Simple, Personal and Fair

Santander’s aim was to become the best bank in the UK for its people, customers, shareholders and communities. In order to achieve this objective, Santander launched its simple, personal and fair campaign. The brand was looking to build greater warmth and trust with its customers, and to begin to communicate in a more emotive way. The challenge for CORD was to use the power of music to convey these core brand values, whilst maintaining a flexible approach to  complex needs of the modern and global brand. 


Santander was looking for an adaptive musical theme that would support Santander’s new emotional positioning now and into the future. It was important that this theme would be flexible enough to allow the brand and its communications agencies to work freely with the newly developed audio assets and to be able to adapt to any genre and mood of specific campaigns. Such audio-visual cues can, over time, become a short-hand brand language that the consumer recognises and understands when seen and heard in connection with communications.


CORD partnered with Santander’s creative agency WCRS to work through our specialist audio branding process. The process kicked off with a mood board exploration and together with the agency and clients, we listened to hundreds of existing pieces of music in order to focus in on a preferred sound world.  We crafted a music brief that was based upon Santander’s challenges and objectives and resulted in a vision for the music and future sound of the brand. 


Following an extensive creative process, composer David Lowe, was selected to develop a long-form brand theme, to include a distinctive mnemonic. This mnemonic was designed to be truly flexible and to be constantly re-orchestrated to suit new campaigns and pieces of content. Both the theme and mnemonic were recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios and launched during the simple, personal and fair campaign. 

Since this time, the brand theme and mnemonic have become a key part of the brands toolkit and are being used repeatedly,  with a view to developing a ‘conditioned response’, thereby linking the musical notes to powerful brand ideas.



Few brands in the world can boast a visual brand as iconic and singular as Shell’s. CORD was engaged to manage the transition of the brand from the static visual world of the past to the moving, multi-sensory world of the future. 


The rebrand of the decade.

ITV was undergoing its first major rebrand in a decade.  Graphically, the change was to be seismic, taking the visual identity from flat, static colours to a new, dynamic and endlessly morphing transparency; reflecting and refracting the multi-coloured content upon which ITV has been built

Our challenge was to find an equally new and engaging way to build a sound for the brand, whilst solving scale and timing requirements to create more than 100 individual idents for ITV and its 4 sub-brands over a 6 week period - the biggest channel branding exercise in anyone’s memory.


We set about the task by examining the sonic heritage of the brand. We listened to every sonic identity that ITV had employed back to its inception in the 1950s. We examined why some of the sounds had endured, why some had faded and what each of them had to say about the channel throughout its history.

The key finding from our work was that the most enduring identities were heavily melodic. Through consumer research, we discovered that the best of these, in terms of memorability and positive associations, were the ones that had long melodies, i.e. melodic phrases of greater than 12 notes.

In parallel with this process, we examined the competitive landscape of channel branding in the UK and further afield. We discovered a mega-trend of channel branding that was heavily influenced by sound design and ambient music. Speaking with established practitioners in channel branding, we established that sound design provided easy flexibility for identity designers. Though this was a compelling argument against the use of melody, it equally created an opportunity for ITV to create a new identity in the relatively clear space of melodic channel branding (assuming we could overcome the inherent complexities).


Focusing upon long-form melodies, we set about creating pieces of music that could change, morph, be cut, sliced and diced but would still retain their inherent musical shape. Reference was made to classic visual branding where only fragments may be visible but where the whole may still be recognised (take a look at a fraction of a Coke bottle and you’ll understand what that means). 

We developed what we believed could be ‘classic’ melodies and then set up to demonstrate exactly how they could be used flexibly. That meant taking small melodic fragments of the whole and then arranging them using different instrumentation to sound completely different each time. From rock to pop to ambient and classical. We showed the ITV team how melody itself creates flexibility. Once we had done this (and consequently been awarded the business!) we set about the task in hand; to create more than 100 different versions of the melody in a short period of time, within a constrained budget.


On time, on budget, on brand. The ITV sonic identity went live as planned with variants ranging from baroque to thrash metal. Through collaborations with a globally dispersed group of producers, we were able to scale and deliver diversity, whilst retaining the essential quality of the melody via our in-house producers. After 3 years, the work is still fresh and interesting, delivering on CORD’s promise to ITV that the melodic approach would be timeless. 

