Why sound design can be strategic

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Raja Sehgal, Munzie Thind, Gary Turnbull and Carole Humphrey, GCRS

Using sound strategically is not a new concept. Brands have used jingles, mnemonics and actors to get their messages across and create recognition since the 1920s.

The real question, what is it that you want to achieve with sound?

Is it ‘sonic branding’ in the traditional sense? A short but instantly recognisable audio cue that says,  ‘Brand X’.

However, sound design can extend further than that. It can tie the entire production together to  create a signature brand style, something that states ‘Brand Y’ throughout the entire piece.

Or are we talking about achieving a particular purpose, such as a rebrand? Changing the sound  associated with a previous campaign, whether it is the music, voiceover, mnemonic or sound design style, it all forms part of the new brand strategy.

Sound design is often used strategically for the launch of new spatial audio devices; be it new headphones,  sound bars, TVs or mobile devices. The sound design is created to demo the product to its fullest  potential to generate sales by driving the consumer to an outlet to hear the sound design in its intended  format. This was used effectively by Sky for the launch of Sky Glass, where a campaign was designed and mixed in Dolby HE – home atmos and was available to sample in store.

Creating empathy and awareness with the experience is what was required from the sound design for the National Autistic Society’s ‘Sensory Overload’ campaign. The sound was specifically designed to express the debilitating experience suffered by thousands of people due to sensory sensitivity.

In summary, sound design can be strategic in many ways to highlight, enhance and demonstrate – it is  limited only by imagination.