Archive for the ‘Audio Brand Profiles’ Category

Marketing Mavericks of Audio Branding is a series of interviews that we hope will show you how global businesses are using sound to strengthen their brand.

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Interview with Tapio Hakanen from Nokia

Tapio Hakanen is an award winning sound designer and chart topping electronic music producer from Finland. Currently, he heads up Nokia‘s global sound design and visual content teams. Tapio is responsible for digital content like ringtones, preloaded music tracks, wallpapers and preloaded videos in all Nokia devices. His role also involves overseeing Nokia’s audio identity and music and sound design for various Nokia ads, communications and events like Nokia World and Mobile World Congress.

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Given the fact that sound travels faster than 700 mph and is processed quicker than light, at TreBrand we believe that sound can make a difference in the world. We also believe there is a balance that needs to be struck between creativity and strategy. To that end, audio branding is our way of helping brands think critically and use the power of sound to build brand equity.

With that in mind, our founder and chief noisemaker Jordan Stevens set off to find businesses and professionals who use sound as a key element in building their brand. Of course he couldn’t stop at just finding the companies and the people who run them, he had to learn more. In the coming weeks, we’ll feature interviews he had with the marketing mavericks who were kind enough to share their insights on how they use sound in their business.

We hope that by sharing this information you’ll understand the true power of sound and how you can apply it to your business. And hopefully, you’ll help the world sound better one brand at a time.

A special thanks goes out to everyone who shared their insights with us so freely. We appreciate your candid conversations and visions of how the world sounds.

Without any further ado, here is the first interview in our series called Marketing Mavericks of Audio Branding.

Interview with Tom Trones, Cisco Sytems

Cisco Systems is the a worldwide leader in networking and communication technology. Headquartered in San Jose, California, Cisco is home to over to over 65,000 employees globally and serves a wide variety of markets through many innovative products.

Today, I’m talking with Tom Trones who is an audio identity lead for one of Cisco’s business units. His role makes him responsible for how a Cisco product sounds across a multitude of channels and product lines. He ensures that all Cisco products sound like a Cisco product. Tom will also be a speaker at this year’s Audio Branding Congress in Moscow.

Jordan Stevens (JS): Tell me a bit about your role at Cisco Systems?

Tom Trones (TT): I was originally hired as an acoustics, software and signal processing engineer for our video conferencing systems but an opportunity to unify the audio identity for our collaboration products opened up. I think the mix between technology and artistic creativity is perfect for me, and my background as a musician, composer and producer led me to becoming the Audio Identity Lead for this business unit. We have a wide portfolio of products in telepresence systems, UC, IM clients, IP phones, Webex and more, so it is important that the user can jump from one to the other and still get a common experience of using a Cisco product.

This is perfect for me, as I can leverage my background as an engineer, musician and music technologist. Last year we made the call to keep the strategy development and production internally. We now have music and sound production facilities at the Lysaker, Norway site.

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A while back I posted an article on what an audio mnemonic is (or as some might call it, an audio logo). Today I wanted to share with you a great example from a recent Coca-Cola spot that effectively uses their sonic logo melody throughout the ad.

Coke has always, for as long as I’ve known, been involved in creating a brand around music. One of the key features and most recognizable parts of any audio identity is the audio logo. Before you read on, have a listen to Coke’s audio logo first.

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You might remember the days spent at summer camp as being some of the most fun you’ve ever had. You developed skills you didn’t think you had and met some pretty cool people. However, some of these memories fade during the year when you’re not at camp.

Companies that have an extremly seasonal sales cycle, like football teams, golf stores, and mountain biking suppliers, all have the same challenge of keeping customers engaged during the off season. There are a few ways to do this, but we’ve found one camp in Connecticut is using audio branding to keep the memories alive.

Buck's Rock Gong

Buck’s Rock Gong

Buck’s Rock Creative and Performing Arts Camp is a unique place where campers get a chance to learn all sorts of creative skills, like acting, graphic design, and glass blowing. The camp has many rituals including putting on two fully produced musicals and trips off campus to see the Boston Pops.

