Best Practice Sonic Branding

Extract from Sonic Branding: An Introduction - how the sonic branding industry has looked to the world’s leading visual and experiential branding agencies for best practice process.

Chapter 17 - Brand Brief

We realised quickly that in order to build sonics from a brand perspective, with the flexibility to work across all platforms and media through time, we would have to start with a very solid understanding of the brand before we got near to the creative work itself.

Luckily, we were not the first business that needed to establish how to take a brief on the nature of a brand. By working with the world’s leading visual and experiential branding agencies, we became exposed to the many ways in which graphic and 3D design are briefed from a brand perspective. Igor Stravinsky once said that a good composer does not imitate; he steals. I like to think that what we did was steal the best bits of everyone else’s brand-briefing process and apply them to our needs.

We need the brand brief to inform our creative work and make it consistent with everything else that the brands puts out as touch points. With it, we can generate consistency and, though it is sometimes a long and drawn out process, the long-term reward for getting it right at this stage is that it enables the rest of the process to move more smoothly. Specifically, the brand brief involves the brand guardians imparting their knowledge of the central belief or big idea of the brand. Certain scenarios facilitate this. 

Where brand guardians have called upon the services of a strategic branding agency such as Landor or Enterprise IG before addressing sonics, the central belief of the brand is almost always clearly visible in the work that these agencies carry out. As a result, access to documents such as the brand guidelines can give us additional information to supplement the discussion sessions that must inevitably take place. Written documents can never be the only source of a brand brief as they are often open to wide interpretation but they give great clues to the formal nature of the brand. They also demonstrate how the brand is already interpreted graphically. Visual branding has many parallels with sonic branding and by viewing logos, fonts, shapes and colours, we can be inspired regarding the sonic interpretations yet to come.

Daniel M Jackson, CEO - CORD

5 Gigs You Should See This Week including Ed Sheeran and Migos: 24th- 1st May

This week includes an eclectic mix, from canonical singer songwriting to the best of current hip hop and rap, there's something for everyone. Enjoy the sun and check out the best gigs to head to this week.


Three-piece rap group Migos rose to fame this year after releasing 'Bad and Boujee,' and together with Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty who is also managed by Quality Control music, the squad made up of some of hip hop's most exciting talent of the moment are performing on two nights in Brixton. Expect recognisable bangers and their new collaboration, 'Peek-A-Boo.'

Tickets here.

MISTAJAM presents Jampacked, RUM COMMITTEE X RAG'N'BONE MAN, 27th April @ XOYO

MistaJam was voted 2016 Broadcaster of the Year by The Radio Academy, and broadcasts for BBC 1Xtra, representing "the breadth of UK musical cultures." He performs a set at XOYO alongside UK DJ Hip Hop collective Rum Committee and Rag’n’Bone Man, plus sets from DJ Dobby (Represent Radio). He's "one of the most powerful influencers in UK music today" and takes XOYO by storm before heading off to festivals abroad during summer.

Tickets here.

BOB DYLAN, 28th April @ London Palladium

One of the most influential global singer songwriters for the last five decades, Dylan performs three intimate shows at the London Palladium, which are the last dates to be added on this tour. Tickets here.


JAY SEAN for #orphanaid, 29th April @ Troxy

Jay Sean rose to prominence with his 2009 single 'Down,' which made him the first UK urban act to top the Hot 100. He has since released a string of hits, including 'Do You Remember,' and more recently 'Make My Love Go' ft. Sean Paul and this week's release 'Do You Love Me,' sure to be a summer hit. On the 29th, Sean leads the  charity concert held by Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and boxer Amir Khan, aiming to raise both vital funds and awareness of the plight of orphans in South Asia. Tickets here.

ED SHEERAN, 1st May @ 02

Ed recently released his new album Divide to much critical acclaim, after surprisingly returning to music after a year's break with 'Castle on the Hill' and 'Shape of You.' The album went to number one immediately and he broke records with 16 different songs in the UK Top 20 Charts at the same time. The tour is sure to be just as much of a success as the album. Get tickets here.

DAMN. Review

As one of the most devout Christians in Hip-Hop, it is perhaps fitting that Kendrick Lamar has achieved an almost godlike status within the industry. He is at a level none of his contemporaries are even close to, consistently achieving commercial, artistic and critical success. However, it is perhaps more ironic that it is this level of acclaim and his loyalty of faith that has led to the self-doubt and pessimism at centre of DAMN.

DAMN. is an album of consequence, and internal conflict. It communicates the point Kendrick is trying to make on almost every level. From the track names to the album sequencing, Kendrick seeks to teach us about the fragmentation we all feel, and present his meditations upon behaviour and what makes a person who they are.

The personal and political aspects of Kendrick's music have been present from the very beginning, but DAMN. provides a middle ground between 2012's Good Kid, m.A.A.D city and 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly that contains some of Kendrick's most personal and emotional music yet, while simultaneously commenting upon the state of society and morality.

DAMN. is certainly the most pessimistic view of society Kendrick has put to album yet. His morals and faith, usually the foundations of his work are shaken. He reflects upon human nature and our motives, specifically in the final lines of DNA where he states "Sex, money, murder—[are] our DNA". On FEEL Kendrick reflects upon the state of our selfish state of society and claims "The world is endin’, I’m done pretendin’, and fuck you if you get offended”. It's evident that Kendrick is vulnerable on this album, he's unhappy with the world, unsure of himself, his fame, his voice as a social activist. This is a theme that runs throughout the album but is perhaps most clearly alluded to in FEAR where Kendrick draws parallels between himself and the biblical tale of Job. Throughout the album he portrays his duty to society and the burden it brings is as a test from God himself. This emotional burden is what has led to Kendrick's questioning of faith and morality. Just as he notes on FEEL, "I feel like the whole world want me to pray for 'em, But who the fuck prayin' for me?"

