that don’t have nearly as long a run as the NBC chimes. Intel might be a runner up in “the best known examples of mnemonic devices” race. For 20+ years we’ve heard those 5 notes referred to, affectionately, as the intel bong, at the end of every single ad for Intel.

Relative newcomers like Netflix and T-mobile are quickly becoming just as ubiquitous. A recent television campaign for T-mobile customers having free streaming of Netflix on their service featured dueling mnemonics for the companies. I wasn’t in the room when this was pitched but I don’t think anyone was worried that people “wouldn’t get it”.

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