What Makes a Good Radio Jingle?

Good Radio Jingle

Many years ago, McDonald’s had a radio jingle about their Quarter Pounder sandwich. To say it was a phenomenal success is not an overstatement. To this day, many of us who grew up hearing it can still recite the ingredients by heart: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. There were even radio contests to see who could sing or say it the best and fastest. Since then, McDonald’s has added “I’m Lovin’ It” to the list of all-time most famous jingles, joining the timeless song, “I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Weiner.”  

There are many memorable jingles and many more that aren’t. So what makes one an earworm that you can’t get out of your head no matter how hard you try, and many more pass through your brain like water through a sieve? The answer to what makes a good radio jingle lies in psychology. Music makes a strong emotional connection with the listener, making your slogan and your brand memorable.  

The Purpose of a Radio Jingle  

It should go without saying that a jingle is designed to be memorable. They help customers remember an element of your business to encourage the desired action, but there’s more to it than that. The specific aspects of the jingle depend upon the result you seek. The purpose of any radio jingle can vary depending on your individual business’s goal.  

Jingles and slogans can be made to create brand awareness and keep your business top of mind. Each incorporates a product or service and mentions the brand name. They could have call-to-action elements built into them, such as informing people of websites or phone numbers, such as Empire’s famous “One Eight Hundred, Five Eight Eight, Two Three Hundred, Empiiiiiire!” And of course, there’s always the music. 

Effective Elements of a Radio Jingle  

Regardless of your marketing goals, the purpose of a jingle is to be remembered. You only have a limited amount of time to deliver your message, so you want to leave listeners with a lasting impression of who you are and what you have to offer.  

Several elements comprise a successful, memorable radio jingle, including: 

  • Simple and to the point – Sometimes, the simplest jingle is the one that is the most effective, such as McDonald’s “I’m Lovin It,” “Nationwide Is On Your Side,” or Nike’s “Just Do It.” 
  • Catchy and likely to get stuck in your head – A catchy jingle gets stuck in your head and replayed as an earworm, much like Band-Aid’s “stuck on Band-Aid” or Toys “R” Us “I don’t want to grow up.” If it is stuck in your head, you are going to remember it. 
  • Provides a clear, strong message – State Farm wanted people to know that they could depend upon their insurance to be there for home and business owners whenever it was needed and hit the mark with “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” A clear message leaves no doubt about who you are and what you do. 
  • Connect with audiences with positive emotional appeal – Connection can come through music or wording choices. One of the most iconic jingles has both, such as the message of hope in the 1971 Coca-Cola jingle that contains the message, “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” In this case, the emotional appeal was to envision peace and harmony during a time of war. 
  • Delivers a clear call to action – While short catchphrases can be very effective for brand awareness, using longer call-to-action jingles is highly effective at driving action, such as GEICO’s instruction to listeners that spending “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” It tells the listener what the brand’s selling point is and exactly what to do to reap the benefits. 

Creating a Jingle  

Aside from the standard elements of a jingle, you need to make sure you have quality production. Poor production or missed notes will turn off customers before they learn what the ad is for, leaving them with only a desire to change the station. High-quality production delivers effective, memorable results. What listeners hear as an effortlessly perfect jingle is a culmination of quality equipment and a talented team. 

Though there is a lot that goes into the musical process to create it, the return on investment of a successful jingle makes the cost entirely worth it. It can take a village to create a memorable and hopefully iconic jingle. Identifying and engaging the right people for each part of the process can feel overwhelming. An experienced marketing partner can help by leveraging their expertise to make sure your jingle is high quality and effective. 

Get Results with a Good Radio Jingle 

Radio jingles have been the background music of our lives. They can take us instantly back to our childhoods, causing us to remember the lyrics in their entirety or make us laugh out loud when we hear them again. The most effective ones are stuck in our heads years or even decades later. One thing they all have in common: we remember the brand.  

Those catchy phrases and music don’t happen by chance. They are a product of quality production, talented writers, musicians, and the right marketing partner. Jingles are highly effective when done well. Just remember to test and trial your jingle to make sure it isn’t memorable for the wrong reasons.  

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