Report 2011

Report Audio Branding Congress 2011



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The third Audio Branding Congress took place in a full house at Columbia University New York City on November 17th. With this year’s motto “Stay Connected, Sound Global” the congress focused on new prospects of building brands on mobile devices by using sound. Highlighting the event was the distribution of the first Audio Branding Award, for which the audio consulting group was selected in creating the corporate sound of financial services company UBS.

The program commenced with an interesting presentation by keynote speaker Martyn Ware; producer of megastars like Tina Turner or Terence Trent D’Arby, as well as founding member of seminal bands “The Human League” and “Heaven 17”. He stressed the importance of intentional use of sound for brand communication, despite the infrequency of many companies in harnessing this potential. Supporting this theory were the results of a market survey, subsequently presented by the Audio Branding Academy, showing that 67 % of market players believe that audio branding will strongly evolve in the next 10 years.

Representatives of mobile industry heavyweights, such as Verizon, Nokia and RIM/Blackberry gave insightful and entertaining presentations on how music and sound can be used to enhance brand experience on mobile devices.
Stephen Dewey, creative director of audio branding agency Machine Head, used Verizon Droid as an example on how to successfully position a brand in the mobile industry. In remaking the iconic Nokia ringtone, Tapio Hakanen (head of sound design at Nokia) showcased the great success a brand can achieve with an exceptional social media campaign. Additionally, former VP of Brand Creativity at RIM/Blackberry Paul Kalbfleisch, explained to Congress attendees the importance of brand executives transforming into “managers of a dialogue”.

The following 6 brands were among the finalist for the Audio Branding Award 2011:
ING DiBa, the city of Vienna, Sabesp, SNCF, Airela, and UBS.
ING DiBa marketing manager Waltraud Niemann not only explained Dirk Nowitzki’s role as testimonial for the bank but also their audio strategy. Claudia Meinschad and Herwig Kusatz provided an inspiring presentation of the Vienna case – and they even danced to the typical Vienna sound.

Zanna showed how she used archetypes to derive the brand personality of Sabesp, and from there, derive its sound branding. Today, the SNCF sound is “the most famous sound identity in France”, Boumendil and Goris pointed out in their best case presentation.

Dytz, Tonetto and Lima showed how they established brand coherence at Airela through 3 domains: language, physicality, and emotion. In the last best case presentation, Wilbert Hirsch made clear how his team made sure that “wherever UBS is heard, it sounds like UBS”. The success of UBS’ sound branding was, among others, based on employee trainings and on making the sound identity available online.

The crowning glory of this year’s Congress was the first Audio Branding Award ceremony to ever take place.
The winner of the 2011 Audio Branding Award was determined by popular vote, submitted by Congress participants. Although a very close competition, Swiss financial company UBS won against French railway company SNCF by a very narrow margin. Wilbert Hirsch of Germany’s audio consulting group, who created the corporate sound of UBS, demonstrated in a convincing case that, “Wherever UBS is heard, it sounds like UBS”.

Congress host Alex Moulton of Expansion Team, said he “couldn’t have been happier with the diverse turnout from around the world.” He continued by saying, “I found the case study presentations to be really fascinating. Both established audio branding agencies and the newer ones are finding creative ways to innovate and better connect with consumers.”