Six brands that have made the most of how they sound

Strictly functional sounds, like a Sharpie’s ‘scritch-scratch,’ grow on consumers.
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Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

· 4 min read

Here in the city that never sleeps (but occasionally naps), a sign of spring has returned: The jingle from the Mr. Softee ice cream truck. Whether you love it or it’s slowly driving you insane, after a couple of notes, both the truck and swirled vanilla ice cream are imprinted in your brain.

While jingles are the most familiar form of sonic branding, another type can be more beguiling: the sound of a product being used, like the pop of opening Pringles or breaking and eating a KitKat.

But when should you play up a sound that a product makes, and when should you just…let it be?

Greta Dirsel, executive creative director at branding and design agency Landor & Fitch, told us that a brand like Velcro would not necessarily want to play up the sound it makes. It “might be like nails scratching on a chalkboard for some people,” Dirsel said.

Here are some brands that have made the most of how they sound:


The stackable potato chips are packaged in a vacuum-sealed can for freshness, but that also means opening them can be oddly delightful.

“It’s satisfying, like popping Bubble Wrap,” Dirsel said, adding that connecting a sound to that first whiff of the chips and then crunching away can combine to make consumers feel more attached to the brand.

“Having all those positive, powerful associations with the sound, the smell—it imprints heavier in our minds,” she said.

Pringles turned the banality of opening a package into a brand attribute, with an ad campaign by Grey introduced in 1996 promising, “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop.” The campaign ran until 2022, only to be replaced by another tagline that refers to the sound, “Mind Popping.”


The sound of a Zippo “windproof” lighter being opened, lit, and closed is described by the brand as “Chick–Fwek–Clink.” It claims the lighter, and appealing sound, has been featured in more than 2,000 films, and that it has never paid for placement.

One indicator of how much the company values what it sounds like came in 2018, when Zippo announced it had been awarded a trademark for the sound.

“It does have a certain cool factor,” Dirsel said of Zippo. “Anytime you have a sound, you should consider what story you can tell with it or what associations you can make with it.”


The brand was introduced in 1931 but didn’t draw attention to the sound it made–“plop, plop, fizz, fizz”–until the 1960s.

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“You mention, ‘Plop, plop, fizz, fizz,’ and I can’t help but think, ‘Oh, what a relief it is,’” said Dirsel, completing the popular slogan. “They wanted to create an association with the sound of it, and the relief you got with it.”

Rice Krispies

Kellogg’s introduced the brand in 1928, and after consumers started to take note of the crackling sound the cereal made when milk was added, its package began featuring the words “Snap!” “Crackle!” and “Pop!” in 1932. Then, in 1933, it commissioned artist Vernon Grant to create characters based on those sounds, according to Kellogg’s.


It’s not just the ink that’s indelible. The brand refers to the sound a Sharpie marker makes as “scritch-scratch,” and they strive to maintain that sound when they modify their markers or introduce new ones

“It’s part of the experience of using that marker,” Lisa King, then-vice president of insights and innovation at Sharpie’s parent company Newell Rubbermaid Inc., told the Wall Street Journal in 2018. “The sound of your product can be as distinctive as the look.”

Dirsel lauded Sharpie for recognizing how scritch-scratch resonated with consumers.

“It’s about being distinctive and trying to own something,” Diesel said. “In branding, that’s crucial.”


The sound the metal cap makes when a bottle of Snapple is opened was considered integral to how consumers experienced the brand.

“The Snapple consumer is very, very protective of the bottle shape, they’re protective of the pop, and they’re protective of the under-the-cap facts,” Patrick George, then-senior director of engineering for Dr Pepper Snapple Group, told Packaging World in 2018. “If you don’t supply them with those three things, they’re not happy.”

But just one year later, in 2019, the company, which was acquired and is now called Keurig Dr Pepper, switched to more sustainable packaging—and lost the audible top.

It turns out that while a sound is important, it’s not a bad idea to consider other factors, too—like the future of the planet.
“While Snapple’s iconic ‘Pop!’ may go away, the entire package—bottle, cap, and label—can now be recycled together,” the company’s website explained.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.