Music as Engagement

Today's extract from HIT BRANDS centres on the universality of music, specifically in relation to the engagement of consumers within a retail environment.

In our earlier chapter documenting the history of music branding, we touched on the physical location of retail, restaurant and hospitality brands. In this chapter, we are going to dive deep into this area and discuss the fundamentals of how brands can use music to really engage with their audience. It doesn't take a mountain of research to know that music, like all emotive art forms, engages and touches its audience.

Let’s look at some recent studies demonstrating that music is the single most engaging art, media or entertainment form on the planet. In 2009, MidemNet and Music Matters conducted a survey to better understand music consumption around the world. They surveyed 8500 individuals across 13 different markets (including China, Brazil, the United States, the UK, France, India, Australia, Canada and more). Sixty-three percent of respondents consider themselves to be PASSIONATE about music. That is an extraordinary two-thirds of the entire population of the Earth! This is in comparison to only 6 percent who indicated that they DO NOT CARE about music.

Similarly, the Youth and Music Survey of 2009 from Marrakesh Records and Human Capital explored the importance of music among British 15-24 year-olds. They found that even though these young adults are unwilling to pay for music, it is still vital to their everyday lives. Sixty percent would rather go without sex than music for a week. Similarly, the 2007 Brandamp study from Millward Brown showed that music is the medium that people would least like to live without (beating the internet, film, books and TV). In the same study, 85 percent felt that music changes their mood. So, we start to see that people value music even though they do not wish to pay for it.

And just as much as people love music, they avoid ads. A recently conducted survey by the National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO) showed that 75 percent of people actively avoid advertising, whether it is on TV, internet or radio. This means people are recording their shows, avoiding banner ads and changing the radio dial during a commercial. If you are an advertiser with a $300 million ad budget, it should cause alarm to know that $225 million of that ad buy is being actively avoided. Using the right music in your ads is one way to engage people and our previous chapters and case studies point to some pretty successful examples. But when we look at the retail level and online social media channels, we find that music offers other compelling and impactful ways of keeping your customers engaged.

We have often understood that music had an impact on a brand's shopping environment. In January 2012, qualitative and quantitative research was conducted in a variety of stores across different markets in the United States including Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles. Over two consecutive days, each individual store was tested with the branded music on and off. From 600 quantitative surveys and 80 shop-alongs, we observed trends in traffic patterns, product and staff interactions and the length of time customers spent in store. In all conversations, we questioned shoppers about the reason for their visit, their satisfaction with the store experience, their reactions to the environment and opinions on the music, or lack thereof. We found that music plays an important role in the store experience - both blatant and subtle — and is a particular driver of energy. Pre-recruited interviewees described the store when music was present as upbeat and energetic, even during slow times.

They even used the brand's own attributes (‘welcoming’ for example) to describe the store, which proved that our soundtrack was successfully underscoring their brand. When music was not present, they described the store as quiet and slow. Beyond energy, music was shown to create a ‘sound shroud’ to help dampen other customer and employee interactions. Music diffused unpleasant interactions with employees and even minimized perceived wait time. On the days when music was present, customers appeared to be more relaxed and move more freely about the store. They were also more likely to browse and pick up products, even after their transaction was complete. One customer was quoted as saying ‘I want music when I am looking at gadgets’.

Perhaps most interesting, the shopping experience was considered to be three times more enjoyable for customers in stores that had the branded music. This supports the idea that music is essential to a productive and pleasant store environment and we would always recommend the presence of music to enhance a customer experience.

Dr Oliver Sacks, the well-known author and professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine, has published several books that discuss the power that music can have on those afflicted with a host of ailments. His research shows that music can help those coping with debilitating conditions, in particular head trauma. When discussing Musicophilia, the New York Times bestseller he released in 2007, he wrote:

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does — humans are a musical species. Obviously, for us and our colleagues and peers, the key in that quote is ‘persuade us to buy something’. And while we can't point to a single, unifying theory that music can make a customer purchase certain products, there are some interesting studies which support the effect that music has on the shopping environment. We will cover those shortly.

Music can be the message

Some brands use music as a foreground component of their brand becoming a tastemaker, being known for their music taste and style. These brands encourage their audiences to discover new music and share what they have found, creating a conversation among their shoppers. To illustrate this, we would like you to go to Twitter right now and hit the search bar. Type in the term ‘playing’ along with any tastemaker brand (think Urban Outfitter, Abercrombie& Fitch, American Apparel). You are guaranteed to see chatter among the audience — either loving (or hating) the music playing in these stores. In fact, at work, we use this all the time to measure how our soundtracks are doing among our clients’ customers.