As a former music counsellor at the camp, one of the memories I have is the hearing the sound of the camp gong. The camp gong isn’t an ordanary gong as it’s shaped like a giant cooper ring (see picture).

The gong itself is used to signal the time for certain events, like meals and put-to-bed time. On a typical day, you would hear the gong five or six times. As you can imagine, it gets burned into your mind as a camper or staff member.

The leaders at Buck’s Rock decided to take the sound of the gong and create a ringtone for anyone to download. Once you download the sound to your phone, everytime you get a call you will be reminded of camp.

Because of its functionaliy, developing a ringtone creates a way for memories to extend into the rest of the year. As long as you have good memories of the place associated with the sound, this will cause you to want to go again or share your experience. What more in case, the sound of the gong is so unique that I wouldn’t be surprised if people started asking you what that sound was, further extending the marketing reach of this audio brand asset to new people.

Overall, this approach fits our criteria for a great audio brand. So, good on you Buck’s Rock for taking the audio branding route!

Just recently, Coca-Cola released its 2014 FIFA World Cup anthem. They have always used music as a part of their overall strategy and in doing so they have created some memorable ads, but creating an anthem has become an expected part of their marketing plan at worldwide events as you’ll see in a minute.

Famous Coca-Cola advertisment

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Over the years, Canada has produced some pretty good beer. Many of these breweries have built an impressive brand. Some have gone international and others have stayed local.

In recent days, London welcomed a new player to the game – Forked River Brewing. Their design agency Honey Design has done a wonderful job on their visual identity and we expect great things from them in the future.

Looking at another local brewery, Steam Whistle Brewing (Toronto), we see another great brand who’s really found a place in the market. I wanted to feature them here as they’ve also done a great job in creating an audio brand.

First, they’ve captured the origins of the company’s headquarters, which was originally a roundhouse for trains to switch directions, in it’s audio logo of a train steam whistle. This creates a natural congruency to their brand. As we’ve talked about in the past, this is vital to building a strong audio identity.

The next thing that Steam Whistle did was leverage this sound in other areas of their business. For example, when you call up the company to book a tour you’ll be greeted with the Steam Whistle audio logo. As well, at the end of the tour you’ll have a change to turn on a real steam whistle in the brewery – neat!

Steam Whistle has also developed their sound even further as you’ll hear in the commercial below.

Again, this commercial shows the commitment that they have to consistency and building trust through congruent sounds. This has helped Steam Whistle expand outside of Ontario and to the West coast of Canada. I suspect with their approach to marketing we’ll see them grow futher and show the world what good beer and brands are all about.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about BMW getting a new audio logo for its worldwide brand. We’ve also looked at the history of the NBC Chimes in the past as well. To help you understand one of the important aspects of audio branding, which is flexiblity, we’re going to profile a few more brands over the next little while.

Today let’s look at Audi.

Audi, for a long time, has been strong in the area of sound. They invest quite a lot of resources to make sure their cars and advertisments have the perfect sound. This video is a testiment to the Audi audio brand.

One thing that you’ll notice is that they have identified a sound profile for their brand. In it they specify what sounds are part of the Audio brand (piano, heartbeat, etc.). They also have a rigorous selection process for voice actors for their voice mail boxes and advertisments.

As you look at the next video, which shows each of the Audi audio logos from past to present, you’ll notice some common sounds between each.

What’s impressive is that the sounds that were selected have a lasting appeal but are flexible enough to change with the times. This is particularly true for the heartbeat sound. As humans we’ll always be attracted to the sound of the heart (mom played it to us for 9 months).

Thinking of your own brand you must select sounds that will fit your brand over a long period of time. What sounds do you associate with your brand? If your company was a song what soung would it be? Dig deep and see what you come up with. Feel free to tell us your answers in the comments below.

It’s only been in the last decade or so that the big three German automobile manufactures have invested in audio branding. We’ve spoke on the Audi sound design and featured the Mercedes Benz audio logo in the past, but lets take a look at BMW.

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The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) has been around for years and many evolutions have gone by. From radio, to TV and now web broadcasting. What I find interesting about NBC is that they have one of the most distinctive audio logos compared to any of the major broadcasting companies. Read on »


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