—Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlashSM Name Development

Sonic Bimbo…the name of a new exotic dancer? A new punk rock band? A roller derby team from Seattle? While those are great uses for that name (and don’t bother to check, I’ve already registered the .com domain name!), I’m not talking about that…I’m talking about the outstanding use of sonic branding by Bimbo® Bread.

Sonic branding is the use of sound to brand, just as you use a logo to visually brand. Examples can be as short as the “Intel Inside” four note “theme” or the five note “Tum, Tum, Tum, Tum, TUMS” signature (a brand I used to manage). Longer examples might be programmed into the sound design of an entire commercial—if you recognize the commercial by the sound then the advertiser has utilized sonic branding.

My favorite example of sonic branding is Bimbo® Bread, because of the complex challenge of the Bimbo name. Bimbo Bakeries USA is a division of Grupo Bimbo of Mexico. That relationship has probably led to some branding issues over time, because “Bimbo” would be pronounced “Beembo” in Spanish, but of course most Americans would assume that brand name referred to something less wholesome than sliced bread because they would pronounce it “Bim-Bo,” which is defined as “an attractive but empty-headed young woman.”

If you have not seen the ad that provides the sonic branding for Bimbo Bread, here it is:

The ad has some exceptional animation in it, and that bear is so cute! But the way they teach you to pronounce the brand name is the brilliant part. It is one thing to have on your website “Bimbo® bread (pronounced “Beembo”)” and another to spell it out in a lively and fun way in advertising without insulting people’s intelligence. This is sonic branding at its best!

By the way, if you made the mistake of watching the clip more than once you might find the “Beembo. B I M B O” sonic branding stuck in your head…if that happened, the following website can help you out! (Another good brand name—unhearit—with a good logo!)