It helps validate what we have promised for our clients — a compelling and engaging music soundtrack. Consumers who are tweeting the music heard in a store are engaged, whether it is intentional or not. Even though we know that customers are avoiding advertising, we still see that consumers are moved by the music they heard during a 30- or 60-second spot. All over the web, there are websites dedicated to uncovering songs heard in a commercial (see,, for example). These consumers are having a conversation without the brand's involvement, which can be a good thing when people are eager to know the song they just heard. It continues to confound those of us experts in this field, however, why and how brands and the music industry have left it up to consumers to dig up this information on their own. That people are willing to build websites and share this information without anyone asking them to shows how overly compelling music is. Imagine how that conversation among consumers could go if it was actually facilitated by the brands themselves.

A 2000 study by Hargreaves, North and McKendrick found that ‘Music affects customers’ estimates of the maximum sum they would pay for products.’ Knowing that the right music compels an audience to increase the value of a product in their minds is extremely powerful. This goes back to our reason for collaborating to bring you this book in the first place — bringing value, adding value, using music to increase value to a brand.

Looking at restaurants, we have seen studies in which up-tempo music played, say, during lunch service would increase sales, or that diners stay longer and dine longer when slow-tempo music was played at night. This is something that restaurateurs already know — it is obvious — but the research underlines it.

Two studies in the late 1990s showed that music in a store is not a passive experience. The Gallup Organization Survey of 1996 found that ‘33% of shoppers admitted that the music in a store influenced their decision to make a purchase’, while Music Choice reported in 1996 that 91% of shoppers said music affected their behavior’.

Now, it may have affected them to leave the store or shop after a longer or shorter time. whatever, but it did affect them nonetheless. Music is clearly having an effect on your customers — so how can you harness that?

Today, there are countless ways that music can be a tool of engagement for brands. We follow this introduction with conversations with our clients about how a brand can use music to engage their customers. Some take a forward-thinking approach, while others try a more conventional route; some feel music is a cornerstone, while others view it as ‘filling up the silence’ in their stores. Either way, they all agree: the right music for the right customer experience is vital. Have you ever walked out of a store or restaurant because the music is so inappropriate or off in some way? If you answered yes, then you are halfway to understanding this power.

Daniel M Jackson, CEO - CORD

with David Marcus, Richard Jankovich and Eric Sheinkop

Nokia - 'The Sound of Market Share'

Today's extract of HIT BRANDS tells the story of how Nokia came to develop one of the most recognised sounds on the planet.

Around the world the Nokia ringtone is heard nearly 1 billion times per day. This tune was introduced onto Nokia handsets for the first time in 1994 and is still present today as each Nokia phone's default ringtone. One may argue that the figure of 1 billion has simply been plucked out of thin air to drum up excitement and further aid brand recognition. Tapio Hakanen, Head of Sound and Visual Content, has developed a simple formula for validating this figure using the brand's consumer research data:

  1. Currently there are 1.3 billion people using a Nokia handset.
  2. On average a person's mobile phone rings seven times per day.
  3. Research shows that approximately 10 percent of people with Nokia handsets do not change their ringtone post-purchase and continue with the default setting.

(10% of 1.3 billion) x 7 = 910 million

OK, so it isn't quite 1 billion times per day, but this figure ranks the Nokia ringtone as one of the most heard sounds on the planet.

Unbeknown to most, the Nokia ringtone is actually a short phrase taken from a track named 'Gran Vals' by Spanish guitar player Francisco Tarrega. It was this track that was used to accompany Nokia's first television commercial in 1993 and was used consistently across all brand communications for the next year. In choosing this track for its first above-the-line campaign, Nokia made the conscious decision to try and move away from its competitors. At that time, most technology companies were exhibiting a sound that Tapio Hakanen accurately and somewhat amusingly described as 'Feel-Good Business Rock'. From its inception, Nokia has prided itself on being a brand for and of the people. To further demonstrate this, the tagline both seen and heard in many Nokia brand communications over time has been 'Nokia - Connecting People' (see Figure 4). It was for this reason that 'Grand Vals', a human-sounding track played on acoustic guitar, was selected for the campaign in 1993.

