Since the Intel benchmark, we are in many ways even more aware of the power and potential contained within an effective Audio Mnemonic, although with this thought in mind, I feel we should also be a little careful – because as much as an Audio Logo can help to develop, consolidate and strengthen a brand – it can also harm or have a detrimental effect. So it’s important to keep in mind, that if one of your goals or intentions is to create a memorable or recognizable audio mnemonic, the traditional 3, 4 or 5 note musical logo may be the right solution but it may well not be the right audio solution, although the goal is indeed a device to create ongoing recognition and the hook factor! It occurred to me recently – just how distinctive can you be these days? . . and in this ever-expanding soundscape of ding ding ding dongs!
We often see and hear an a lot of brand and channel logo designs that utilize a minimalist 3, 4 or 5 note musical hook and it would seem that the intention is to be as recognizable and appealing as the Intel audio logo. But in our experience, we have found that it’s a little more complicated than that. First of all there is a determined and heavily backed up effort to have the Intel logo featured in so many of it’s partners commercials, Intel pays its distributors roughly 350 million dollars a year to have their sonic branding design included – and secondly this audio logo fits the brands values perfectly. It’s a perfect little audio mnemonic, in the sense that it conveys the key values of Intel very effectively . . . The other important factor in the success of this audio mnemonic can also in some way be linked to the very strict guidelines that are applied and adhered to in relation the terms of it’s usage within any commercial. The intel audio logo is generally (not always) but generally placed within the main body of a commercial, rather than an element used as an end device and one very important condition in regards to using the sound logo is that it must be given clear space and air around it – for example – no other sounds are allowed to compete with it. The composer was challenged to make an audio logo that would convey the feeling or sound of how a computer works and sounds inside – and I think we can all agree that he was pretty successful in finding a nice way to convey this . . .
Without stating the obvious, but lets state it anyway, providing an effective and focused audio brief is in many cases more than half the battle. Fortunately we are not alone in this battle.
By working with Europe’s leading branding agencies we have developed a solid understanding and have become familiar to the varied and interesting ways in which branding designs are briefed and introduced to the designers from a channel brand perspective.
In other words we borrow the best bits from everyone else’s branding briefing process and we apply them to our needs combined with our own specific expertise in terms of briefing for audio. In this we have also discovered how similar the processes of designing a visual brand and designing an audio brand can be. Before we get near to the creative work itself we need to have an understanding and clear perception of the channel, it’s key values, it’s statement, its positioning etc . . .
This is often – as you will probably know – referred to as the “channel audit”. Quite often, as in the SF example, we will receive a lot of background and detailed marketing information, which does of course help and assist us in understanding the channel’s goals in design, although we often find that from an audio perspective the challenge is to simplify and break down this information to a core list of key values and intentions. Although, in some cases this breakdown is already provided by you . . . the agency or channel.
From this broken down summary and understanding of the core key values that have been prioritized, we then discuss, explore, study and absorb the direction and visual cues and designs, we can also begin to assess (in our opinion) which key values and intentions are conveyed and transmitted through the visual designs, and maybe even suggest values that are not being effectively conveyed that we can maybe enhance through the pending audio design elements.
We now have the opportunity to enhance and support the values that are already contained in the visual design itself, and / or we can focus on the values of the channel that are not (or not as effectively) transmitted as others through the visuals.
But let’s be slightly realistic, in our experience we have found that with a very short piece of audio it’s not really possible to transmit an unlimited and endless array of values. I believe you should aim for 2 or 3 core key values in an Audio Ident design. And I stress the word “Aim” because of course there will often be more values desired than this, but aiming for a more specific and targeted group of values will – in our experience – be more effective in the end result . . .
We all know that music and audio is a very important tool, none of us would deny this, but I’m not convinced that we always realize just how vital it can be, and how it can effect your visual designs and your audiences’ reactions . . and this thought often occurs to me when I work with a creative team and a director who have just spent 2 months of their valuable time and hundreds of thousands of euros working on a particular project and then approach ala kondre to solve the audio problem with 4 days to go before airing time . . it does happen! Believe me! . . .In this post I would like to talk about an interesting little audio experiment that was carried out by Lucas Films and the Sky Walker Ranch sound design guys a few years ago . . .
The experiment involved using a 20 minute segment from the digitally re-mastered Star Wars movie. They would show this segment of film, twice, to an audience of one thousand people in a THX movie theatre, one after another etc . . The only difference between the two pieces of film was the audio and sound design layers . . . . and this is what they did: the first piece of film did not use the proper soundtrack, it was essentially the original soundtrack (music, sound design, and sound effects etc) but it was altered, very slightly so that it wouldn’t be obvious, so some things were very slightly off sync, a few frames here and there etc, the music was mixed slightly less dynamically than the original and some audio ques were even left out, but the important point was that it should not be noticeable that the viewer would notice anything different about the soundtrack immediately . .
The second piece of film was the actual optimized high resolution full synced sound track, full music score, precise so
und effects and so on . .Now the important thing to mention is that the audience were not told that this experiment had anything to do with audio or sound what so ever! In fact they were told everything but that, and after the viewing they were asked to fill out a questionnaire that had several pages of questions about the colours, the editing, the storyline, the characters, the visual dynamics and so on . .
When asked if they thought that, say for instance, in which segment did the colours seem more vivid?, or in which segment did the movements seem smoother?, and so on, almost 100% of the audience always selected the second piece of film, even though the films were identical from a visual point of view. And there was one question that simply asked, “overall, which segment do you think looked the best”? and yes, you guessed it, almost all the audience thought that the second film looked better, the film with the optimized soundtrack.
I would like to ask you to participate in a little audio experiment.
Please start playing the clip below but I would like to ask you not to watch it but to listen to it. So please have your eyes shut…
Now what is he Saying?
BA BA BA ???
Now I like to ask you to play the clip again but now you can open our eyes.
So what was he saying?
Most people think they are hearing DA DA DA..
This is a so called fused respons- where the D is a result of and audio visual illusion. In reality you are hearing the sound “BA”
While you are seeing the lip movements “GA GA GA”
You have just experienced the “McGurk effect”, and I like this example so much because it clearly demonstrates that there are more things happening within an audio and visual context.