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The Rise and Rise of the Sonic Logo

A logo is not a brand, but it has an important role to play in branding: it instantly represents the brand’s character, introducing us if we’re not acquainted or reminding us if we’re old friends. A logo is like a photograph – not the real thing, but a good reminder. Logos have been so effective that every company has at least one – which is where the problems begin.

I call the problem ‘over messaging’. Each of us now encounters a staggering 30,000 commercial messages every single day, and the vast majority of them are visual. This means that for the next few years at least, sonic logos – by which I mean short sonic mnemonics that are the exact audio counterparts of the visual logo – are going to be worth considering simply because they are relatively rare and can thus act as powerful differentiators. However there’s more to sonic logos than curiosity value alone: used wisely, they work exceptionally well. The also go back much further than you might think.

Sonic logos have actually been around for hundreds of years: street calling used to be the main way tradesmen advertised their services, as wonderfully romanticised in the film Oliver. It’s only a few decades since that practice ended: I can remember the ‘rag-and-bone’ man’s mournful shout of “anyoldiron?” from my childhood in London. The modern-day equivalent is the ice cream van: just watch the cathartic effect of its chimes on surrounding buildings on a hot summer’s day to see the potency of sonic logos deployed in the right place at the right time. Most ice cream chimes are generic, but in Sweden the Hemglass ice cream tune is a universally known and loved sonic brand.

As soon as the advertising industry got sound to play with, it saw the potential of memorable music/voice combinations and the jingle and tagline were born. The dividing line between jingle or a tagline an a sonic logo is blurred. In general, jingles and taglines come and go with campaigns and rarely live for more than a few years. Even the most memorable usually get retired. “For hands that do dishes…”; “It’s the real thing”; these and many more once-mighty jingles or taglines are now languishing in retirement homes, though the brands are still very much with us today.

Some taglines have become sonic logos through sheer memorability. One in particular has outlasted entire generations of customers: Tony the tiger has been saying “they’re gr-r-r-r-reat!” since 1951. This is probably the longest-running sonic logo in the world, and it has now outlived its voice-over artist. Thurl Ravenscroft voiced many Disney characters but Tony was his greatest achievement. He was Tony’s voice for over 50 years until his death in 2005; today, Lee Marshall carries the baton.

Some of the most successful sonic logos have even been registered as trademarks: the roar of the MGM lion and the old NBC three-tone chime are two examples.

These examples notwithstanding, it wasn’t until the 1990s that sonic logos started to be taken really seriously and their use considered by many major brands. The sea change came with Intel. Its four-note sonic logo, composed by Austrian musician Walter Werzowa, has become one of the best-known sounds in the world, and has spearheaded Intel’s extraordinary success as a brand – given that this is a product nobody ever sees and nobody ever buys.

Today, sonic logos are more in play then ever before. UK insurance giant Direct Line has a sprightly bugle call, which speaks volumes about urgency, assistance and playfulness in just three seconds. Apple has its comforting, uplifting start-up sound, engineered in 1991 by Jim Reekes and still shipping 16 years later. (It is inexplicable that the mighty Microsoft has never seen the value of a single start-up sound; the sound of Windows has changed with every successive version of the software, so that now there is no sound of Windows. They may be learning through: huge amounts of time and money were invested in ‘a language of sounds’ for the Xbox 360.) Lufthansa has invested in a corporate sound, comprising four rising tones that are aimed to convey feelings of taking off and wellbeing. Siemens has recently added a seventh element to its branding: sound has now joined logo, claim, typeface, colours, layout and style as one of the basic building blocks of the Siemens brand. The company has created both an ‘audio signature’ (aka a sonic logo) and also some mood sound as part of its new palette. Even political parties are joining in: Wales’s Plaid Cymru has a short sonic logo to welcome you in peace and harmony to its website.

The evidence is that more and more major brands are creating a sonic logo as a matter of course. With the continuing rise of mobile devices (along with custom ring tones and downloaded digital sound) I believe we have not yet scratched the surface of the sonic logo.

Is it time your brand found its voice – before your competitors find theirs?