From where we are now, Nokia seems to have been a fair distance ahead of the curve in its efforts to appear and sound more human. Modern-day campaigns for technology brands are visually hi-tech and crowded with as many aesthetically pleasing images of enhanced equipment as possible. More often than not, however, they are accompanied by what is an extremely and increasingly familiar human sound.

Possibly the most obvious example of this is Apple's use of music and sound on their communications. Without using the same piece of music across various campaigns or the creation of a mnemonic that is used consistently, the brand has developed a 'house style'. Despite Apple's clear technical prowess, this house style generally does not reflect this and, instead, an acoustic and folk sound convey­ing very human characteristics is exhibited. If the visual elements of the brand are purposely constructed and marketed to convince us of the brand's technical superiority, Apple's use of the Chilly Gonzalez track 'Never Stop' (among others) is a clear example of its desire to maintain a close relationship with its fans, consumers and people in general.

The adoption of this more human sound by technology brands may never have occurred if Nokia had not used Francisco Tarrega's track in their advertising. More crucial, however, to the immediate popularity of this track was its inclusion on the handsets themselves. Today, the ability of a device to play music and sound of the highest quality is imperative. It is quite hard to fathom that it was not until the beginning of the 1990s that this technology was created, with Nokia being the first handset manufacturer to experiment with its functionality.

The first version of the Nokia tune in a handset was a monophonic 'buzzer tone: Nokia then began experimenting with the idea of poly­phonic handsets. When it was clear that these initial developments would change the future relationship between mobile handsets and sound, Nokia dedicated time, energy and expertise to this quest for innovation. The man behind this technology was Thomas Dolby. Born Thomas Robertson, he adopted the stage name of Thomas Dolby after being given it as a nickname by friends in his teenage years. Robertson was never too far away keyboards and tapes, most of which came from the Dolby Laboratories. His friends picked up on his fascination with these tools and quickly began to call him 'Dolby'. Dolby followed his passion for music and began releasing pop records incorporating electronic instrumentation in the early 1980s. Though he never had many hits, Dolby became one of the most recognizable figures of the synth pop movement of early 80s new wave.

Dolby says "It was the beginning of the 90s I was getting pretty jaded with the music business... so I went to Silicon Valley, which was very exciting, and for the first time computer companies were starting to take music seriously"

It was at the beginning of this journey in California where Dolby set up a company that created 'polyphonic' virtual synthesizers. This software not only allowed devices to play musical notes, but more importantly possessed the ability to produce multiple sounds simultaneously. The Nokia tune was already famous from its appearance in advertisements in the form of an audio logo. Dolby's initial engagement with the brand was to work on an updated version of this tune in order to produce an updated polyphonic ringtone version.

Soon after the millennium, this feat was achieved, and a polyphonic version of the 1902 track 'Grand Vais' by Spanish classical musician Francisco Tarrega appeared on Nokia devices as the default ringtone. Dolby's synthesizer was a phenomenal invention, ahead of its time, that transformed the relation between technology and audio forever. His synthesizer (which has undergone constant develop­ment since its first use) has been adapted to fit almost any piece of technology and could almost be termed the world's most purchased musical instrument. The presence and familiarity of the Nokia ringtone in modern life could have been very different, however, if Nokia had not been ahead of the curve.

Nokia has always placed great importance on the sound exhibited by its brand, which is evidenced by the decade-long presence of a spe­cifically designated sound team at the brand's headquarters. This team is responsible for the overall sound of the brand, and Tapio Hakanen breaks it down into three simple sectors:

  1. All device sounds, including ringtones, applications, pre­ loaded music, user interface sounds and the phone's camera.
  2. Marketing and communications.
  3. Events - most recently Nokia World and the Mobile Congress.

The world of brands is an extremely noisy place. The majority of the sound, however, is not functional or at times even intentional. Technology brands, and in particular the brands among these that have developed mobile handsets, have been extremely sensible in intentionally producing and implementing functional sounds in their devices. As with the Apple 'swoosh', when a sound accompanies an aesthetic, it helps the user to identify that an action has been completed so that they can move on to the next part of the user journey.