Tackling huge concepts, evident from the very track names such as PRIDE, GOD, LOYALTY and LOVE, Kendrick attempts to analyse human nature and the conflict between our inherent desires and moral expectation. This conflict is reflected in the album sequencing coupling tracks together to reflect the duality and connections within life .i.e. LUST, LOVE or perhaps most interestingly FEAR, GOD and Kendrick's own legacy of his name DUCKWORTH. GOD and DUCKWORTH represent the two patriarchs in Kendrick's life, to which he has an eternal duty: The Holy Father and his own Father, Kenny Duckworth.

Lyrically and conceptually Kendrick delivers yet another album at the cutting edge of Hip-Hop and modern day poetry in general. However, perhaps most impressive is the manner in which Kendrick is able to consistently reinvent himself with every album.

DAMN brings an entirely new sound to Kendrick's catalogue. Instrumentally, the jazz and funk inspired style of 'To Pimp A Butterfly' has gone. The collaboration with the likes of Thundercat and Kamasi Washington have been replaced by Steve Lacy, 9th Wonder and Badbadnotgood who assist in the construction of this new sound, from the trap style beat and hectic beat change of DNA, to the phone recorded lazy guitar led PRIDE and even a fully fledged, Jeremih-esque R&B track in the form of LOVE.

Though Kendrick deliberately creates a fragmented and disorienting listening experience, there is something within DAMN. that keeps it sonically cohesive and fuses a variety of disparate styles and genres into a fluid album. 


The album, unlike Kendrick's previous work is not as concrete in its message, it asks the listener to reflect upon themselves and to draw their own conclusions, it is not simply stating right or wrong or detailing the injustices of the world it asks the lister instead to question their own injustices and morals, their vices and desires.

DAMN. focuses upon our development, our actions and our convictions. Kendrick teaches us to reflect upon the consequence of our actions, to act and treat people the way we wish to be treated. In these uncertain times, Lamar makes the case to act morally, love thy neighbor, regardless of the circumstances or personal burden.

Duet it right

When we heard that Linkin park, Stormzy and Pusha T had collaborated on a track called Good Goodbye there were a lot of puzzled faces in the office. It then prompted a small argument over whether or not we should listen to it... We did and we must admit we weren't fans, the mega mix of genres and artists just didn't sit well (sorry guys). However, we love a duet in the office, whether it's during our Christmas Karaoke session or someone's birthday. That being said we got to talking about some of our own personal duet favourites past and present.

Trish's Choice : Alicia Keys and Jay Z, Empire State of Mind (2009)

This one absolutely smashed it. Everyone was singing it constantly for months. The cultural significance lead to it becoming the anthem for the City.  The song was written as a tribute to where both artists grew up, and became Jay-Z's first number-one single on the charts as a lead artist.

Hannah's choice: Tom Jones and Stereophonics, Mama told me not to come (1999)

'It's a tune.' This song is a timeless singalong classic, played at any karaoke party, marrying Tom's smooth vocals with the rocky Stereophonics sound. They surprisingly complement each other and it reached number four on the U.K. Singles Chart in 2000.

David Bartley's choice: Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty, Stop dragging my heart Around  (1981)

Petty wrote this song for his band, dubbed 'heartland rock,' and once Nicks jumped on it and it was released in 1981, it peaked at No. 3 on the American Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks. The melody is described as 'dark and sinister,' but we think it's beautiful and reminiscent of simpler times.

Nat's Pick:  Snoop Dog and Pharrell, Beautiful (2002)


If you were born in the 80's or 90's, this song should take you back to being in love with Pharrell as a 12 year old girl.  Anything Pharrell touches seems to become a summer hit (even if released during winter) and this song belongs on any old school Hip Hop playlist. Snoop adds his signature smooth and soft vocal delivery, and their work means that 15 years on it's still a tune.

Dan's choice: Bing Crosby & Frank Sinatra, Well, Did You Evah (1939)

They are two of the most well known musical figures of the 20th century, and when starring together they can't be beaten. Sinatra took inspiration to start out on his singing career from Crosby’s success, which we think is pretty amazing, and this song solidifies their spot as legendary musicians. 

Cicely's choice: Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, Say Say Say (1983) 


Two of the world's biggest pop stars came together in 1983 to write 'Say Say Say,' and the song consequently became Jackson's seventh top-ten hit inside a year. It was number one in America, Canada, Norway, Sweden among others and the video shows the two icons in California acting as con artists. It was credited for 'the introduction of dialogue and storyline to music videos.'

Daisy's pick: Drake ft. Rihanna, Too Good (2016)

'Too Good' is one of many of Rihanna and Drake's collabs, and features a sample from Popcaan's dancehall 'Love Yuh Bad.' It has a similar Caribbean-inspired polyrhythm that Rihanna's 'Work' held, and they smashed it as usual. 

If you enjoyed a sample of this then check out our Spotify playlist especially for more of our favourite duets past and presents,

This list could go on and on. I wonder what will be the biggest collaboration of 2017? Any thoughts?

5 Gigs you should see this week including Bruno Mars, Giggs and Ben Pearce: 17th- 24th April

We hope you had an eggcellent bank holiday and looking forward to another week of live music, from chart toppers to brilliant live artists, so check out our choice of gigs to go to this week.

Bruno Mars, 18th April @ 02 Arena

Bruno, the King of 'blinged up funk' is back with his 24K Magic album and consequent international tour. After the success of 'That's What I Like,' and '24K Magic' this year, the show is bound to be full of energy, a chance for 'indulgent escapism.' Not to mention that he's brought along Anderson. Paak as his support act. You've probably been persuaded.  

Tickets here.

