Jingles are short tunes that serve as a form of audio branding for various companies and products.
Though mainstream pop songs are starting to infiltrate the commercials that jingles once dominated, their impact is still undeniable – think of the immediate recognizability of Nationwide’s lyrical hook or McDonald’s cheery motif. Though they may seem simple, writing a good jingle is a careful art that requires a musician to be able to deliver something that’s simultaneously memorable, brief, and aligned with a company or product’s brand.
Jingle Punks are a music publishing and licensing company that boasts a robust catalog of music for TV and film, and as their name suggests, jingles are one of their many fortes. In this article, we had the opportunity to speak with music producer and Jingle Punks co-founder Jingle Jared on the three qualities that make a good jingle.
Jingle Jared has one quality he looks for in a jingle before anything else: “immediate stickiness.” This comes as no surprise, as memorability is one of the chief objectives of a jingle.
Simplicity is key when it comes to achieving memorability. “For some reason, the great hook writers of our time – whether it’s Paul McCartney, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, Poo Bear, Ed Sheeran, or Taylor Swift – have a knack for capturing people’s imagination and attention through a simple array of repetitive notes, ideas, and phrases,” Jared observes.
His go-to indicator of stickiness is what he calls the “earworm test.” “If you find yourself thinking about a song’s musical elements over and over again and can’t remember where they came from, or why they’re haunting your consciousness… You likely have something very memorable and sticky,” he says.
Ultimately, there’s no single formula for creating earworms. “You need to make a lot of stuff – you need to tinker a lot to figure out where your catchiness will come from,” Jared notes.
Intentional production decisions can also help elevate a jingle’s memorability and overall quality. “Sometimes, sonic elements that are not necessarily musical, like whoops or yelps and shouts, can help create an additional foundation for catchiness,” Jared explains.
“My favorite production techniques include picking up the guitar and working along with Splice’s sounds,” he continues. “They help me frame my ideas and communicate quickly… I’m also a huge fan of quick fixes on the mixing and compression side; iZotope has an awesome mixing and mastering suite that I use quite frequently, and I also like Sausage Fattener for when I record instruments on the fly and need to beef them up. Whether it’s an acoustic guitar, a pad, or even whistles, I’m able to get the sound beefed up without sacrificing any of the sonic quality, just by cranking the dial a little bit.”
Lastly, a good jingle is one that helps elevate the story of the product or company that it’s made for. “My work on Pawn Stars and American Pickers really reflect traveling across the ‘old weird America,’” Jared notes. Individual decisions such as the rock-n’-roll instrumentation, gritty snare tone, and compressed mix all add up to tell a single, cohesive story.
“You want something that reflects whatever it is that you’re trying to connect with,” Jared explains. “If you’re trying to connect with someone who buys Taco Bell or yogurt or diapers, there’s different demographics for each of them.”
What do you think is important when it comes to writing a good jingle? Let us know in the comments below.
July 18, 2019