a sound identity is an innovative way to reinforce the consistency of your message by complementing and strengthening a brand identity.

What is sound identity?

Sound identity is a short melodic fragment, with or without lyrics, that is used to help people identify with a particular organisation.  With increased technical innovation, companies now use sound identity to create and enhance their corporate image.

What are the benefits of integrating sound into an existing brand identity?

A sound identity adds a new dimension of recognition to your product and services to build brand loyalty and gain a distinct competitive advantage.


Building Brand Value Through the Strategic Use of Sound
by Noel FranusApril 26, 2007

Most organizations have relied almost exclusively on the sense of sight to communicate who they are, what they do and why they matter. Pirates have their unmistakable skull-and-bones flag. Nearly all religions have their own unique symbol. And today, practically every brand on earth has its own visual identity. Other senses are rarely part of the equation.

Yet sound has unquestionable potential in creating impressions. Consider the sonic snippets in your life—imagine Chariots of Fire or Rocky without music, a PC commercial without that Intel Inside bongggg, or a Harley-Davidson hog without its expertly calibrated tone. Sound triggers recall and reactions. And much like good visual or industrial design, it also has the ability to convey value and strengthen brand reputations.

Forward-thinking brands are catching on. In this first of a two-part series based on my co-presentation at the “Gain” conference last October, we introduce the practice of audio branding and identity – the intentional use of music, sound and voice to create a connection between people and organizations. And in part two, we will dig deeper with a real-world, case-study look at the recently created audio identity for Sun Microsystems and its ubiquitous Java brand.

Our everyday response to sound

Sound has an immediate, direct link to both the rational and emotional parts of our brain. The sound of a screaming baby will raise your hackles in no time. On the other hand, the sound of a gentle stream or windswept field is more of a feeling—one that’s calm and soothing, perhaps even therapeutic.

None of this is news until you consider the cumulative effect. We’re exposed to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of sounds each day. Our brains sift through all of them, selecting those that deserve a response—usually those that are linked to a benefit or are vital to our survival. Many direct our feelings, thoughts, actions and speech. Sound acts as a filter through which we experience and understand our world.

For those of us in the business of designing brands—the practice of engineering perceptions—our opportunity is to link brands and benefits through the intentional use of music, sound, voice and silence.

Strategic audio in retail and beyond

Many retailers already leverage music as a selling tool. In 1998, Adrian North, David Hargreaves and Jennifer McKendrick ran a test in a British wine shop to determine the role of background music in purchase decisions. For a number of days they piped in French and German music, alternating between the two. The results: on French-music days, the French wine outsold the German wine by a ratio of four to one. On German-music days, German wine outsold the French by a ratio of three to one.

The same team also discovered that customers are likely to tolerate long waiting times (both on the phone and in the real world), if and when the hold/background music is enjoyable and fits our expectations.i

Muzak anchors its business on retail sound. Decades ago, the North Carolina company served up gentle tones to quell the fears of people riding elevators in early skyscrapers (hence the term “elevator music”). Now Muzak is a leading supplier of licensed music in retail spaces, and brand is their primary value-add. The firm’s “audio architects” design playlists to achieve two effects: first, the music mix must match a retailer’s brand personality; and second, the songs, segues and cumulative feel must provide a specific, intentional energy level for the environment. (Peppy people stick around and spend more.)

Music can also work wonders in advertising: McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” audio logo is recognizable by a whopping 93 percent of the people exposed to it.ii  It’s also the cornerstone of a global campaign that has seen a significant increase in sales since the campaign’s inception. “We’re not advertising more,” says Larry Light, McDonald’s global marketing officer behind the effort. “What we have increased substantially is the effectiveness of the advertising…when you increase relevance, it sticks in people's minds.”iii

While music certainly has a role in moving the sales meter, there’s more to the story. Just as the color of your hair doesn’t define you as a person, music doesn’t define an entire brand. Audio identity takes into account the totality of a company’s sounds—from the promotional to the functional—and offers a systemic (rather than subjective) approach that ensures brands are perceived the way companies intend them to be perceived.

You might expect advertising agencies and marketing departments—not industrial-design or product development groups—to take the lead in audio branding. While there’s an obvious fit between advertising and sound, not all companies have the marketing prowess of a McDonald’s. And not all depend on advertising to grow relationships with customers; in many cases it’s the products themselves that define a person’s relationship with a company. That’s where software, industrial design and other roles come into play. Companies that extend their audio identity to products, services and promotions have more ways to grow brand value.iv  The opportunity is there, and for most large companies (who already spend between $1 million and $20 million on sound) it’s ringing clear as a bell.