Charli XCX, 20th April @ The Jazz Cafe

Charli dropped a mixtape last month, 'Number 1 Angel,' which features MØ, Uffie and Raye. Along with her previous songs, 'After the Afterparty,' 'Boom Clap,' and her feature on Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy,' she has a roster of hits under her belt, showcasing the best of 'moody yet catchy pop.' 

Tickets here.

Giggs, 21st April @ Eventim Apollo Hammersmith

Giggs has been releasing acclaimed rap for almost ten years now, and is still going strong with his 2016 album, Landlord. He was also just featured twice on Drake's playlist, More Life, so is no doubt in high demand. 

Tickets here.

Ben Pearce, 22nd April @ The Nest, London

Ben Pearce burst onto the house scene a couple of years ago with 'What I Might Do' and along with his just released 2017 EP, Ascension, he has the power to make your Saturday night a pretty great one. 

Tickets here. 

Isaiah Rashad, 23rd April @ Koko London

American hip hop recording artist, singer, and record producer Isaiah creates honest music, and his "anxieties bleed through the rap revelry in verse." He has collaborated with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and ScHoolboy Q to name a few, and tickets are still available to see him at Koko

Click here for tickets.

The Sonic Branding Engine

Today's extract of Sonic Branding: An Introduction turns its attention to establishing a model of how to create great sonic branding.

Chapter 16 - This is how we do it

What we will seek to do in the chapters ahead is to generate a model that can be referenced by anyone who wants to make full use of sound as a brand communicator. We call this the sonic branding engine and it is the heart of our strategic approach. Even more important in sonic branding terms than the sheer creativity of musical or effects composition, it represents the essence of the sonic branding approach.'


Daniel M Jackson, CEO - CORD

Coachella 2017 is coming...

The sun has started to shine, and celebrities have started to post snapchats of their Coachella outfit choices, which means the festival is nearly here. Spread over this weekend, April 14th-16th and April 21st- 23rd, the line up and set times have been announced and people are getting excited. They’ve already faced some backlash in the claim that “no one would understand” Kate Bush, and yet it still entices more and more people every year.

Coachella attracts A-listers and Hollywood royalty, a wealth of frayed shorts and crochet wearing girls, but the main temptation is the music. The line up this year is varied beyond belief, including, of course, the unsurprising summer pop artists like Banks, Bonobo, Dillon Francis, Galantis, Gryffin, Kaytranada and Kungs.


There’s a varied rap roster too, ranging from born and bred Brits Stormzy and Skepta, to Tory Lanez, Mac Miller, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, Future and DJ Khaled. Beyoncé was supposedly headlining, but the hindrance of her growing twins meant she dropped out, and now Lady Gaga heads the bill. They have acts for the classic music lovers: Radiohead, Hans Zimmer and Lee Reynolds, classical composer. The attraction of Coachella lies in its many different genres; rock, indie, hip hop, EDM, and the festival was originally pitched to artists and talent managers at Glastonbury, the allure of the sunshine in California seeming more appealing than the mud in Somerset. 

This year, music sales have been boosted to a five year high, thanks to Spotify and Apple Music, and consequently streaming is set to take over vinyl and CD as the biggest generator of revenue. 87% of £273 million of income is coming from streaming services, which proves the significance of the new generation of music. Coachella brings many of this new music together in one sun-filled, ethereal experience, and we're sure it'll be a musical event to remember.

Our 5 top gigs for Easter Week / Weekend

We are looking forward to the 4 day weekend coming up, and if the weather is like it was this weekend we will be looking forward to 2 extra days to check out live music for the week.

Frances, 11th April @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire








Frances is an English singer-songwriter from Berkshire. After being shortlisted for the 2016 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award and nominated for BBC Sound of 2016, she specialises in “husky, confessional vocals and rolling piano figures that are easily comparable to Carole King.”

Click here for tickets.

Yungen, 12th April @ Koko


Yungen started out on the underground circuit in early 2011 and dropped a video on SB.TV which gained him a large fanbase after quickly reaching a million views. He now collaborates with the biggest UK rap artists of today, Stomrzy, Krept and Konan and Wretch 32, and is touring up and down the country as well as promoting his new single ft. Sneakbo.

Grab your tickets here.

Dua Lipa, 13th April @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire










21 year old Dua has enjoyed chart success with hits like ‘Hotter Than Hell,’ ‘Be the One,’ ‘Blow Your Mind (Mwah) and she most recently featured on Sean Paul’s ‘No Lie’ and Martin Garrix’s ‘Scared To Be Lonely.’ She describes her style as ‘dark pop'.

Click here for tickets.


Dimitri From Paris, 15th April @ XOYO










Dimitri From Paris... a pioneering producer at the forefront of house music and dance culture. He is responsible for the first radio show dedicated to house music in France, and can boast a production career as prolific as any.

Click here for tickets.


Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, 16th April @ Forum Kentish Town


Anderson Paak started off as a drummer, and after working with Kaytranada on ‘Glowed Up,’ he has enjoyed success with his hip-hop meets urban solo albums Malibu and Venice and was also nominated for a Grammy this year. Now he joins his four member band ‘The Free Nationals’ at the Forum in Kentish Town.

Click here for tickets

Sonic Branding - from belief to brand

This week's extract from Sonic Branding: An Introduction, describes how, over 30 years ago, Howard Schulz (founder of Starbucks as we know it) used positive emotional investment to draw stakeholders and build momentum for his European-style coffee-shop chain in the United States idea.

Chapter 11 - Turning beliefs into brands

As already stated, belief is a strange concept that is not easily described but I like to think of belief as being an ‘investment of emotions’ and where the emotional investment is considered to have a beneficial end state, as with brands, then it can be said to be ‘positive’. Treating belief as an investment allows us to see how important belief is to a brand. We know that without investment, all entities fail.

