How Tostitos found its new sonic logo in salsa

The sonic branding agency team behind the theme figured out that Tostitos’s salsa jars are tuned to the key of C.
article cover


· 4 min read

What’s the difference between the sounds of a Dorito, a Tostito, or Lay’s potato chip? It’s a trick question. They all sound the same because they crunch the same way when you bite into them.

This chip-based fact posed a challenge for the Tostitos marketing team, who reached out to Made Music Studio, the sonic-branding agency behind audio logos like HBO’s movie-presentation tune and AT&T’s four-note jingle, for help answering a smarter question: How could Tostitos make a sound of their own?

As the team found, the key to Tostitos’s sonic logo lay not in the chip, but in the chip’s beloved companion salsa.

A crunch of one’s own

Made Music Studio started with asking the Tostitos marketing team “questions that we had never been asked before,” Tostitos marketing director Hana Golden told Marketing Brew.

“We drill down and we find each brand’s, what we call, ‘inevitable sound,’ something that couldn’t possibly be anyone else,” said John Taite, Made Music Studio’s EVP of global brand partnerships and development.

Through that process, the Tostitos team found that they “didn’t want to just be another crunch,” Golden said, among all their Frito-Lay sister brands, a couple of which have also worked with Made Music Studio. In fact, it was the success of Doritos’s sonic identity that inspired Tostitos to do the same as it was updating its packaging, Golden told us.

“Everything is expected to have a sound, and we didn’t have a sound,” she said. “It was just very clear that with the capabilities that Made Music had, with the success that Doritos had, that we needed this to round out that transformation” of the packaging.

To create a sound for Tostitos that was more than just a crunch, Taite and his team decided to get their hands on Tostitos’s non-chip products, like its salsas. The resulting sounds, including the pop of the top coming off the salsa jar and the rustling of a bag of chips opening, were all incorporated into the final sonic logo.

The sound of salsa

But the real lightbulb moment for Made Music Studios, Taite said, was when Lucas Murray, the agency’s senior music producer and the composer of the Tostitos theme, started drumming on the lids of the salsa jars.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.

“Those jars are in tune,” Taite told us. “They’re actually in the key of C, and that gave us this opportunity to play around and create some music with the jars.”

Tostitos launched the sonic identity in January and is now using the 1.5 second audio bite at the end of its commercials, Instagram stories, and in content Tostitos sponsors, like entertainment news shows.

To eventually measure the success of the new audio logo, Tostitos will use its yearly testing mechanism that compares its annual brand awareness against the past 15 years, Golden told us. For any boost in brand awareness in 2022, Tositos will “give a lot of that credit to the consistency of using a new sound,” she said, since that’s one of the brand’s major strategy changes of the year.

Golden is also looking at ad recall, which is already 20% higher than the CPG food norm thanks to the sonic logo, per research commissioned from audio intelligence company Veritonic. Furthermore, Taite said the tune should help foster a deeper connection with consumers that could contribute to sales in and of itself.

“In that moment of purchase, there’s this subconscious thinking system, an instinct that kicks in,” Taite said. “When we’re designing these sonic identities, those are the memory triggers that we’re creating, and they’re powerful because they increase that mental availability. And the more of that you have, the more consumers will notice you and recognize you and choose your brand.”

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.