Each time a new handset is released, new sounds are featured in order to satisfy a specific function and/or action. Not all audio is new, however, with Nokia keen to add a sense of continuity to the sound experience during the customer journey. Nokia pays attention to considerable feedback collated from previous handsets and builds on this in its delivery of newly released material. The most effective of these can be seen when the aesthetic of the sound is in sync with its functionality. Apple's choice of a 'swoosh' rather than a generic beep or bong confirms to the user that not only has their email been sent, but that this action has been done swiftly.

Likewise, Nokia has paid a great deal of attention to ensure that the sounds and music present on their devices not only hold a func­tion in line with its aesthetic, but also effectively complement the additional aspects of the phone. These additional aspects can again be split into three equally important sectors. The Nokia sound department will work along­side these three core teams to ensure that the sounds created are in line with the product and the brand itself. The relationship and continued teamwork between these departments play an extremely influential role in the final sound and music that will be heard on Nokia devices, through marketing, communications and at Nokia events.

The Three Teams

1. Industrial design

This team will be questioned by the sound department about what is currently driving their work. For example, in 2011 the design principles of all Nokia devices were based around the idea of 'reduction'. The design of the phone was about simplicity. Detailed information around the design of the future product provides those entrusted with the sound of the device with the inspiration and knowledge to create the correct sounds to match.

2. Brand team

At the heart of a brand's marketing and communications is the 'positioning' of the brand. What is the essence of the brand? What are its key characteristics? What is the brand promising to deliver to its consumers at that particular time on that particular touchpoint? Sound and music have an immense power to move people emotionally. Any music or sound used across any touch point should align with the over­ all goals of the brand and create an immersive and rewarding user experience. In order to achieve the ultimate effect, the selected sound should work coherently with the visuals, func­tion and/or atmosphere, creating a seamless link between the two. It is for these reasons that the Nokia sound team fully immerse themselves in the overall positioning of the brand before embarking on the creation of any sound elements.

3. Digital user experience team

As previously mentioned, the best device sounds are the ones where the aesthetic is in line with its specific function. Revised formats of the user experience come in waves as and when relevant. These updates could include advances in: device start-up and shut-down, messaging, calendar, alarms and applications. The sound team must be fully educated in the recent developments in order to identify the perfect sound to match the new and improved format, as can be easily seen when comparing the sounds exhibited by functions on Nokia phones in 2005 with the sounds of the most recent device. The contemporary versions of the sound accompanying these functions are far less complicated and are in keeping with the modern, reduced visual style of the handset and operating system.

Nokia's first phone was launched in 1984 weighing in at a little over 11 pounds. It was revolutionary for its time. In 2005 the company introduced its first line of multimedia smartphones and in 2011 introduced the first Microsoft Windows phone handsets when the Nokia Lumia range was released on the market. With a new partnership, and the operating system reverting to that of Microsoft, how would this affect the visual and sound ele­ments of the Nokia handsets?

Tapio Hakanen explained that it would only further enhance the position of the sound team at Nokia. He said: "Now everything is run on Windows, the audio identity is even more important". He went on to explain that this relationship was made significantly easier by the fact that Microsoft's approach to sound is very similar to that of Nokia's. Not only are the two global giants extremely close in terms of their approach, but they are also not worlds apart in their sense of style and views on aesthetics.

Simplicity, purity and humanity play a key role in the design of both visual and sound elements for Nokia - Microsoft adopts the same stance. In the technology industry, there are developments made not only every day but every minute. For a brand to have a presence as long and as successful as Nokia's it must have been doing something right. Since 1984 the Nokia handset has changed dramatically almost year on year. Crucially two elements have remained throughout - the brand's name and its audio identity.

Audio branding can be developed, understood and appreciated by consumers fairly easily. There are three ways in which any brand can formulate a successful audio identity- Nokia has followed this route extremely closely and has ultimately realized its benefits. Nokia was early to identify that the use of a consistent sound that was in line with the brand's overall positioning and identity would be a strong asset for them. Not surprisingly, they stuck with it! In using the techniques below, the brand has managed to create one of the most famous pieces of music ever to be associated with a brand.

The three key techniques the brand operated in order to create a successful audio identity are as follows:

Frequency - this relates to how often one can hear this sound. Incorporating the music from their advertising into their devices as a ringtone and later on as a start-up sound ensured that the Nokia sound would be heard frequently. Simply put, consistency over terri­tory and touchpoint.