Positive emotional investment (PEI), a catch-all term for such concepts as love, caring and nurturing, is what leads people into making all the other investments that brands require: time, capital or purchase. Quite simply, the more people that invest, the stronger a brand becomes. That PEI is actually at the top of the investment hierarchy, far beyond the kind of financial investments usually talked about, and can be demonstrated through a simple case study of how a belief is at the origin of a brand.

All brands start with a person or small group of people who share a belief. For example, Starbucks was apparently founded on the belief that European-style coffee shops were cool places to hang out. Let us put this 'belief’ in a little box so we can examine it. It gives us a starting point for a neat chart that we can use to define the essence of a brand and the process of branding.

Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks as we know it, then made a PEI and started telling people how good these places were. More than that he invested his time into coming up with an idea. His idea was to open a European-style coffee shop in the United States.

At this point, the idea became more important than the initial belief. With an idea, Schultz now had an even better vessel for his PEI. He told other people his idea and because of his enthusiasm, they agreed with him.

The more people he told, the more he was told in return that his was a good idea. In this way, he encouraged other people to make a PEI into his idea. Each person that was convinced became a stakeholder in the brand.

The stakeholder is a key component of a modern brand definition. Stakeholders are all the people who believe in a brand, from the founder’s mother to the customer in a remote country. It is the broadest definition of a brand’s constituency and acknowledges that family, staff, the financial world, the media and every customer are important to the brand.

As the number of stakeholders grew from one, Howard Schultz, to many, the ‘I’ of idea became a ‘we’. A momentum built and has been building ever since on a big wave of PEI. This is shown in particular and abstract in Figures 11.4 and 11.5 (shown below).


This is a simple model but it is not yet a brand because it is still only an idea, albeit a popular one. Ideas exist on an ethereal plain and it would be very hard for even a talented businessman like Howard Schultz to generate wealth, financial or emotional, simply from an idea. It is always worth remembering that ideas are not own-able in law. It is impossible to copyright an idea. In order to turn an idea into a brand, we need to consider the challenge of making something tangible, something real-worldly, so that many more people can believe in it.

Daniel M Jackson, CEO - CORD

Sonic Branding: An Introduction : The building blocks of Sonic Branding

Around the same time as Daniel's writing of Sonic Branding: An Introduction, Robbie Laughton, executive creative director of Wolff Olins asserted that ‘the essence of any brand is a belief'. This week's extract from the book continues to explore the definition of a brand.

Chapter 10 - The essence of brand is belief

'Trust is a belief in reliability'. What McDonald’s did better than anyone else was to create belief among their customers that they were getting decent food at a good price and that the chain would always deliver the same portions in the same wrappers in the same type of environment. McDonald’s promised all of this and when customers walked through the doors, this is exactly what they got.

McDonald’s kept their promises and in doing so they became trusted as you or I would if we were to commit to something and then deliver. They were also very friendly. The brand spokesman was a clown, very unfunny but a familiar archetype that resonates all over the world as being friendly and unthreatening. The staff was trained, at least in the US, to be friendly too; politeness and courtesy were a part of the service. More than that, McDonald’s had a strategy for hosting children’s parties and generally looked after kids through happy meals, balloons and hats.

McDonald’s brand was based upon a belief that the brothers had in their way of doing things. Their ideas were strong and their execution was consistent. They made promises and kept them and customers grew to believe in the brand as a trusted friend. If it were not for allegations of sharp practice and environmental harm, the brand would still be everyone’s favourite, but more of that later.

The word belief came up time and again while researching this book. It certainly seems to be the case that today’s brand experts put belief right at the heart of a brand. In September 2002, we asked Tania Mason, editor of the Branding section of Marketing magazine to give us her definition of a brand: she described it as a ‘promise of standards’. This is very much in keeping with the McDonald’s brand story and it is pretty easy to understand.

Tim Greenhill, Managing Director of Greenhill McCarron also asserts that brands are based upon beliefs, which must be commonly held by the staff and customers of an organization. Does this mean that logos and trademarks have no relevance to a definition of a brand post-McDonald’s? Greenhill would argue that the traditional model of name and trademark are just as important as ever but today, not everyone is certain that brands, if they have belief, need logos.

The Times, in October 2002, ran a front page splash entitled ‘Death of the Logo’. The article was certainly not heralding the death of brands. The reference was to the current movement by fashion houses to completely rethink the logo and trademark. Gucci and Prada are at the top end in the world of fashion. They set the tone for everyone else and the trend they are currently setting, in a world post 11 September and the ‘Battle of Seattle’, has been to downsize or even in some cases completely remove the logos from their goods. In doing so, they are reflecting the times and may be defining how society will view logos for years to come.

This is not just another trend. It represents a growing feeling among those who work with brands that logos and symbols, which had come to be seen as a promise of standards, no longer mean as much as they once did, particularly in a world of counterfeiting. If the Gucci logo was a promise of standards but more Gucci bags on the street are counterfeit than real. then the promise is broken because part of the promise is exclusivity and self-expression. If anyone can have a Gucci fake, which can be of merchantable quality, then the Gucci logo is a broken promise.

The label has found a way to make a promise and keep it. It now relies more heavily on great design of unique features. Outside of Gucci, Christian Louboutin, the shoe designer, has taken to making his shoes with red soles. No doubt when he is copied, he will need to find a new way to differentiate his designs but for now he has found a way to make a singular promise.

Prada has created a unique retail space in New York. It is unlike any other store and provides the kind of experience that high—end fashion shoppers demand. The investment and effort it has made make the shopping experience impossible to copy and this allows many of the Prada goods sold to carry little or no evidence of a logo or trademark.