With nearly 200 idents now having been created, ITV has a flexible and emotionally resonant identity that will continue to carry the brand through its many successes for years to come. 


Musical consistency across time, territory and touchpoint.

The challenge was to build a recognisable musical identity for Nestle’s biggest brand NESCAFÉ - one that would resonate across different territories and drive consistency in its communications, thereby helping to shape the NESCAFÉ brand world. 


Through an extensive musicological analysis of 30 years of NESCAFÉ'S broadcast communications, we discovered that Latin music was a recurring theme that amplified the product’s provenance.

We uncovered one piece in particular called ‘Embarcadero’, which combines traditional Latin American rhythms with Western contemporary music styles. Through our research, we learned that consumers associated the piece with the comfort, energy and warmth of the beverage.


Melody is the component in music that is most strongly associated with memory. For that reason, our team of musicologists identified a five-note structure within ‘Embarcadero’, which had the potential to be developed into a sonic memory-trigger or mnemonic.

To test the flexibility of these five notes, we composed a series of treatments using a range of musical genres, from folk to electronic to classical, and then synched them to film. This enabled us to demonstrate to NESCAFÉ client stakeholders that the sonic identity is adaptable in style, whilst remainingEndFragment memorable and helping to drive brand recall.  The ‘La Figura NESCAFÉ’ sonic logo was born.


CORD is now NESCAFÉ’s official music agency of record, building a global library of tracks for communications across time, territory and touchpoint.

To date, CORD has created over 100 music assets for 40 NESCAFÉ  markets ranging from short tags using the ‘La Figura’ figure to 30 second compositions for TVC’s, retail soundscapes and even 3 minute pop songs.


What does Summer sound like?

As volume growth in the global ice cream market shifts towards emerging markets, Unilever was looking for new and innovative ways to engage millennials and drive share of mind for their Fruttare brand during their key summer sales period.

Working with the Global Brand team, our task was to define Fruttare's music strategy and then develop a music-first engagement platform to capture the hearts and minds of a notoriously fickle audience. 


Our research revealed that music is ubiquitous in our consumers lives, therefore we developed a strategy built around 3 core pillars where music would play a role in the brand’s communications: identity, experience and currency.

We set out to develop a musical identity for the brand, engage consumers through live or digital experiences and create branded content that gets shared and becomes social currency. 


Our creative team developed a global anthem for the brand called ‘Stay A While’, featuring a truly unforgettable 9-note hook, which was used in the launch TV spot across a number of markets.  The track captured the sound of summer and reflected the brand’s DNA, driving optimism, authenticity and happiness.  We also developed a sonic guidelines toolkit to educate and inspire local markets and agencies on how the sonic identity should be used across different media and adapted into a variety of styles.

To capitalise on broadcast exposure during the global launch, we enabled customers to access the track through all digital platforms and streaming services. We also created original online video content to fuel engagement and conversation.


Since its development, ‘Stay A While’ has been used in every piece of Fruttare brand communication the world over. From TVCs to pop-up and live events, and in multiple pieces of digital content, ‘Stay A While’ has truly established itself as the sound of summer.

The results have far exceeded the original targets set, with 3,701,600 million impressions of the Tiesto remix video In Australia and Mexico, with a Facebook engagement rate of 15%.


Shifting perceptions using the power of music.

Imodium set CORD two challenges: use music to unite sub-brands, and shift audience perceptions of the brand away from a chemical product to a product, that helps you enjoy 'Life in Rhythm' across time, territory and touchpoint. The objective was to create a range of musical assets, aligned to Imodium's brand values and deliver, in audible form, the key traits of the brand personality. 


Our team immersed themselves in a range of historical and current brand collateral. Through an understanding of the brand's new positioning and iterative audio moodboarding, we were able to map key brand values to their musical equivalents and identify a creative route for the future development of a range of musical assets.


We united sub-brands with a single 7-note mnemonic and brand anthem.  In order to educate global brand stakeholders and agency teams on how to incorporate these new assets in to brand communications, we delivered a clearly defined set of usage guidelines.


CORD now acts as the music guardian for the Imodium brand, and works alongside key brand stakeholders and agency teams to assist them in using new music and sound assets correctly and creativelyEndFragment.

Our team provides guidance with both strategic queries as well as production, licensing and administration.