Recency - in order to remain in the mind of listeners, a brand should ensure that its sonic identity is used consistently over not only ter­ritory and touchpoint but also time. Recognition and familiarity are key to creating a sonic identity for a brand. Nokia has achieved this by sticking with the same core melody as the original theme tune.

Relevancy - the world of branded sounds is extremely busy. In order to stick in the mind of the consumer, a brand's sonic identity must not only be distinctive but also match the product it is accompanying. The sonic identity of a brand must be flexible enough so it can be adapted over time to keep pace with developments in technology and soci­ety. Nokia has adapted the original melody on numerous occasions in order to work alongside new handsets and marketing campaigns.

The Nokia ringtone was first implemented on the Nokia 2110 in 1994 and has now been modified eight times in order to keep pace with developments in other areas of the brand and the handset. The latest version can be heard on Nokia's 2011 N9 handset. Creative develop­ment does not stop at Nokia. Another new version of the Nokia Tune will be launched alongside the 2013 range of Nokia's Windows phones. Since the emergence of BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone, Nokia sales have taken a hit. Their sales team always has one sure-fire way of identifying whether those around them have Nokias. It is an inside joke at Nokia that sales data is often collected by the team when landing by airplane. How do they know how many people on the plane are in possession of a Nokia handset? Because they hear the short phrase taken from Francisco Tarrega's 'Grand Vals' when impatient passengers switch on their mobile phones as soon as the aircraft hits the ground - or, as Nokia employees refer to it, 'The Sound of Market Share'.

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD and David Marcus, Managing Director, CORD

The Sound of Contactless Payment

oday in HIT BRANDS we journey back to 2011 when CORD and Barclaycard embarked on a journey to develop the very first sound of contactless payment.

The year 1966 was not only an important year for football in the UK; it also represented a change and development in the method in which people approached the 'payment moment'. It was in this year that Barclaycard, part of Barclays Retail and Barclays Banking, became the first credit card to be introduced in the UK.

Barclaycard was ahead of the curve and did not face competition in the UK for another six years, when the Access card was intro­duced. Even today with Europe's utterly saturated credit card market, Barclaycard remains the continent's leading issuer of cards, with 10.4 million customers in the UK alone.

The brand's innovative nature has always been reflected in the way that it has communicated with its audience. As the first credit card to hit UK shores, the first challenge for Barclaycard was to help the public understand the potential benefits and offers that came with using a Barclaycard, in place of the more traditional payment methods. In the early years following its conception, paying for items using a credit card instead of by cash or cheque felt extremely for­eign to most consumers, so the brand had a very practical challenge ahead of them. Barclaycard knew that they had to be sure to explain the process in the simplest possible terms. If not there would be a threat of customers not following the necessary instructions and, in turn, not adopting the card as a new means of payment. The need to explain how to use the card, as well as its function­alities, led to Barclaycard communications relying heavily on text to educate consumers and resulted in the brand often being identified as a 'talking' brand.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s Rowan Atkinson, star of the comedy series Blackadder and Mr Bean, appeared in a series of Barclaycard commercials playing the role of error-prone spy Richard Latham. This series of brand communications was predominantly centered around Atkinson's comedic displays, with the first commer­cial showing Latham receiving both a Barclaycard and information on his upcoming mission. In the commercials that followed, the ill­ fated spy was accompanied by a protege called Bough, whose role it was to entertainingly endorse the use of the Barclaycard while flaunt­ing its benefits.

Through these communications, Barclaycard quickly became associated with comedy while still maintaining its presence as a 'talking' brand. While this was successful, it did not leave much room for music to play a significant role. Music of course would be the brand's best shortcut to brand awareness, far more than the entertaining but lengthy use of comedy and wordplay. Barclaycard's use of music was considered on a case-by-case basis: some of the commercials contained music to fit the scene and others didn't. The reason for this was a concern that music would detract from important brand messages and guidance for usage contained within the script.

The brand continued to evolve, providing contactless credit and debit cards to customers. This method enabled customers to both pay for items and withdraw money from terminals without the need to input a pin number or sign a receipt. These innovations, how­ ever, did not stop there and in May 2011 Barclaycard partnered with Orange to launch 'Quick Tap: the UK's first contactless mobile phone payments service. This now allowed customers to hover their mobile phone over the contactless readers positioned at tills and make purchases of £15 or under. With approximately 52,000 Barclaycard contactless payment terminals already installed in spaces such Starbucks, Subway and Wembley Arena, this is fast becoming the pre­ferred method of payment for goods priced below that £15 threshold. The introduction of the contactless payment devices coincided with a change in positioning for the brand. This positional shift acted as the catalyst for Barclaycard to move from its traditional 'copy-led' advertising and become a much more emotion-led brand.