Building an audio identity

Most companies take one of two approaches to building an audio identity. The first is promotional audio branding, which aims to connect existing dots—to brand the sound, usually with a sonic logo or brand-identifier of some sort, everywhere a company communicates.

For example, if you’re advertising via traditional or experiential means, if you’re connecting with customers in events or retail spaces, or even if your company has a toll-free phone number, you’re already projecting an audio brand. Each touchpoint strengthens or weakens perceptions of your company.

Famous examples of promotional audio branding include NBC’s three-tone chimes, AOL’s “You’ve got mail,” or United Airlines’ adoption of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” as its corporate theme.

This is the outside layer of the onion and thus the easiest to peel. Though promotional audio branding only scratches the surface, it’s the least complicated to define and implementation is a relative snap. Plus, it works in sneaky ways that visuals can’t – people don’t need to pay attention to notice it.

The second approach is actionable audio branding, which makes the most of psychoacoustics—linking sound to the brain—to affect our emotions and change our behaviors. Well-designed, behavior-based audio branding is a critical part of the experience that we have with everyday products and environments—from computers to cell phones, from ATMs to busy public spaces. If not carefully orchestrated, then unfettered sound becomes irrelevant clutter in the mind of consumers.

Muzak’s service, designed to increase customer spending in retail spaces, is more an act of experience design than simply spinning records. They’re influencing behaviors. Same with the London Underground train’s “Mind the gap” voice alert—first and foremost it’s a safety warning, but it’s also a regional catchphrase and a popular retail franchise.

Designers for the Ford Mustang sought to create a visceral high when they recently redesigned the legendary car. The new Mustang’s front grill was tailored to emulate Steve McQueen’s cool-as-ice stare in the film Bullitt (in which McQueen drove a ’68 Mustang). Nearly 40 years later, Ford digitized the Bullitt soundtrack and tuned the Mustang’s exhaust system to precisely match that of the sound of McQueen’s machine as heard in the film.

Technology brands have a vast opportunity to build their brand through the use of sound. Unfortunately, most fall flat. Windows Vista, for instance, features a thoughtful set of interface sounds, but none of them are linked to the brand or other Microsoft products. To their credit, however, it has avoided a mistake that many electronics companies don’t: the system isn’t overloaded with careless or intrusive bleeps and blips. (Rule number one: brilliant sound design can never compensate for an otherwise poor user experience.)

Although actionable audio branding is more challenging than promotional branding, the rewards can be substantial, as it can cover nearly all aspects of a customer’s experience with a company. If your goal is to improve brand perceptions where the rubber hits the road, then the returns are real and the work is measurable.

Transformative audio branding
There’s another way to use audio as an influential extension of the brand, and it doesn’t involve the use of audio assets or sonic compositions to reinforce the brand. Transformative audio branding is a matter of reframing the entire business, using the lens of sound to drive innovation and seed new products that can result in new revenue streams and even new markets.

Take the well-known case of Apple—a once-confused (think 1996) computer-commodity company, which has become a household name, a category maker, a market leader and an iconic brand, thanks to the success of its iPod and iTunes music store. This success would have been hard to imagine 10 years ago, but Apple’s ability to properly harness our passion for music has transformed its business into one that all its competitors hope to emulate.

Starbucks is another one: where’s the role for music in a company that we once thought of as just a coffee business? Starbucks’ carefully crafted Hear Music brand (now playing at a Starbucks, iTunes store or XM satellite receiver near you) has changed our view of the company. Starbucks has morphed from a coffee brand to a trusted source of creative influence. Their success with Hear Music has fueled their expansion into books and movies. That’s a long way from providing a simple cup of joe.

Good sound is good business
There is no “Come to audio” moment. Neither Steve Jobs nor Howard Schultz woke up one day and simply decided to change their businesses based on a newfound passion for sound. Innovation is never that simple. But both companies have shown that at least one clear path to people’s hearts, minds and wallets is through their earbuds. Whatever comes next for tomorrow’s category-makers may very well follow suit. (Did someone say iPhone?)

Not all big companies are interested in, or capable of, innovating on a world-class scale. But many do, at the very least, want to be closer to the cutting edge than their competitors. And just about all companies, brand groups and product groups are keen on the idea of better leveraging their current investments. In this case they’re already spending millions on their sonic communications, and a strategic approach to audio can provide the economic value that’s otherwise missing.

