"Simplicity makes me happy."

Alicia Keys

♪ ♫  Hot Pockets ♪ ♫ ™

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has a classic gut-busting routine about Hot Pockets. After expounding on the unsophistication of eating them, he envisions the meeting with the jingle writer:

Do love that jangle.
Do you think they worked hard on that song?
"What do you got so far, Bill?"
"Uh... uh... (sings) hot pocket?"
"Thats good, thats very good.
The jingle is almost as good as your "By Mennen"

Our daily life has us ingesting "jangles" and other ear worms that have become part of our subconscious. Maybe you've heard these simple sounds over and over again:

"Liberty, Liberty, Li-berty, Liberty"
"Nationwide is on your side"
"Double-A, TOOT-TOOT, M C O"

These sounds are almost as familiar as a logo like the Facebook F, the Micheline Tire man, or the Disney mouse ears. These are all trademarked logos and visual advertising devices. Sounds can also be trademarked as well. They don't necessarily need to be music, although most are to some degree. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office calls these sound marks. As the patent office tells it, "A sound mark identifies and distinguishes a product or service through audio rather than visual means." The very first sound mark to be recognized is the three-note NBC chime (G-E-C), which started all the way back in 1927 during the earliest days of radio. NBC sent its affiliates a package with a three-note chime pad and a small mallet to use for time checks. In a clever bit of marketing, NBC even sold a chime for your home. "Call your family to dinner...signal your maid" one advertisement urges. Hmm, seems like that would have created a Pavlovian response every time Amos and Andy came on.

Sound marks aren't limited to music. Sounds that are organic, synthesized, and even speech can be a very effective tool to cement a brand's identity. Here's a pop quiz: What company or product do you think of when you hear:

  1. A lion roar
  2. "You've got mail!"
  3. "D'oh!"
Now these are obviously heard in your mind, but they have been so drilled into our subconscious that anything remotely close to these would still remind you of MGM, AOL, or FOX Entertainment. How did these become such iconic sound marks? The sounds by themselves didn't do it, but they certainly had a hand in the success. All three of these companies are big corporations that had substantial financial backing, massive marketing campaigns, and quality products that people wanted. But that's not to say a tiny company can't have success with sounds.

I'm no marketing guru, but there's one thing I've seen time and again in successful business advertising: consistency. Companies that want to be successful must have the same message from top to bottom. This includes the logo; Colors, fonts, or language used in advertising, communications, and packaging; And musical or sound identifiers used in services, products, and advertising. Customers must also have a consistent and positive experience with the product or service. Some great examples that employ all the tools, including sounds, are:

Apple. The bitten apple logo is synonymous with a Mac (which was originally a Macintosh, hence a macintosh apple). Apple has also consistently stuck with a white background and simple font in packaging, manuals, web presence, and advertising. The Apple chime heard during a computer startup has more or less been present in its products for decades.

Coca-Cola. Their logo conjures up a classic taste (although they once infamously screwed with it - and their image - by temporarily changing its flavor), Santa Claus, and a bunch of young people on a hilltop holding hands and singing in perfect harmony. That 1971 television commercial is the most iconic ever and influenced a generation of Coke drinkers. Two commercially-released versions of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" charted at #5 and #7 on Billboard in the U.S., and #1 in several countries. Go ahead and hum it, you know you want to.

The Rolling Stones. Look at the logo and you instantly think of the bad boys of Rock n Roll. You can also picture Mick Jagger doing his chicken-wing strut and singing "Jumping Jack Flash" or "Brown Sugar." 

The other thing I've seen successful companies do is embrace simplicity, as all of the above examples have done in their messaging. With sound identities, it's often a simple sequence of musical notes (Intel's chime) or a to-the-point phrase ("Cha-cha-cha-chia"). Although these brand idents are broad and all encompassing, a particular product can have it's own sound identity as well. One example is the kid whispering "Dogs love trucks" in Nissan's Frontier truck ads in the 1990s. It's simple on so many levels: we associate kids with dogs, and dogs with trucks; only three words; a whisper is a very minimal sound.

How can you create a sound signature to help your marketing? By following the rules of consistency and simplicity. To get there, first whittle down your logo, slogan, color scheme, fonts, and other visual identities to as simple and consistent of a message as possible. Every element should tie in together because you can use these as cues for your sound signature.

In my business, I've tied our logo, colors, and web site to the interior of the facility (take a tour of our studios here). For instance, our main color scheme across the board is neutral gray and black with splashes of blue and red accents. Our walls are gray, ceilings black, and the floor is either gray carpet or maple. When you walk in through our front door, you're immediately presented with bright red chairs. We use accents of red/orange to inspire creativity and inspiration. Our vocal booth has calming blue lights on the back wall (voice talent can be under incredible pressure), and the producer's desks have hanging red lamps for inspiration. I even keep an orange lava lamp on my desk for motivation. If my colors were sounds, together they would be simple and calming synthesized chords, a medium tempo light rhythm with a backbeat, and a reverberant sax or flugelhorn melody with a horn section giving occasional punches and stabs.

