At HanziHero, we assign each sound a mnemonic association. These mnemonic associations are later used in the mnemonics for characters. Those associations allow you to more easily recall that various sounds that are contained within a character.
We have an extensive article about Chinese character mnemonics that outlines our philosophy of mnemonics, and how they all fit together. If you are unfamiliar with our system, we recommend you first read that.
Each pinyin initial is associated with a person. This person is always fictional and typically chosen from the cartoons or stories many Americans have grown up with as kids. The person is usually chosen due to some sort of phonetic (or written) affinity to the initial in question.
For example, f- is associated with Frodo Baggins because they both begin with the letter “f”.
Each pinyin final is associated with a setting. These settings are usually chosen due to some sort of phonetic (or written) affinity to the final in question.
For example, -ao is associated with a barn setting, because “cow” sounds sort of like -ao .
Each pinyin tone is associated with a location. A location represents a certain space within any given setting.
For example, the first tone is arbitrarily associated with the front of the entrance to a location.