Reports of the death of logos are premature but it is clear that brands are no longer reliant upon them. Brands can now keep their promises through smart design and by providing a unique experience. This is a growing trend. Gucci and Prada confirm that brands are promises and a part of the promise is that they are exclusive or distinct. If counterfeiters can copy a logo then the brand promise is broken. Counterfeiters have done something good, however, in showing brands that simply slapping a logo on any old product is no longer good enough. The product or experience itself must promise something, not just the name.

Tim Greenhill makes the point that the primary purpose of brands is to be distinct: ‘Brands are just about the only way that companies can differentiate their goods and services. Manufacturing and technology are so good these days that pretty much anything can be copied almost as soon as it is launched.'

Where Mason and Greenhill’s definitions converge is in their contention that brands are primarily emotional entities — promises and beliefs. This is a far cry from the AMA or Interbrand who contended in the past that brands were trademarks or products but is entirely in keeping with the latest actions of high fashion. Robbie Laughton, executive creative director of Wolff Olins at the time of writing, asserts, as does this book that ‘the essence of any brand is a belief ’.“ It would be possible to leave our definition there but it is useful if we expand upon this and examine what in particular makes a belief into a brand.

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD

What does Solange, Biffy Clyro, Toots and Maytals all have in common?...

They are all playing at this years Glastonbury! The wait is finely over.  The first official line-up was released this morning via twitter with 88 acts confirmed and It has people talking.  We can all agree that the line-up seems to be the strongest it has been for years with a variation of artist from genres that caters to Glastonbury's diverse audience.  So far we have Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, The XX and Foo fighters as headliners and a Glastonbury debut from Katy Perry. 

June 21-25th will mark 46th year of Glastonbury festival, which is still regarded as a major event in British culture. The line up has a strong list of Brits from all genes waving the flag. With Stormzy, The XX, George Ezra and Sampha along with some exciting upcoming artist like Rag n Bone man, Nadia Rose and our office favourite Loyle Carner.

And the artist from across the pond is even more exciting with Solange, Lemon Twigs, Aanderson .Paak and the Free Nationals and Run the Jewels being a few.  And of Course Katy Perry, who is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.


 The event is due one of its regular fallow years in 2018, however there have been whispers that this might be the end of Glastonbury Worthy Farm. Both Emily and Micheal Eavis have hinted that a new event called Variety Bazaar will take place on a different site.

We could waffle on about the line up but we know there's loads more to come and it will only get better.  For those who have already put their deposit down don’t forget that you can pay the full amount of £188from April 1st -7th.  For those who haven’t got a ticket yet, there is still hope!  There will be a release of tickets in April(TBC) so keep your eyes pealed.

Lets hope for sunshine and more exciting artist announcements!

11. Sonic Branding: An Introduction

In this week's extract of Sonic Branding: An Introduction, Daniel Jackson traces back to 1937, to the origins and launch of the McDonald's brand.


One brand, more than any other has shown us that trademarks and brands are different. This brand set the agenda for how we perceive brands today but it took 40 or more years for the lessons to filter through and even now, the branding industry is dominated by businesses that sell graphic design and trademarks ... but not for much longer. The brand that helped the world see that a name, design and trademark were just elements of a brand and not the essence of a brand was growing slowly and quietly at the same time and in the same place as Landor Associates. During the 1940s and 1950s, largely unknown to the marketing fraternity, a new, great brand was being born in the sunshine state of California. It too rode the economic boom of the post—war years but it and a few contemporaries were to set a new agenda for creating and defining brands. .

McDonald’s was founded by Richard and Maurice McDonald (no Ronald?) in 1937. Originally, they had escaped the Depression and the east, looking for gold in the movie business. Their talents as set builders allowed them to save the money needed to build a cinema but when that failed they turned their hands to making ‘McDonald’s Famous Burgers ‘. They opened a drive—in restaurant, the kind you might be familiar with from watching Happy Days or the opening titles to the classic Flintstones cartoons.

Kids in southern California loved to hang out at drive-ins. Here they were served cheap food late into the night by ‘car hops , usually pretty girls in short skirts. The McDonald Brothers’ Burger Bar Drive—In was the right business in the right place at the right time. California was flooded with investment from the federal government of the US, had the kind of year-round climate that was ideally suited to ‘hanging out’ and had an abundance of kids with cars and cash.

The McDonald brothers’ success was considerable but nevertheless, they became disillusioned with the drive—in restaurant they had founded. There seemed to be too much bother serving customers in their cars, too much hassle finding short—order cooks and too many broken glasses to be replaced every night. So, they changed the way they did business. Though what they did owes much to the factory assembly line, I believe that their background in entertainment had an effect on the way they did it.

In short, they invented McDonald’s as we know it, They pared the menu down to foods eaten without a knife and fork; they brought in the division of labour in preparation (one person for the burgers, one for the fires and so on); and they served everything in paper rather than on a plate or in a glass. They also decided to stop employing car hops, much to the disappointment no doubt, of every red-blooded teenage boy.

The next thing they did was also genius but incredibly simple. They decided they needed a new building for the restaurant. This one had to be visible from far away, so Richard McDonald designed it to have two neon-lit arches on its roof that looked like an M when viewed from a distance. With no training as a designer or architect, the Hollywood set—building brothers created an enduring theatre of hamburgers and possibly the most loved and reviled logo in the world.

That was not all, however, because they then introduced the Speedee Service System — a way for the staff to behave that described exactly what was expected of them. This became the value set for the whole company. They recruited staff to support their vision. They wanted a family clientele and experience told them that employing young female staff would mainly attract young men so rather than become a teen hangout, they only employed young men. In their total innovation of the restaurant concept, McDonald’s effectively laid a blueprint for brands for the next half—century. They had a good name, they developed a great logo, serendipitously, some ten years after they set up, they recruited to support their ideas and they trained their staff to believe in the Speedee Service values.

