- The 2015 Kia Soul EV and Sedona minivan will play a signature sound when various convenience and safety features are started up and shut down.
- The tune, "The Rise of Surprise," will also be heard on TV commercials, the Kia Web site and customer service calls.
- Kia says its integrated approach to sonic branding will appear on a number of future models and will be customized to each particular vehicle type.
Kia calls it the Sonic Branding Initiative and says it's "the auto industry's first ever fully integrated brand signature sound applied to vehicles as well as numerous customer touch-points with the Kia brand."
Other "touch points" where the sound will be heard include TV commercials, the Kia Web site and on customer service calls. It's also available here as a downloadable ringtone.
There will eventually be four different versions of the sound, each customized to a particular vehicle type. After introducing the sound, called "The Rise of Surprise," on the 2015 Soul EV and Sedona, Kia says it plans to apply distinctive tones to future models of SUVs, compacts, midsize and large sedans and eco-friendly vehicles.
Said Ike Kwon, director of Kia's Global Brand Strategy Group, in a statement: "At Kia Motors we have been putting a tremendous effort into creating sonic branding with a unified signature sound that delivers Kia's distinctive brand identity to our customers. Now we are excited to introduce and share 'The Rise of Surprise' with our customers at various points of interaction with our company, its products and services, both inside and outside of our vehicles."
The use of signature sound as a branding device is a well-established method of creating what Kia calls an "emotional trigger" in the mind of consumers. One of the oldest and best-known examples would probably be the NBC three-note chime, first created for radio in 1929 and still occasionally used on television.
The digital age has given us a number of distinctive tones, including the Intel Inside five-note bong, Apple's Mac startup sounds, the Xbox 360 swoosh and the various MS Windows startup melodies, ranging from a cheery fanfare to the famous Windows 95 tune (interestingly, written by musician Brian Eno on a Mac) to the more recent Windows 8.1 version.
Edmunds says: Sounds like a good idea to us.