This revelation encouraged brand leaders to make key decisions that would have a great impact on the way in which consumers would view Barclaycard. It was important for the brand to register that any positioning work should not only be relevant to the current climate but also take the future of payments into account. It was the emerging technologies such as digital, mobile and contactless payment that persuaded the brand to adopt a new role in the eyes of consumers. They wanted to be seen as a 'payments organization' rather than a traditional credit card provider. This was a subtle but vital change. Another important decision was taken with regard to the brand's target demographic. The positioning work aided the brand to identify that they should go beyond targeting a specific demographic and instead work at identifying and attracting a spe­cific type of consumer. This helped Barclaycard to focus their efforts and produce products, services and communications that are rooted in customer insight.

With a change in positioning and target consumer base, came a change in the brand's identity. This focused on moving the brand from a very rational space to one that forged an emotional connec­tion with customers. This was all centred on the idea of 'Liberation from Complexity: The implementation of this new identity was a real statement of intent, and showcased how the brand intended to change and adapt to the demands of modern society. 'Liberation from Complexity' as a concept carries with it a great deal of emotional connotations. It emerged with marked and considerable differences to the brand's prior communications, which were prose-heavy and whose purpose was to blatantly promote the features, benefits and offers associated with possessing a Barclaycard.

The paradigm shift was not immediate, however, and as the work was going on behind the scenes of the brand, there was a series of Barclaycard commercials on air starring comedy actors Stephen Mangan and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Once again these centered on humour and were extremely popular and well received, achieving huge Audience Appreciation Index (AI) scores. In addition to this, they were incredibly successful in driving business to the brand.

With the new identity waiting in the wings and despite the posi­tive acclaim for the current communications via those commercials, Barclaycard knew that the celebrity and comedy approach could only take them so far. So in order to satisfy its new identity, the brand knew it needed its communications to convey this higher emotional feeling of liberation in very clear terms.

While the brand planned its evolution, it also identified a disrup­tion that was occurring in the market and a change in consumer hab­its, specifically concerning people's social media activity. Advances in technology, particularly in the payment sector, were also occur­ring, with customers developing relationships with brands such as Paypal and eBay.

Barclaycard decided to meet this change head-on with its own dis­ruption in the form of a new and specific kind of branding. This was an extraordinarily brave move as it would have been far simpler for the brand to continue down their traditional comedic/celebrity route and make incremental adjustments as and when necessary. Instead, they decided to replace their successful campaign with a route that went in an entirely new direction.

Their new 'Waterslide' television commercial in 2008 still had the charm and humour of their previous commercials, but had moved them away from their reliance on the spoken word to con­vey their message. 'Waterslide' was an imaginative commercial and a bold first attempt at visually displaying their new brand identity to the rest of the world. The commercial showed an office worker wearing a suit, about to embark on his commute home. Instead of the traditional options of public transport, car or walking, the pro­tagonist boldly strips down to his boxer shorts in the office, then casually struts down the large, open-plan space to a point where he begins his commute via waterslide. With the huge tube passing through a crowded underground station, library and supermarket, the office worker inside glides through the hustle and bustle of the city, relaxed and happy, even having time to purchase a banana. The convenience of this purchase is, of course, completely optimized by the use of his contactless Barclaycard along the way.

This commercial presented a unique and completely different side to the brand and was successful in signifying change in the mind of consumers. Barclaycard was different and, crucially, clearly able to give the consumer a fun and adrenaline-filled life. The commuter's journey home was extremely easy and stress-free in comparison to the journeys of those around him.

The script for this commercial presented a stark difference to the Barclaycard commercials of old because there was very little spo­ken word, almost none from the character himself. With less focus on the usage benefits of the card itself, this allowed music to play a more prominent role in the commercial. It was vital, however, that with no prose to convey the new brand initiative of 'Liberation from Complexity', the music was able to deliver this emotion.

Music as we know is a universal component used by brands to plug emotion into their marketing communications, but even in our role as strategic music advisers to a brand, we will always remain adamant that the communication itself is paramount. If the music disrupts this (even if the music is great) then no one wins.