These principles were copied, very quickly, by a huge number of competitors all over the US. The ideas and inspiration that took the brothers a lifetime to develop were copied by other people all over the nation but the McDonald brothers were not one—trick ponies. What continued to place McDonald’s at the forefront of their industry was their belief in delivering a consistent product and service. They achieved this by implementing a rigorous regime, specifying the nature and method behind every burger, bun and soft drink. Everything about the restaurants was metred precisely, ensuring that the customer always got what the menu promised. More to the point, every customer got exactly what they expected and that was the key to building trust.

The food was not all that was specified. The architecture style that was introduced in the first restaurant was used as a pattern for subsequent restaurants and the lucky logo became a beacon to low—income families all over the country that had not been catered for previously by restaurants.

The interiors, too, were specified according to the brothers’ exacting standards, but there was usually some design cue reserved for the location of the restaurant. If you think that the idea of global/local is new then just look at the range of McDonald’s restaurant interiors world-wide. McDonald’s had consistent food, architecture and staff. They all supported the value set of Speedee Service. Furthermore, McDonald’s had its own in—store music programme. It had uniform lighting, heating, flooring and just about everything else. As a result of its vast success throughout the late twentieth century, it has become a model for how brands behave today. In fact, the McDonald’s model is the one adhered to by most of today’s branding experts.

McDonald’s was the first company to view the entire brand experience. Brand experience has become a buzz around the industry in the last two years. It refers to a brand philosophy prescribing that every time a customer comes into contact with a brand, no matter what the channel, the experience should be consistent with the central belief of the brand. Consistency increases the probability of reaching target customers effectively.

It took the industry a long time to catch on to this view; in the meantime McDonald’s has come to dominate the world of fast food. The secrets are now visible, however, exposed in Fast Food Nation, by E. Schlosser. Perhaps the most interesting revelation in that best—seller is a point that is easy to miss. In a quote from a McDonald’s communications strategy meeting the following objective was identified. McDonald’s wanted to ‘make the customers believe that McDonald’s [was] their “Trusted Friend” ’.

Daniel Jackson, CEO - CORD


5 Gigs You Should See This Week 27th march-2nd april



Head down to Heaven in London's Charing Cross to catch the amazing Thundercat.  The bassist, vocalist and song-writer will no doubt treat crowds to soulful songs from his new album Drunk.

Click here to buy tickets.


SAMPHA, 29th march @roundhouse 

Give your ears a treat this Wednesday at the first of Sampha's  two Roundhouse gigs.  Hailed as 'one of the UK's most enigmatic artists', you'll be sure to come away from this one in high spirits.

Click here to buy tickets.



Sometimes secret gigs can be daunting.  This one, however, is run by the the wonderful Sofar Sounds, who always manage to create unique, intimate experiences, no matter who is playing. Plus it's BYOB!

Click to buy tickets.


sub focus, black sun empire, special request, d bridge and more, 31st march @fabric

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Lose yourself to these drum n bass sounds at the newly re-opened Fabric.

Click to buy tickets.


run the jewels, 1st april @roundhouse

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If you fancy another trip to the Roundhouse and you love a rap duo, then you're in luck!  Run The Jewels are currently on their European tour and will be playing on Saturday night.  Make sure you listen out for songs from their third album, the sensibly named Run The Jewels 3.

Click here to buy tickets.

10. Sonic Branding: An Introduction

In this week's extract of Sonic Branding: An Introduction, Daniel describes the link between early US commercial radio sponsorships and the first signs of mass media sonic branding.

Chapter 8

Brand and its symbols

It was during the 1920s that the use of sounds as a marketing medium first came into public and corporate consciousness. The first commercial radio station, KDKA, was founded in 1920 by Frank Conrad, an employee of the Westinghouse company, a manufacturer and retailer of wirelesses. He and his employer had noticed that when they broadcast music, sales of the radio equipment they sold increased, so they applied for a license, upped the juice on the transmitter and created a new commercial medium.

Conrad's activity was quickly copied by many other new radio station owners but while Conrad succeeded, over half the stations founded over the first five years of commercial radio closed down soon after. The overriding reason was that there was no proven revenue model, outside of equipment sales and a debate raged as to how to make money from radio. Options such as a license fee, some method of subscription and encoding or philanthropy were considered and trialled with varying success. We do not have to look too hard to see many parallels between the troubled growth of radio in the 1920s and the growing pains of the internet in the late 1990s.

Programming was created and broadcast largely to sell more radio sets and the commercial drive was to create content that appealed to as wide an audience as possible. Whether stations could make money or not, the common sense approach was to try to gather as many listeners as possible.

Commercial radio was actually seen as a public service in the early days but the transparent need for revenue soon saw commercial messages starting to dominate the medium The speed with which this happened was astonishing, leading Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States but then Secretary of Commerce, to bemoan at a radio industry conference in 1992 that: '[It would be] inconceivable that we should allow so great a possibility for service to be drowned in advertiser chatter,'

Opinions such as these did not deter the FMCG manufactures from seeking a way to use the communication power of sound to get their own messages across. They spotted an opportunity in all the people gathered, listening to the radio and in doing so gave stations programming budgets and new means of revenue generation. The way they did this was simple and enduring. They put together their own groups and paid for them to perform on the radio. The Royal Typewriter Salon Orchestra, the Lucky Strike Orchestra, Vick's Vap-o-rub Quartet, and the Cliquot Club Eskimos were all examples of this practise.

Beyond that, they started to sponsor programming and the 'soap opera' was born. These early US commercial radio sponsorships represent the first mass market use of what might very loosely be called sonic branding and helped reinforce the images of quality and heritage that the newly created names, logos and packaging conveyed.

