(Conference took place back in 2007 but it is still interesting. Copy-pasted from here.)
The PDA once again put together a stimulating congress, this time based on the theme of sound branding. Many of the speakers and participants believed this to be the first congress heard of in Europe that focused on this exciting new branding area.
The congress was chaired by Rowland Heming of Mildberry-Pineapple Brussels and delegates were welcomed by the current President of the PDA – Fabrizio Bernasconi.
Stéphane Pigeon from CreativeSonics (now with Audible Brands) gave a detailed introduction into Sound branding:
Staring with the image of a fish, Stéphane explained how long ago creatures had eyes on the side of their head allowing them to see all around, and that as evolution changed species to bring eyes to the front, hearing became more and more essential to survival. Hearing, he proposed, is constantly active and goes directly to the emotional system, whereas vision needs rest.
Stéphane’s introduction to sound branding began by analysing three basic audio concepts: Frequency, Tone and Melody;
To explain frequency a sound was played starting at 70 hertz moving up to 10,000 hertz. Lower ranges may be considered ‘warm’ sounds whereas the higher frequencies are felt to be ‘cold’ sounds. This was then explained through images and sounds allowing the audience to understand the phenomena.
As any colour can be achieved through mixing the colours of the rainbow, so too can frequencies be mixed to achieve any tone (or sound colour). Using many audio examples, Stéphane explained how not all tones are pleasing to the ear and how some tones are ‘pitched’. These ‘pitched’ sounds can be used to play melodies.
The way these ‘pitched’ sounds are arranged in time can also add to the emotional response. In music some basic rules apply; The minor scale can be mournful, the major scale can be joyful and by using different rhythmic patterns different effects can be achieved. In this way, tone becomes as important as melody and rhythm.
When the human ear hears a sound, it creates different effects on the brain. It can be a trigger to action; it can create associations and create an audio environment. Therefore, by associating a sound with a brand, sound can be used as a trigger to action or association.
In an overview Stéphane proposed that audio branding has 4 requirements, 3 dimensions, 2 technical challenges and 1 legal challenge:
Requirements: Audio branding should be;
- Recognisable (Unique)
The first two of these statements being the responsibility of the designer, the following two being the responsibility of the marketer.
The three dimensions are Tone, Melody and Rhythm. Each plays their part in creating memorability – explained by the use of a number of audio examples.
The advantages of a tonal signature are that, it can be intuitive, can happen naturally and can become a brand’s fingerprint. The drawbacks being that tonal signatures can be difficult to remember as they can’t be sung. The challenge for the sound designer is therefore to try to associate an everyday sound to the brand – For example Colgate have registered the sound of brushing teeth.
The advantages of creating a melodic signature is that it can be remembered (sung), it can describe the brand’s name and it is sound independent, allowing for variations to be created. The drawbacks being that there is a limit to the number of melodies that can be created (and registered), and there is always the risk if being challenged by authors of existing works.
Rhythm has the advantage of audibility, but it can be more abstract than tone or melody making it also more difficult to remember. This makes it a real challenge to create rhythm work as a sound brand.
The technical challenges to sound branding involve the dynamic level and the frequency optimisation. The difficulty being, the technical challenges involved in managing a branding work across many mediums and many media with different frequency criteria. For example working above an ambient noise or in a relatively restricted frequency band-width like a telephone line.
The legal challenges to sound branding are formidable. On the 27th November 2003 the European Court of Justice decreed that to register a sound brand there should be a graphical representation of the sound. The sound would have to be graphically represented and be “clear, precise, self contained, easily assessable, intelligible, durable and objective”. This means only musical scores are acceptable as self-contained representations of the sound brand (although this is technically not true as notes written on paper can be interpreted in many different ways). Therefore, where possible, sound branding should use musical scores as a way to ensure registration of a brand and where possible also use music in the public domain (free of copyright), to avoid legal challenges.
Stéphane concluded by analysing and creating the logo of the PDA.”
Click here to see and listen to the brands in the portfolio, it is fascinating stuff!