A jingle is a short musical piece written to promote a specific product or service. Jingles are not particularly complex, with the emphasis being on how effectively the chosen words convey the message of the jingle. Writing a jingle isn't difficult; the key to writing an effective jingle is developing a concept and a simple, memorable melody listeners will associate with the lyrics to the jingle, and as a result, the product or service itself.
Write down what you know about the product you're writing a jingle about. Since the purpose of a jingle is to introduce listeners to a product and to tell them why they should use it, the more you know about the product, the better your ability to come up with the words that will accomplish this. Use your notes to brainstorm ideas. Make a list of words that you feel best describe the product and its purpose. Let the product suggest your ideas. By starting with a solid knowledge of the product you’re writing about, you will gather enough information to begin sparking ideas you can work your way through.
Write lyrics on a sheet of paper. The lyrics should be clearly relate to the product or service you're writing the jingle about. For instance, if you're writing a jingle about stopping by a convenience store, you may write a lyric like this:
Gas up, eats and everything you need The One Stop Shop is the place to be Hot dogs, soda and nachos too The One Stop Shop has everything for you.
Incorporate a little humor or even word play in your jingle to make it entertaining. Make the lines rhyme to make the song more memorable.
Determine the tone you want for the music you will write. The music to the jingle should be appropriate to the product. You won’t write upbeat music for a jingle about auto accident insurance, but you would write something upbeat for a child’s toy. Whether you are humming your jingle, singing it or writing with an instrument, choose a musical tone that complements your product appropriately.
Write the chords for your jingle over the lyrics. Use a guitar or keyboard and strum variations on rhythm and chord progressions until you find the right tempo and tone for your jingle. Sing along as you try these variations. Listen for something catchy. If it sticks out or if you find yourself humming it, write it down. This is the foundation of a good jingle.
Record your jingle. Listen to it and have others listen to it. Determine any changes that might need to be made to the tune to make it easier to hum or to remember the words. Ask yourself if the tune is simple enough. A jingle should not require a lot of thought by listeners. A tune that sticks in your audience's head and they find themselves singing or humming is your goal.
Repeat the name of the product or service as often as you can without destroying the flow of the jingle. Use rhyme and repetition to stress the message.
Let your ear be your guide. No one can tell you how to be creative. Simply listen to your finished jingle and ask yourself if it does the product justice. Ask yourself if you would remember the product through the jingle. If you can’t answer these questions with a yes, then go back to the drawing board and try again. Creating is a process.
Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.