In the case of 'Waterslide: the focus of the communication was 'simplicity' and this was largely achieved through the visuals. This was the story of an ordinary male office worker travelling home in a manner that would make everyone stand up and think 'I wish my commute was that effortless'. The track that was chosen enabled Barclaycard to elicit an emotional communication instead of a func­tional one, which allowed them to truly utilize the power of music to convey the desired brand emotion.

The chosen track for 'Waterslide' was 'Let Your Love Flow: hail­ing back to 1976 by a band called The Bellamy Brothers, a country act from Florida, that reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It was felt that this track not only complemented the visuals perfectly but also translated the exact emotions that Barclaycard was attempting to exhibit. While everyone felt instinctively that they had chosen well, there was some worry that with the brand's efforts to enter the modern world of contactless payments, this track may have been too 'retro'. It was eventually decided, however, that although it was over 30 years old, it worked perfectly with the commercial. For us as music supervisors, this is the Holy Grail - undeniability.

It was not long until the team's decision was proved right, with the commercial and its soundtrack receiving extensive praise. It was not planned for the song to become a 'hit record' but the team were, of course, delighted when Chris MoyIes of BBC Radio 1 dedicated a great deal of airtime to it. The track went viral and sparked a flood of online conversations and a subsequent influx of YouTube hits. This exposure led to the track being rereleased into the singles chart - even showcasing a Barclaycard sticker on the CD casing. The track reached number 21 in the UK chart and has since become synonymous with the brand. The positive impact was immediately recog­nized through an increase in new customers and through the results of their 'front of wallet' behavior.

Following this success, it was abundantly clear that music would now play a huge role in the development of the Barclaycard brand in the modern era. Stepping away from 'wordy' communications, it was imperative that music should help viewers to connect to advertise­ments on an emotional level.

In 2010, Barclaycard aired their next contactless payments campaign. Using the blueprints from 'Waterslide', BBH created 'Roller coaster: this time the story of a male leaving an apartment on his morning commute to the office. Again the protagonist feels free and liberated, using the rollercoaster that snakes round buildings and along sidewalks as his mode of transportation. As he goes along he looks down on the bustling streets filled with commuters who are struggling and sidestepping the oncoming rush. So easy is his morning journey that he even has time to stop en route and purchase (using his contactless enabled Barclaycard) an apple and a bottle of water. Again the emotion conveyed is one of joy, simplicity and liberation - all summed up by our protagonist's nonchalant throw of his apple to a nearby co-worker upon entering the office.

The music, as with 'Waterslide', played a significant role in complementing the narrative and communicating the feelings that were inherent to the brand. The selection of this track under­ went the same meticulous routine that 'Let Your Love Flow' had previously survived. The success of that track created a platform from which BBH could begin, with the retro element now an inte­gral part of the search process. Once again many tracks were sug­gested and dismissed before 'More Than A Feeling' by 70s American rock band Boston was eventually selected. This triumphant rock track was the perfect accompaniment to the visuals, which translated beautifully the feelings of freedom and liberation you would experience if you were able to travel to work on a private rollercoaster.

Unlike 'Let Your Love Flow; 'More Than A Feeling' did not re­-enter the singles chart. This, however, did not take anything away from what had been a brilliant campaign accompanied by an impec­cable music selection.

The success of 'Waterslide' and 'Rollercoaster' as music-centric communications soon led the brand to explore more opportunities around the music industry itself.

In terms of sponsorship, the brand was most famous for its presence in sport - most prominently the Premier League in the UK. At this point in the brand's life,  however,  a conscious deci­sion was made to move away from sport and to concentrate on the music space.

Why Music?

Music (unlike sport) is not divisive. Most people at a concert come home happy. At a football match, half the people come home unhappy. It was important for Barclaycard to move away from its stance as a masculine brand and become slightly 'softer'. A stronger manifesta­tion in the music space allowed for the brand, again unlike sport, to lessen the limitations of any gender skew.

Already involved with the ticketing programme for the Mercury Prize, it was not long before Barclaycard became the main sponsor of the event. Their music activity continued to expand with sponsor­ ship of both the Wireless Festival and the NIA arena in Birmingham - relationships they still maintain today. It has been quite a jour­ney for a brand that previously had no association with music but a transition that has rapidly opened up a previously uncharted audience.

