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Demystifying Sonic Branding And Identity - Annotated Version
We use the emotional power
of sound to position brands,
improve products and enliven
Insights from nature
Bernie Krause is an acoustician who has recorded over 3,500 hours of pristine environmental
audio. Among his ﬁndings: 1) No two places are alike. Each place on earth has its own sonic
ﬁngerprint, so to speak; 2) Every living organism also has its own unique acoustic
signature; 3) Human development forces more animals into fewer spaces—which means
there’s less space available in the sonic spectrum for mating and hunting purposes. It’s just too
noisy. Sadly, the animals and species that can’t adapt don’t survive.
Any parallels to the world of brand experience?
If this is a matter of “survival of the ﬁttest,” some brands are more ﬁt than
others—they use music and sound with intention to build ﬁnancial value.
But. We can’t use music and sound in innovative ways without ﬁrst asking the big questions.
What do we
The answer: suprisingly little. We know we like music! That’s about it...
So maybe the more helpful question is...
What don’t we
Sound is ubiquitous.
We hear thousands of sounds every day. Alarm clock. Kids. Coffee.
Shower. Bus. Car. Engine. Birds. Rain. And that’s in just the ﬁrst part
of our day. Sound is absolutely everywhere.
Sound shapes our
thoughts and actions.
Sound is a ﬁlter for what we think, say, do—and buy.
Researcher Adrian North ran a simple test to determine the effect of
music on consumer behavior. The test lab: a wine shop. On
alternating days, the shop played French music, then German music.
On French-music days, French wine outsold German wine 4:1. And on
German-music days, German wine outsold French wine 3:1.
Sound is emotion.
Sound goes directly to the emotional tripwire of the brain. Visuals,
tastes and smells have power, but at times nothing can amplify
emotion like music and sound. Case in point: Jaws. Chariots of Fire.
The gospel tent at Jazz Fest in New Orleans...
“Our neuroimaging studies
show amygdala activation
to music...repetition, when
done skillfully by a master
composer, is emotionally
satisfying to our brains,
and makes the listening
experience as pleasurable
as it is.”
“Music doesn’t represent
any tangible, earthly reality.
It represents things of the
heart, feelings which are
beyond description, beyond
any experience one has had.
The feeling of the holy, the
sacred, the wonderful, the
mystical...is conveyed very
powerfully in music.”
How can we leverage
the power of sound
for valuable brand
When properly deployed, music and sound also play the role
of a uniﬁer for brand experiences. Each of these brands have
ﬂexible (but iconic) compositions that scale across a number
of otherwise disparate touchpoints.
“We’re not advertising any
more...what we have increased
substantially is the
increase relevance, it sticks in
Larry Light, McDonald’s
Bonus: music and sound also play a key role in
engaging people—in drawing them into new experiences.
Illustrious Company: Sonic ID’s Martyn Ware and friend Vince Clarke—founders of
Human League, Heaven 17, Yazoo, Depeche Mode and Erasure—team to create
immersive, three-dimensional soundscapes for physical environments.
Their “heightened reality” product that allows them to direct the physical movements
of a composition—or any sound, really—anywhere in any environment.
This places people front and center of a unique and powerful sensory experience.
...Ware has used this to create the world’s largest soundﬁeld outside the Palacio de
Belles Artes in Mexico City. Exhibit was experienced by 100,000 people over 10 days.
The world’s largest ever 3D SonicImaging soundﬁeld - Sound Oasis
Esplanade de Belles Artes, Mexico City June 2006
More: an immersive, narrative soundscape exploring Shefﬁeld and its impact
on the world, featured at the 2006 Biennale in Venice.
The British Pavilion,
XX Venice Architectural Biennale Echo Cities
September - November 2006
Rome Reborn 1.0
Seven years in the making...
Every building in ancient Rome reconstructed and navigable
in three dimensions
University of Virginia collaboration with 3D soundscapes by lllustrious
Recreating the sound of the
Illustrious immersive sound
Colosseum using 3D concept
Breathing Trees - sound and light installation with Creatmosphere
Potter’s Field, South Bank, London February 2008
Recent installation: a permanent, three-dimensional soundscape in Workington.
The experience focuses on the past and future legacy of this city in transition.
Soundlife Of London - Leicester Square, London
Multisensory space for disabled children—incorporating
ﬁlm, light, sound and smell—that stimulates them
in new ways and adapts to each child’s preferences.
Sensory Theatre Environment Bath, England
for disabled/autistic children Opens 2008
Multisensory exhibit to help Kenzo launch its new male Fragance, Tokyo. The
soundscape captured the transformative, emotional energy of the city.
Immersive ‘5-sense’ branding experience Kenzo, Paris
Launch Kenzo’s new male fragrance ‘Tokyo’ May 2007
Historic-themed soundscape for Paris’s renowned Galeries
Lafayette—placing shoppers amidst the cultural vibrance of Paris past.
Core values come to life
• BP’s Helios awards
• Brand attributes as an anchor for BP’s sonic identity
• Palette as a guide for additional brand communications
Switching gears into
BP and HSBC’s ﬁrst direct...
GREEN HUMAN ENERGY INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP PERFORMANCE PROGRESSIVE
• UK’s ﬁrst direct bank (via phone)
• Passionate customer base
• Design research led the way
• Thematics created as a platform for brand-based audio
(Podcasts, advertising, web palettes, music on hold)
Brands live everywhere. (Obviously,
Comms they make noise everywhere.) Ringtones
TV Online Voice
Co-branded Experiential Sonic Functional
POS Retailer Buzz Music PDAs
collateral Marketing on hold
Training Electronic Demos
The future? We will...
1. Use sound as a forethought.
2. Use sound as a meaningful
articulation of our brands’ core values.
3. Use sound as a means of
4. Move beyond the ‘sound logo’ to
address multiple needs and markets.
5. We will (gasp!) standardize.
“Light and sound arguably
do at least as much as space,
form and texture to evoke an
emotional response to a
design... great design should
encompass all of this, so let's
give it more credence.”
Lynda Relph-Knight, Design Week
“Marketers that don't
understand the power of music
will simply be left behind.”
Mary Dillon, McDonald’s CMO