ICT – The Sounds of Costa Rica
BETTER SOUND 2019 | Category: 4.2 Audio Branding
Publimark Mullen Lowe
In 2018, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) began creating a new brand identity based on tourist visits to the country. That identity centered on an all-embracing experience represented by the letter “C” in the ICT’s new visual logo. To add a musical element consistent with the graphic’s identity, we created a mnemonic using the circle of fifths.
Costa Rica is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It is known for its nature and biodiversity as well as the warmth of its people. Additionally, the tourism industry is one of the economy’s most significant driving forces, accounting for more than 6.4% of the country’s GDP.
Many of these achievements can be attributed to the commitment of the ICT, the government agency responsible for promoting new opportunities for the development of a sustainable tourism model.
In recent years, the institution has pursued organizational changes to reinforce its competitiveness and maintain its position in the international market. However, one challenge was the lack of a strong brand identity to reflect this purpose to the world.
In 2018, the ad agency Publimark Mullen Lowe was commissioned to redesign the ICT’s visual logo and to create new audio branding to help boost tourism as a vital force for the country’s development. The three fundamental pillars to building this new identity were the dynamic, immersive and diverse characteristics of Costa Rican tourism.
To achieve this, we needed to understand how tourists perceive our country when they visit, as ICT wanted to reflect Costa Rica’s image as its own. We discovered that most travelers describe their experience as a multisensory event, in which they feel surrounded not only by the beauty of the landscape but also by the vastness of the sounds, including the rain, birds, insects, waterfalls, rivers, oceans, and monkeys.
We started by creating a bold and rounded mnemonic using the first six notes (C-G-D-A-E-B) in the circle of fifths, a common diagram used in music theory. This formed a perfect musical complement for the letter “C” in the new visual logo and is a sonic representation of how visitors feel enveloped or embraced by Costa Rica.
We recorded multiple instruments to create a distinctive sonic universe, including the marimba, quijongo (a type of musical bow), tuba, ocarinas, and drums. We also recorded numerous soundscapes in the field using a binaural microphone to enhance the sense of immersion.
Finally, we composed the brand theme, a musical journey that merges our local timbres with our mnemonic. The result is a musical DNA that projects to potential tourists the exciting experience of visiting Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican Tourism Board now has a consistent and coherent visual and sound identity that works in perfect harmony with the brand’s purpose. This synergy can be used strategically in advertising, media, international tourism fairs, conferences, and government events, among others.
This project aims to position our brand and our country in the global tourist’s mind and to attract more visitors each year. The new ICT audio branding is an invitation to be embraced by Costa Rica.