Daniel Jackson - CEO CORD

5 Gigs You Should See This Week 20th - 26th

The sun was shinning and the weather was sweet earlier this week. Lets hope that next week is just a good as the shows.

Drake 20th March @ O2


If you missed him the first time around then here is your chance to see Drake live.  I don't think we are sick of 'One Dance' just yet.

Click Here for tickets

The Virginmarys 21st March @ The borderline

The Virginmarys are an English three-piece rock band from Maccelsfield England. The band formed in 2009 and self-released a limited series of sold out EPs, before releasing their debut album King of Conflict on Double cross/Cooking Vinyl and Wind Up Records. 

Click Here for tickets


Ray BLK 23rd March @ Jazz Cafe


Rita Ekwere, better known under her stage name of Ray BLK, will be performing along with Annie Mac and Camden's Legendaryvenue Jazz Cafe.

Click here for tickets.


The Wailers 24th March @ Indigo at the O2, Greenwich Peninsula

The Wailers are a reggae band formed by the remaining members of Bob Marley & the Wailers, following the death of Bob Marley in 1981. They have become the biggest Jamaican group of all time with more than 250 million albums sold worldwide. They’re led by Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, with former Aswad singer Brinsley Forde taking over Bob Marley’s vocal duties. They will be performing all their top hits from over the years.

Click Here for tickets


She Drew The Gun 24th March @ Oslo Hackney

She drew the Gun, fronted by singer-songwriter Louisa Roach offer dreamy lyrically evocative psych-pop from the banks of the Mersey. Taking the bare bones of the songs - poetic narrative lyrics set to haunting riffs and melodies, they built up the tracks, developing an electronic element into Roach’s sound. The result is a dark but dreamlike collection of stories from the songwriter’s life.

Click Here for tickets




5 Gigs You Should This Week 13th -19th

We had to double up with some of the shows this week because it was too difficult pick which one to go to...


CAM 14th March @ Bush Hall

California born singer songwriter CAM is one of the breakthrough country artists of 2016. Her number one country single ‘Burning House’ earned her a Grammy Award nomination. Cam is now touring throughout the UK and across America.

Click here for tickets


James Brandon Lewis 14th March @ Ronnie Scott’s

After the success of his critically acclaimed album “Days of Freeman” in 2015 James Brandon Lewis returns presenting “No Filter” new music. Lewis is a successful Jazz Saxophonist and will be performing at Ronnie Scott’s as a trio with his bassist and drummer.

Click here for tickets


Jagwar Ma 15th March @ O2 Forum

Australian trio Jagwar Ma released their debut album ‘Howlin’ in 2013, the success of the album led to the band touring alongside The XX and Foals. The band released a brand new album ‘Every Now and Then’ in 2016 and are headlining their own UK tour throughout March.

Click here for tickets


Charlie Worsham 16th March @ The Borderline


Charlie Worsham is an American country singer songwriter who has performed and toured with Taylor Swift. Charlie is touring across the UK throughout March and is releasing his brand new album “Beginning of Things” in April 2017.

Click here for tickets.

Foxing 16th March @ Scala


Foxing is an American rock band from St Louis, Missouri building a great reputation for their live shows.  Foxing are set to play to their biggest London crowd to date at Scala as part of their European tour throughout March and April.

Click here for tickets.

9. Sonic Branding: An Introduction

13 years ago CEO Daniel M Jackson wrote a book that marked a seminal moment in the history of sonic branding. The book is called ‘Sonic Branding: An Introduction’.

In this week's extract Daniel tackles the issue of how to define a brand, without falling into the trap of believing that brands are scientific..

Chapter 7

The Nature of Brands - A historical perspective

We will start with a couple of traditional definitions of a brand. First, 'an identifying mark burnt on livestock'; and second, just as prosaically 'a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name'. I work with a number of brands but the last time I checked I was working with no cows' arses. Therefore, interesting as the history of domestic cattle may be, I think we can go straight on to the second, that a brand is a type of product manufactured under a particular name.

This definition certainly tallies with what is thought to be the world's first brand. In c.200 BC a Syrian sandal maker marked his sandals with his name and opened up a whole kettle of fish. The first brand was marked only with the maker's name. Every subsequent brand has also been marked with a name. Names are also fundamental to humanity. Talmudic scholars tell us that something cannot exist until it has a name and that a name is fundamental to the essence of being. In fact, the name of God is taken to be so important, that it is not meant to be spoken aloud. This is heavy, spiritual stuff, however, so it you want to know more, check our the Talmud. Suffice to say, it is an ancient Hebrew text that contains foundations for music of the moral law of the Western world. It has a lot to say about pretty much everything and were it to address the subject of brands, it would tell us that they need denominations.

The strongest brands today started out in the nineteenth century with just their good names. Brands like Kellogg's, Coca-Cola and Marmite showed then, and show us today, that the right name has always been fundamental to the success of a brand. In terms of communications and marketing, these goods only needed a name because the products themselves were genuinely different or superior to goods that had gone before. The products were unique without having to consciously engineer a unique selling point. Quite simply, all they had to do to stand out in the grocery shops was have a label that stated their name and thus differentiated them from the generics.

The growth of these brands shaped the understanding of what constituted a brand and for some time, a definition of a brand as a named good held sway. If all the other cereals are sold out of bags labelled as 'corn' or 'barley', then a box with Kellogg's written on it will clearly stand out; so the name-based definition was still accurate 120 years ago. The world's view of brands has changed somewhat more in the last 120 years than it did over the preceding 2,000. For a start, there are more brands around these days and differentiation means working a little harder than just having a name. Names are still important but today we understand that there are other factors that define a brand.