Sonic the Hedgehog Rush Adventure

Sonic Rush Adventure is a sequel to the Sonic Rush. Sonic Rush is the first game that Sonic published in the Sonic series that allow head to head play through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and Office of Film and Literature Classification have rated Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity as suitable for the general audience. The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rated the game as suitable for children that are aged 12 years old and above.

According to the story plot, a mysterious radar energy signal appears on the radar that belongs to Tail. This causes Sonic to become curious and went to investigate on the matter. As Sonic and Tail flew across the ocean, a storm appears and blew them off the course. Later, Tails was unable to steer the plan and they crash onto one of the islands. Sonic and Tail manage to climb out of the crash. However, they feel very lost and decide to search for help. After that they come across an excited raccoon called Marine. Marine told them that they are now at Southern island. Marine keep on talking about her dream to sail around the world is broken because of her shipwrecked ship. Tails offers to rebuild her ship in hope that she will bring them home for a good turn. While Sonic explore the Southern island, Tail was busy rebuilding the ship. With the ship, Sonic was able to race across the high sea and discover the hidden islands and a group of sneaky pirates. Captain Whisker is the head of these notorious pirates. The pirates have decided to get rid of Sonic from the race to protect their precious jewels. As Sonic races through the chaotic world, he encounter with Blaze. The story did not reveal the reason that brought Blaze to Sonic. It is now up to you to solve the mystery.

There are a number of gimmicks throughout the game including the thin floor, thick floor, somersault, vine, hang glider, mine cart, snowboard, anti gravity devices, water guns and dolphins. Gimmicks will propel you forward in some way. There are a number of gimmicks that requires you to follow an instruction in order to operate it.

Sonic Versus Mario

Even though Mario is ten years older, a very good case can be made for Sonic, when it comes to the title of “Most Popular Video Game Character” of ALL TIME!! Let look at the “Tale of the Tape”:

Sonic from Sega, is a blue anthropomorphic (changes shape) hedgehog with the ability to run faster than the speed of sound; his talent for speed forms a large part of the game play of the series. He is 15 years old. Sonic has been described as being “like the wind.” He is noted for being heroic, adventurous, and free-spirited. He enjoys relaxation, but is never one to rest in the face of injustice. He is extremely benevolent, and would willingly put himself at risk for others, taking on any challenge that confronts him without hesitation. Throughout his 15 years of existence, Sonic has never been linked to any job he is always collecting jewelry, so access to funds is not a problem for him.

Mario from Nintendo, now at the ripe old age of 25, is more of a “George Foreman” type, Mario is always portrayed as being a kind-hearted and brave hero. He helps those in need without any hesitation. Despite his status as a great hero, Mario is very humble. His cheerful personality and love of life make him a very approachable video game character. He also has a love of pasta and pizza, as the stereotypical Italian does. Mario is suppose to be a plumber by trade, but in all his years I don’t recall him ever working on any “plumbing” jobs, but always in the “rescue business” saving princess’ or Mushroom kingdoms from Large “Dino” type animals.

Based on these descriptions, they appear to have more in common than one might originally have thought.

Sonic’s speed would be his biggest asset in a match up with Mario while Mario counters with his tremendous jumping ability and Mario also carries a BIG HAMMER. Maybe this should be a “Steel Cage” match? LOL

Mario counters with his experience and his “jumping ability” which would be the deciding factor I believe in this battle, as he would continue to stomp on Sonic’s head. Now on to the “Game breakdown”:

MARIO

1. Donkey Kong

2. Mario Bros

3. Super Mario Bros

4. Super Mario Bros 2

5. Super Mario Land

6. Super Mario Bros 3

7. Super Mario World

8. Super Mario Land 2

9. Super Mario Land 3

10. Super Mario Bros DX

SONIC

1. Sonic the Hedgehog

2. Sonic 2

3. Sonic 3

4. Sonic & Knuckles

5. Sonic CD

6. Sonic 3D Blast

7. Sonic Adventure

8. Sonic Adventure 2

9. Sonic Hero’s

10. Sonic Spinball

After reviewing the above “tale of the tape”, it is my conclusion that the winner of a contest between these two behemoths would be Mario by a Knock Out. I believe that his perseverance and stamina would wear down Sonic and render Sonic’s one advantage (his speed) worthless.