life’s for audio branding

In my previous blog post, I presented an example of what can happen when you fail to consider the sonic space your brand occupies.

Telekom connects the sonic dots with an integrated strategy that serves as a good case study of audio branding best practices.

So what about an example of audio branding “done right?”

Recently, Telekom (the German equivalent of T-mobile) launched a new campaign for the German market: “Million Voices (7 seconds).” Telekom connects the sonic dots with an integrated strategy that serves as a good case study of audio branding best practices: enhancing equity, fostering customer engagement, integrating a variety of sonic touchpoints, aligning with brand values and conveying authenticity.

First, an overview: T-mobile/Telekom is a mass market telecomunications brand that has consistently incorporated sound into their branding and marketing strategies. In addition to creating one of the most recognizable five-note audio logos in the mobile phone market, T-mobile/Telekom has a history of using sound and music as an integral part of their brand promotions and brand extensions. One example is Telekom’s music portal, a user interface that connects fans with music and music news through a dedicated website that serves to position the brand as a player in the world of entertainment as well as the world of communications.

T-Mobile/Telekom’s brand message is succinctly represented by the brands current positioning line, “Life’s for shaing.” Certainly, one of the primary ways to experience, communicate and share life is through music. So what would happen if that concept were magnified by a user experience that created a connection between customers, artists, technology and mobile devices?

Enter the Telekom “Million Voices (7 seconds)” campaign, launched in Germany on October 1st, 2010 and introduced by this commercial:

Telekom hopes to connect with their audience by sharing equity between a hit song (Neneh Cherry and Youssou N’Dour’s “7 Seconds”), a hit producer (German hip hop producer and DJ, Thomas D) and the Telekom brand. But rather than just featuring a Thomas D remix of 7 Seconds in the sound track of a phone commercial, Telekom decided to create a unique piece of branded audio content by inviting users to share in the making of a new cover of 7 Seconds.

Thomas D functions as brand spokesperson, continually engaging the audience through a YouTube “Million Voices” portal and the Telekom “Million Voices” website, where fans can upload their own performances of 7 Seconds. In addition to consumers, the hip hop producer has recruited a variety of other well known German artists to participate, adding even more interest and variety to the campaign.

After assembling all the audio and video submissions into a new cover version of the original song, Thomas D will debut his creation in a new commercial for Telekom slated to air on November 15th. Additionally, an extended music video will be produced to accompany the television commercial.

What better way to show off the power and connectivity of a mobile network than by using that connectivity to unite a “million voices” in a singular creative exercise across multiple brand touchpoints that include not only traditional broadcast media but also iPhone and Android Apps, Facebook, YouTube, a “Million Voices (7 Seconds)” web portal and road teams that record/engage consumers directly?

Telekom even thought to modify the presentation of their five tone audio logo to align it with the campaign theme, using an overlay of human voices performing on top of the familiar tones of the logo.

As a result of the attention to all these details, the campaign hits the key elements that are necessary to consider when creating and executing an audio branding strategy:

*If a brand is going to share equity by licensing a song or using a well known artist as part of its audio branding strategy, it should do so in a way that emphasizes originality, authenticity and ownership for the brand.

*An audio branding strategy should be integrated over multiple touch points. Audio allows you to represent your brand beyond the limits of visual branding. Identify and utilize as many touch points as you can to connect your audio brand with consumers.

*Find creative ways to adapt your existing audio brand (such as an audio logo or brand song) to new campaigns without losing the equity of previous audio branding endeavors. Obviously, building flexibility into your audio branding from the beginning will help you adapt it over time.

*You earn extra points if your audio branding strategy actually engages consumers in the audio brand itself. An interesting sidebar is noting the YouTube videos that actually have consumers creating new and unique content using the T-Mobile/Telekom five tone audio logo.

*View audio branding as a strategy designed to support the brand as a whole, not simply as a promotion, gimmick or one-off creative execution. The “Million Voices (7 Seconds)” totally aligns with Telekom’s mission, values and theme.

By paying attention to brand values, equity, engagement, integration, alignment and authenticity, “Million Voices (7 Seconds)” has all the earmarks of a well planned and executed audio branding strategy.


  1. Alan Curtis
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Your post reminds me of an article i just read tonight. Check it out

    • steve keller
      Posted May 9, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink | Reply


      Terry’s blog, “Critical Noise,” is a great resource! I’ve been following him for some time, and he always offers some great food for thought. There are a number of wonderful “voices” out there in the field of audio branding. I’m always happy to hear about fellow compatriots spreading the word.

      Thanks for being a part of the discussion!

      • Alan Curtis
        Posted May 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        The pleasure is mine Steve. Your company looks very interesting. How would an independent writer/producer such as myself learn more about this community you work with and possibly be a part of it?

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