For me, seeing storyboards, brochures, and a color scheme helps to target music and style of narration to the audience the service is aimed at (I wouldn't use a Rolling Stones-like song for a hospital commercial, for instance). I'm also studying the intent and phrasing of the words. If we're going after heartstrings, then I would lean toward emotional sound elements. If we're showing that a product creates high productivity, then the soundscape might be more mechanical or precise.

I sometimes see jumbled or complex messaging going on in web marketing and broadcast advertising. Here are some loose rules to help you tailor a sound for your company:

Consistency. The music, scripting, narration, and other sound cues should remain consistent during an entire advertising or marketing campaign. Although jingles aren't as common anymore, always using the same custom or stock music builds brand awareness. The script construction and voice talent should remain uniform to achieve familiarity. The "rules" can be broken from time to time, but consistency is the key.

Stay on one topic at a time. You only have the listener/viewer for a brief amount of time (usually just seconds), so don't try to sell the whole shop in one go. Your aim is to get them to just step through the doorway. A plumbing service might want to focus on 24/7 response instead of all the services they do. Breaking up each thing you're trying to sell into separate campaigns or ads will create repetition of your brand.

Simplify the message. Use as few words as possible. Listeners will not remember details, only impressions. Try to connect those impressions to the product. A local coffee roaster might try to evoke the smell of freshly roasted and brewed coffee with people drinking coffee and having a good time. A few "Mmmms" and laughter could trigger personal memories of good times being had over coffee.

By planning an entire marketing campaign around these "sound" principles, hopefully your brand can achieve a sonic familiarity with customers. Keeping it simple, consistent, and on topic isn't easy – it's hard. But isn't your company worth it?

Here are some interesting links to our topic:

Sound mark examples at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:

The NBC chimes story:

We are taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously here at Dynamix Productions. We're taking safety measures recommended by health officials. We are regularly sanitizing everything we can think of and keeping as much of a "social distance" as possible. Our producer desk and engineer seat is more than 6 feet away in each studio, and there is glass between the engineer and voice talent. We're recording only one person at a time in each studio for now, but we can put another person in our second VO booth and link them together via Zoom or Skype. We're also encouraging some of our voice talent to work from their house if they have recording equipment. We sincerely wish that you and your families will stay safe and secure during these unusual times. For more on our new procedures and options for you, read this special statement.

-Neil Kesterson
Dynamix Productions, Inc. is an audio production facility in the heart of thoroughbred horse country, Lexington, Kentucky. Some of the many audio services we provide are: sound-for-picture, corporate communications, advertising, narrations, audiobooks, podcasts, live broadcast, ISDN, location and remote recording, restoration, and tape/LP to digital transfers. 

Since our opening 17 years ago in 2003, we have won or been a part of nearly 100 awards; including more than 75 ADDY’s (American Advertising Federation), 10 Telly's, 2 Silver Microphones, 1 PRSA (Public Relations Society of America), 1 Eclipse Award, and 1 Emmy nomination.

Why do professionals from desktop producers to Fortune 50 companies choose Dynamix for the highest level of production? We Listen.

Sound Bits

Sound and audio tech news from around the web
  • Scientists spot 6 alien worlds orbiting a star in strange — but precise — harmony. The planets around the star TOI-178 know how to keep a beat. Read about it on
  • Sun Records, Iconic Johnny Cash & Jerry Lee Lewis Recordings Sold to Primary Wave. The deal also included the Sun Records trademark, which sources say is also a very profitable component, as well as the Sun Diner in Nashville and its merch business too. Read about it on Billboard.
  • Developer modifies 4th-gen iPod with built-in Wi-Fi and Spotify. iPod touch is officially the only iPod Apple has ever released with Wi-Fi connection, but what if other older iPods also had an internet connection and access to streaming services? Read about it.
  • The Bizarre Story Behind an Iconic Resident Evil Sound Effect. The author has been hearing a single sound, everywhere, for 22 years? He's heard it in countless movies, tons of television shows, video games and even pop music. (I've had this SFX in my library for years and have even used it few times myself!) Read about it on IGN.
  • Super High-Fidelity Mario: The quest to find original gaming audio samples. Investigation of original, uncompressed samples leads to CD-quality restorations. Read it on ArsTechnica.

Listen to

Dynamix Productions, and WEKU-FM, Eastern Kentucky University’s public radio station in Richmond, KY, partnered in 2018 to move primary production of the popular long-running radio program EASTERN STANDARD to the studios of Dynamix. The first program produced at Dynamix aired on July 19, 2018. By bringing the production to Lexington, producers have easier access to Central Kentucky business, healthcare, and education leaders, as well as local artists, entertainers, and other newsmakers. The move underlines WEKU’s commitment to providing the area’s most concise and in-depth coverage of news, issues, and ideas that directly affect Central Kentuckians. The EASTERN STANDARD radio program is made possible from the generous support of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and the Appalachian Impact Fund.

