I use the Brooklyn "Aaay!" Like Fonzie.
I use it only for them, and they have learned that sound means "Don't do that."
They can become quite sophisticated in distinguishing our sounds if we put in the effort to make them mean something. Just this morning I slept in, two hours past the time I usually feed them. Mr. Bond came and looked up at me, and I said, "Oh my. Look at the time."
Mr. Bond replied with his "mrrrm." Which is the sound he uses only for agreeing that it is, indeed, time to open cans. He knew what I meant, even though I hadn't used any words like "dinner" or "hungry."
Then there's Reverend Jim, the kitten, who knows full well I'm talking to him, but is pretending I don't mean it unless I get up.
I've found that cats can put in effort to please us, when we have a close affectionate bond. This is especially notable in Gamma cats like Puffy, who will be sleeping on his own, special pillow, and still look up for reassurance that he is supposed to be sleeping there. Which I give him. I can get Puffy to leave something alone with a shocked look.
More assertive cats will weigh their options.
I agree that punishment just makes the cat think we are being mean. They don't have any connection between what they are doing and us acting aggressively. We are just acting aggressively, so it is counterproductive. They may not avoid the thing, but they will certainly avoid us.
I try to think of it as them expressing a desire, and my task is to come up with a way to fulfill that desire which pleases both of us. They aren't allowed on the kitchen counters, but they are allowed on the little table by the window. So they have their perching spot, and I have my counters.
And I am not above bribes.