List of references:
iNorth, Hargreaves and McKendrick, “Music and on-hold waiting time,” The British Journal of Psychology 90, Fall 1999; North and Hargreaves, “The effects of musical complexity and silence on waiting time,” Environment and Behavior 31, January 1999.
iiAudio Branding Research Wave 1. SonicBrand UK, 2005.
iiiNation’s Restaurant News, April 11, 2005
ivBrand Sense study, Martin Lindstrom, 2005

About the Author: Noel Franus is director of strategy at Elias Arts and a former brand strategist with Sun Microsystems. Elias Arts has produced audio identities for MTV, Yahoo!, Orange, Columbia Pictures and many others. Noel spoke about audio identity at “Gain: AIGA Business and Design Conference” in October 2006, and he writes regularly about audio branding at intentionalaudio.com/blog.

[ 本帖最后由 juliette 于 2007-7-9 11:27 编辑 ]



Sound Value: Creating an Audio Identity for Cisc

by Noel FranusMarch 21, 2008

This is the second of a two-part series exploring the practice of audio branding—the use of music, sound, voice and silence to create a connection between people and organizations. In part one, author Noel Franus provided an overview of audio branding and identity as a practice. Here, in part two, he offers a deeper look with a case study of Cisco and the creation of its audio identity, developed in conjunction with Elias Arts, where Franus was director of strategy during the project.

Most videoconferencing systems leave a lot to be desired: voice lag, indirect eye contact and cumbersome interfaces can leave participants feeling like they’re stuck in an endless series of jump-cuts with colleagues on Mars.

TelePresence jumbo screens.
Cisco’s TelePresence is a very different, and most would say, better experience; not only do its jumbo-sized screens and strategically placed microphones make conversation seem natural for parties on both ends of the conference, but starting a TelePresence meeting is remarkably simple: push one button and your conference begins.

If you’re using TelePresence, you’re made aware of that graceful, time-saving moment because of the product’s sensory feedback; today, that’s a visual prompt, right there on the screen. Soon, the TelePresence ready-prompt will be reinforced with a brand-based audio cue. In this case, the sights and sounds will act in dual roles—those of experiential communicator (i.e., “you’re ready to go”) and brand identifier (to indicate this is a Cisco product). Although visuals have reinforced brands for ages, branded, functionally appropriate audio is relatively unexplored terrain.

Cisco’s logo says audio.
Sound design in products is certainly nothing new. And in one sense, this incremental improvement is just a small adjustment of the audio interface. But Cisco sees this as just one leaf in a much larger forest. The global technology company is building its first brand-based audio identity system—an intentional effort to use Cisco’s signature sound as a means of communicating its brand across multiple touchpoints in ways that visuals cannot or do not.

A vast opportunity
Like most Top-50 BusinessWeek/Interbrand–ranked firms, Cisco communicates in traditional and interactive media: television, events, software, web, videos, podcasts, etc. One of the things that make Cisco unique, however, is its ubiquity; it’s the service provider behind millions of teleconferencing sessions daily. The company has an installed base of 10 million IP phones (and growing) in homes and offices worldwide. Add its WebEx and Linksys offerings, and you sense the entirety of the Cisco brand—and the opportunity for brand-based audio assets to support it.

What those assets will achieve is something that every brand-focused organization appreciates. “The Cisco audio identity increases brand linkage and adds emotional depth across these touchpoints,” says Monique Mulbry, Cisco’s senior director of brand strategy and identity. “This is a tool for reinforcing that the technology you are interfacing with is Cisco technology, especially among our core customers and end users.”

What does a brand sound like?
“What does your brand sound like?” is one of those questions that leave most of us scratching our heads, simultaneously dazed and intrigued. “How would I be able to judge that,” you might wonder.

The most tempting route to answering this might be to look in your own music library to check out what’s cool. It’s also a mistake. As much as you dig U2, Bob Dylan or Coldplay, your company or client hopes you know the difference between your personal taste and the needs of the brand.

Cisco, fortunately, knows very well what it is, what it does and why it matters: Cisco brings people and technology together to enable the human network. There’s no gray area with the brand—everyone inside the organization is clear on the company and its values.