Hosted by network news veteran Tom Martin, EASTERN STANDARD is a public affairs program that covers a broad range of topics of interest to Kentuckians. Resources for topics include WEKU’s reporting partner, the Ohio Valley ReSource, a partnership with seven public media outlets across three states; the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting; and National Public Radio. EASTERN STANDARD can be heard Thursdays at 11:00 AM  / 8:00 PM and Sundays at 6:00 PM on 88.9 WEKU-FM, and online at

Recent topics and guests on the program include:
  • Tom Martin with UK Pharmacist, researcher Sarah Blevins: How the Ryan White Act and its approach to HIV now treats opioid addiction | Stephanie Lang, editor of The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society with Jon Coleman: Elijah "Lige" Clarke and LGBTQ history in Eastern, Kentucky |  UK history professor Gerald Smith with PG Peeples in his 51st year leading the Urban League of Lexington. | Tom Martin with Lindsay Kampfer,  Licensed Clinical Social Worker, certified for Advanced Palliative and Hospice Social Work and a Counseling Resource Officer for Bluegrass Care Navigators: the profound experience of hospice.
  • Part One of a special two-part series on renter-landlord distress in a pandemic economy. Many Kentucky rental households have fallen behind on monthly payments and are at risk of eviction. Many landlords who remain responsible for mortgage payments and the costs of maintenance and repairs have gone months without receiving crucial monthly rental payments. Guests: Adrienne Bush, Executive Director of the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky; James Pennington, a professor in the EKU Government Department and a Lexington attorney with a landlord-tenant practice; Fred Schaeffer, president of the Central Kentucky Landlord Association 
  • Part Two of a series about renter-landlord distress due to the economic impact of the pandemic. The series looks into the CDC eviction moratorium which directs landlords not to put people out in the street for nonpayment of rent and into living situations where they can catch and spread the coronavirus. In this episode, we hear from: Ginny Ramsey, Catholic Action Center; Art Crosby, Fair Housing Council; Tyler Scott, Chief of Staff in the Office of Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton; Lexington Social Services Commissioner Chris Ford; Karen Atkins, Kentucky River Foothills Development Council; Lexington Human Rights Commissioner Ray Sexton. UPDATE: President Biden has called for an extension of the eviction moratorium to at least March 31st. 
  • The works of one of Kentucky’s leading literary figures is put to the ultimate test: critical reviews by peers. We talk with the editor of the forthcoming University Press of Kentucky release:  Silas House: Exploring an Appalachian Writer's Work. Silas House has also been in the studio to record a duet with Nashville singer-songwriter Tiffany Williams, who joins us. And we hear about all of this from Silas House himself. Plus, another well-known Kentucky writer: Frank X Walker, talks with Tom Eblen about the times and how the forces in play in 2020 have influenced his work. 
Did you miss the live show? Listen online.

Notable Recent Productions

  • Post-production audio for "Escape to the Chateau," a weekly television show airing Saturdays on HGTV. (Wrigley Media Group, Lexington, KY). Check out the episode guide here.
  • Markey Cancer Center "Awareness" radio/TV campaign for UK HealthCare. (Team Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • "AgFuture" podcasts for Alltech  (Alltech, Nicholasville, KY)
  • "Digital Wallets" web/radio campaign (Forcht Bank, Lexington, KY)
  • "Block Talk" podcast for Ridley Block  (Alltech, Nicholasville, KY)
  • Video soundtracks for upcoming online conference "One 21"  (Alltech, Nicholasville, KY)
  • "WolfeSword," an audiobook by Kathryn Le Veque, Narrated by Brad Wills.
  • "Tales of American History" podcasts for the Witnessing History Education Foundation
  • "Risk Management' employee training modules for UK HealthCare (UK HealthCare, Lexington, KY)

Live and Online

Television programs produced at Dynamix Productions

Escape to the Chateau

Lieutenant colonel Dick Strawbridge and his partner Angel Adoree trade their English apartment for a dilapidated, 19th-century French chateau. The pair work to restore, renovate and redecorate the estate into a fairytale castle for their upcoming wedding.

You Live in What? International

Architect George Clarke is on a mission to find inspiration for his outrageous, space-age concept house. His journey takes him around the world to meet the visionary people who build and live in some of the most unusual homes ever seen.

Podcasts produced at Dynamix Productions

Vote Worthy helps to inform voters about the issues and challenges surrounding the 2020 General Election.

The Cancer Crisis in Appalachia"
Compelling stories from the next generation of leaders in the fight against cancer in Appalachia.
From UK's Markey Cancer Center.

Tales of American History
"Tales of American History" with Kent Masterson Brown

"The Tyler Gossett Podcast"

GoFundMe podcast "Todd Oldfield and Wendall Gill: A Community Comes Together"

"Embedded" podcast from NPR
Al Cross in a series of podcasts about Mitch McConnell

Audiobooks produced at Dynamix Productions






Other projects produced at Dynamix
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Lexington, KY 40502

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Dynamix Productions, Inc. · 333 North Ashland Ave · Suite 120 · Lexington, KY 40502 · USA

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