Daniel Jackson - CEO, CORD


"Drunk” is Thundercat’s first full-length album in nearly four years. It is safe to say that due to a recently developed cult following, it has certainly had the warmest reception.

Throughout this album it is clear that Thundercat has finally been able to move past his previous fixation upon mortality, which became a recurring theme within his music following the death of Austin Peralta, a close friend and fellow Brain feeder label-mate. As it’s title suggests, “Drunk”, is a very welcome shift in tone for Thundercat, it serves as an exploration into the various phases of intoxication. The album starts off in a very playful energetic and humorous tone and gradually develops into a darker more disorientating and self-pitying tone more reminiscent of his previous album “Apocalypse”.  It can at one minute be extremely smooth and parodic and immediately afterwards incredibly intense, complex and moody. Just like being paralytically drunk the album jumps from one thing to the next constantly dizzying and surprising the listener. The entire album is incredibly tongue and cheek and yet extremely innovative at the same time.



Pitchfork quite perfectly summarized the album stating that it is: “The aural equivalent of late-night channel surfing.”

This made me reflect upon my own late night television habits, and draw a few parallels with shows on the Adult Swim network such as the fever dream-esque talk show ‘The Eric Andre Show’ - hosted by Eric Andre a close friend of Thundercat himself  - or the late night hallucinogenic blend of videos that compile an episode of “Off The Air”. Part of the thrill of “Drunk”, much like in these shows, is that you are never really certain of where Thundercat is going to take us next. Drunk’ incorporates elements from everything from ’70s funk and R&B to Psychedelic Jazz fusion springing from one to the next with little to nothing more Thundercat’s smooth falsetto to tie them together. Throughout the album he manages to simultaneously pay homage to the cheesy sounds of the past and parody them, perhaps most obvious in the oscillation between the oddball ‘meowing’ and cat worship in “A Fan’s Mail” to a classic homage to love ballads in “Show Me The Way” before then immediately delving into serious political commentary with Kendrick Lamar on “Walk On By”. Much like an Adult Swim sketch show, there are some throwaway moments scattered about within the album and certain aspects of the eccentric progression will not please everyone, however, for those cult fans or music aficionados, every element is certainly an interesting insight to Thundercat’s own development as an artist. 

That is the principal charm of “Drunk” as a record; it is an intensely personal insight into the man behind Thundercat. It gives us a glimpse into the true whimsical, thoughtful, and goofy nature of  Stephen Bruner as a person and addresses the relatable and often darkly humorous aspects of our day to day struggle. Whether it is tackling themes of alcoholism, drugs or heartbreak, Thundercat explores things within “Drunk” in an extremely bold manner that very few contemporary musicians would feel comfortable to attempt.



Here's a few links to Thundercat & Eric Andre if you feel like they're worth sticking up with the article, DISCLAIMER, it's the most beautifully strange show on air:


5 Gigs You Should See This Week: 6th-12th

We have another eclectic mix of live shows lined up for next week. And we had to share with you the ones we will be heading down to.

Kehlani 6th March @Koko

Kehlani American singer, songwriter will be performing a mixture of her slinky slow jams and up beat r&b tracks from her no.1 Album Sweet, Sexy, Savage.

Click here for tickets.


Devlin 7th March @Oslo Hackney

UK rapper Devlin has collaborated with many artists over the years, including Ed Sheeran and Katy B. Devlin is now promoting the release of his brand new album ‘The Devil In’.

Click here for more info


Tomaga 10th March @ The Jazz Cafe

Tomaga are a London based duo, passionate about creating an unconventional sound. Tomaga are multi instrumentalist and use analogue synthesizers and effects to create their percussive sound.

Click here for tickets.



Grace Savage 11th March @ The Roundhouse

Grace Savage has been named UK Beatbox Champion twice and is now branching out into the music industry as a solo artist. Grace is releasing a new EP this year which you can currently pre order on Pledge Music.

Click here for tickets.


Jingo 11th March @


For the launch of their latest album Jingo will be performing at Birthdays Dalston. If you are a fan of Interpol, Portishead and Radiohead you will enjoy their music.

Click here for tickets.

8. Sonic Branding: An Introduction

13 years ago our CEO Daniel M Jackson wrote a book that marked a seminal moment in the history of sonic branding. The book is called ‘Sonic Branding: An Introduction’.

In this week's extract Daniel introduces a framework for classifying the millions of different sounds that we hear in our lives. In broad terms there are three types or elements of sound; voice, ambience (or effects) and music..


The three elements of sound - Music

'Writing about music is like dancing about architecture - it's really a stupid thing to want to do.' Elvis Costello

Trying to define music is always fun! This is what the New Oxford Dictionary of English has to say: 'The art of science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion.' This is a fabulous definition and I am yet to find any other that puts it more succinctly. If it has a flaw, it is that music today incorporates ambient sounds that are neither vocal nor instrumental, but I will overlook that because the basics are so good.

Music is the fundamental element of sound in terms of sonic branding. As well as the cultural reasons outlined already, there are many other important references in this book as to why music is so important for brands. Perhaps the simplest, though, it that music can incorporate any and all the sounds in the world. If we can record them they can be used in music, be they vocal, ambient or made by any of the thousands of musical instruments man has invented.

Music is a huge subject and many books have been written about its art, its social functions, its psychology and just about every other aspect of the cultural phenomenon. It touches the lives of everyone in some way and thanks to our ability to record it, has become one of the dominant art forms in western culture. It has also become the victim of its own success because as any true musician will tell you, the drive to create is artistic yet the driving forces of today's music are big business. Today there is a great feeling that music has been hijacked for the sole purpose of generating wealth and this is an accusation that has been levelled at the sonic branding industry as well as the more obviously culpable recording industry.