On May 2, 2012 London-based design student Stuart Dooley landed at LAX.
His mission: to develop Related Grey's sonic branding.
What is 'sonic branding' you might ask? Well, perhaps the simplest explanation lies in this short snippet of song: 'Ba da ba ba ba, I'm lovin' it'. Most of you will instantly have the tune in your head and probably be thinking of the golden arches and a tasty BigMac. Here's a more academic definition by sonic branding expert Julian Treasure: Sonic branding or brand sound is "the intentional sound which communicates and/or reinforces the qualities, tones and values that are best aligned with the brand promise, and which enhances and amplifies the desirable aspects of the brand experience." The world is acutely aware of visual branding, and almost everything we see has been specifically designed in one way or another. Now ask yourself, how much of the sound around you was specifically and intentionally designed?
Having interned with us during the early part of this year, Stuart was able to get a unique insight into the Related Grey brand. His final year of study with the renowned University of The Arts London had been largely focused on the fascinating and exciting discipline of sonic branding and we were stoked to hear that for his Final Major Project he wanted to sonically brand rG. We jumped at the offer and in no time he was on a plane, portable recorder in hand, and amping to go. He spent some time researching and analyzing the brand, asking endless questions, interviewing, filming, recording and putting out surveys. Once he had worked through all the research, he was able to define our brand's values.
Stuart then took his brand analysis to Carlos Ramirez, one of the incredibly talented producers and musicians we work with, and together they developed the modular system and the custom track featured in the video.
Stuart set out to create the brand sound. His process included (1) the creation of a fully custom made sound logo, or 'sogo'; (2) a modular music system which enables us to create any mood, vibe or atmosphere from a number of fully interchangeable 'on-brand' tracks; (3) a sound library featuring a massive range of our own fully original rG sounds and instruments; and (4) a video feature providing insight into the entire process.
The sound logo (which will be heard at the beginning of all rG media from now on) was created using 17 original rG sounds and is based on the rhythm that is formed by the syllables in our name: Re-la-ted Grey. The track that you can hear in the video is the first example of the modular system at work. Basically, Stuart has defined a tempo, key and scale to be used. Within those parameters, any further track created will work interchangeably with the others. So we can pick and choose, depending on what we need, with complete confidence that not only will every soundtrack be 100% original rG material, it will all be in line with our brand values.
The system also leaves the future horizons wide open, we can add, subtract and change the sounds without losing brand consistency. Again, pretty clever stuff from the crazy Brit! All in all, a pretty awesome experience, and we're incredibly excited to have expanded our branding into the realms of sound. We believe that sound is such an important part of what we do, that it made complete sense for us to be intentional about it.