This clarity of vision helped our Cisco and Elias Arts team focus on the next challenge of defining what the Cisco brand sounds like. And that’s a challenge that must be defined by strategy. In this case, the strategy leveraged the following exercises, among others:

Competitive audits. You’d be surprised by how many brands sound alike when you just sit back and listen. Our research, covering a number of competitors and like-minded brands across multiple touchpoints, helped us understand not only what other brands sound like but what they feel like, as well. Music and sound create emotional equity for brands, after all, and it’s in Cisco’s best interest to sound and feel as unique as it is, with no overlap from other brands.
Stakeholder interviews. We interviewed dozens of senior-level executives from all parts of the company. This was critical in understanding the nuances of how the brand communicates in the marketplace and how it is received by its customers and partners. This is also a key step in growing interest and collaboration—two essential ingredients in growing a successful brand initiative in a large organization.
Employee involvement. Collaboration is part of Cisco’s DNA, so it was only natural that it involved thousands of employees, via intranet, in soliciting ideas on the Cisco audio identity. This was a brilliant move—it created an early understanding and awareness of the forthcoming audio identity system. Bonus: hundreds of employees submitted their own audio-sample-suggestions, which played a large role in the creative process that followed.
The final piece of the strategy puzzle involved plotting the conceptual direction of Cisco’s sound. Elias Arts developed audio moodboards to serve as a compass.

Audio moodboards are similar to moodboards used in concepting a visual identity. For this project, the Elias team pulled a number of songs and sounds to help Cisco collaborators zero in on (at least on a conceptual level) what Cisco would sound like.

Judging moodboards can be tricky; sure, you need to like what you hear, but more importantly, it has to work for the brand. It’s critical that each reviewer keep brand values and prior findings top of mind when judging the audio clips that are heard in a moodboard review.

Those clips that survived our reviews and refinements are those that point the way for the original compositions to come—and eventually everything audio that represents Cisco.

Compositions and implementation
With the moodboards complete, the next step was to create original, proprietary compositions that reflect both the sound and the spirit of the moodboards.

Cisco’s specific need (that would emerge from the original compositions) was a short, proprietary identifier—a signature, in this case—that identifies the brand in melody, rhythm and timbre across many of the company’s touchpoints.

While this may seem process-heavy, the alternative is to wing it with a cheap keyboard and a copy of Apple’s GarageBand. That’s a risk no serious brand can afford. Here’s why:

Scalability. These compositions will influence many touchpoints. They need to be created in a way that scales for a multitude of media and contexts. Says Gary McCavitt, creative director for Cisco: “We should be able to scale our audio identity as a derivative, when appropriate, to work intentionally wherever it’s heard.”
Adaptability. These compositions, or sibling versions of them, will live for years. They need to be flexible enough to evolve gracefully as brands, sub-brands and business units change.
Objectivity. Without a process, creative decisions can be left to personal taste, when the brand’s values are what matter most.
Elias Arts’ composers created a number of original compositions that reflected both the strategy and the moodboards; as a team Cisco and Elias Arts honed in on selections that aligned closely to Cisco’s values and attributes, and a collection of assets were blessed—with the Cisco signature approved by CEO John Chambers.

The final steps in launching Cisco’s audio identity are implementation and optimization, starting with the creation and internal publishing of Cisco’s usage guidelines, and continuing with brand training and evangelization.

Audio identity as a system, not a program
The wheels for this audio identity are in motion and a number of touchpoints—television advertising, online video, events and products—are now in play. But it’s important to acknowledge that the real brand value is created when the identity is leveraged as a system rather than a collection of scattered, individual parts or nifty sounds that come and go with a campaign or temporary brand program. This has been Cisco’s vision from the start, and it has been exciting to watch it grow.

About the Author: Noel Franus is director of strategy for Sonic ID and former director of strategy at Elias Arts. Noel spoke about audio identity at the 2006 “Gain: AIGA Business and Design Conference,” and he writes regularly about audio branding and identity at intentionalaudio.com/blog.

http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/ ... -identity-for-cisco


Case Study: Creating an Audio Identity for Cisco
March 21st, 2008 | Category: Grab bag, Music, Reference, Sound

I’ve written another sonic branding / audio identity feature for the AIGA: “Sound Value: Creating an Audio Identity for Cisco.” It’s a case study, so there’s a bit more meat in it than some of the introductory pieces I’ve offered in the past.

I’m excited. As part of the vendor team, it’s clear to me that Cisco has some tremendous opportunities to leverage sound in ways that few companies can.

The creation of a systemic plan that accommodates Cisco and its wide brand portfolio — including Linksys, WebEx, Scientific Atlanta — means Cisco understands their opportunity isn’t to thoughtlessly infest our world with sonic logos, noisy ads and cute ringtones, but to increase brand linkage and emotional depth across these touchpoints in ways that visuals cannot or do not.

Looking forward to hearing this evolve.

– Noel Franus



well, this website, actually, a blog have something about