It was incredibly important for Barclaycard's brand to be seen as less macho and altogether more inclusive. This need to appeal across boundaries was extremely pertinent as the brand began making its first strides into the digital world. In its own right, music had already made that move, so it was now time for the brand itself to face the numerous challenges that came with its own entry.

With the introduction of varying contactless devices and elec­tronic payments, the payment moment for the consumer is now smoother, easier and more convenient than ever. With more and more transactions being carried out online, how does one identify with the brand during a transaction moment? To counter for this loss of physical touch and feel, it was suggested to Barclaycard that sound both could and should begin to play a more prominent role in the payment moment.

The aim of implementing a sound into the contactless payment moment was to functionally and audibly signify a successful transac­tion made using a Barclaycard. It was also crucial that this sound not only evoked feelings and emotions that were intrinsic to the brand, but that it was also timeless, easy to understand and adaptable across territory and touchpoint. Therefore in order to successfully translate the brand's beliefs, the sound would need to convey a sense of both reassurance and liberation.

In order for CORD to fully comprehend what the make-up of the final sound could be, it was important to educate ourselves in what consumers are used to hearing. Subsequently we performed a deep dive into the psychology of the 'beep,' immersing ourselves in the world of beeps, from everyday sounds including super­ market checkouts, to the financial beeps emanating from ATMs and a host of other branded beeps heard on mobile phones and games consoles.

The audit allowed us to analyze where Barclaycard's new sonic brand should 'live' in the congested and convoluted world of beeps and sounds that surround us. Having assessed what con­sumers would already be familiar with in this space, it was clear that the majority of sounds were far from distinct. Without the accompanying visuals, it was fairly challenging for the layman to separate the 'everyday' beeps. The sounds of the analyzed financial beeps were likewise not particularly distinct but in fact proved to be slightly more familiar. These sounds, such as the sound of an ATM dispensing cash, were functionally clear but they were generally conveyed without much feeling or emotion.

It was clear that, in stark contrast to the analyzed financial beeps, it was complex sounds rather than simple beeps that characterized the words of branded beeps. In order for Barclaycard to stand out, it was imperative that its sound was distinctive. The ability of these brands to convey emotions meant that a feeling of success was often associated with them. As the aim of the Barclaycard sound was to signify a successful Barclaycard trans­action, it was important for the final sound to replicate this feeling. This meant that the sound would need to be not only functional but also emotional. At this point we needed to research the brand's historical use of sound and music across all touchpoints. This would help us to acknowledge any consistent music, sound, genres and instrumenta­tion used by the brand over time and identify whether this should be carried forward and accounted for in our development of the new sonic logo.

We analyzed material from television advertisements, mobile games and applications, radio advertisements and on­ hold services. Our work confirmed that there was in fact no unify­ing sound acting as a glue to hold all of the brand's communications together.

The audit process is designed to highlight any consistencies which we may want to carry forward into the creative phase of projects. Likewise it can be incredibly useful for highlighting mass incon­sistency. It encouraged Barclaycard to implement the necessary changes in order to create a form of consistency across their market­ing communications.

Taking what we had learned from our audits of both the world of beeps and Barclaycard marketing communications, our creative team began the audio mood-board stage of the process.

This iterative process allows us to explore the musical representa­tion of the brand's personality. Similar to the process of tearing segments from magazines to conjure inspiration, we search the world of existing music and sound, to discover sounds that 'fit' the brand. This process allows us to identify any specific styles or genres or even a certain pace, rhythm or instrumentation that could be inherent to the brand's DNA. The first iteration could contain up to 25 short clips of music or sound that are mapped on a board to match key words associated with the brand.

This tool allowed Barclaycard to both vote and give feedback on the sound clips immediately, for analysis by CORD. Clips that did not receive good feedback were eliminated from the process, while the preferred tracks remained and were used as guidelines in the search for further examples. This process was repeated once more until there remained a small group of tracks that truly represented the sound of Barclaycard. Using these tracks as inspiration, we set about the task of fusing seemingly familiar elements that would combine to create something new, surprising and inspiring.

The New Approach - Background

Based on the brand personality and customer benefit - to liber­ate people from complexity - the sound should make the listener feel that Barclaycard has helped make their life easier and that the simplicity of things that 'just work' is freely available via them.

Technical spec

•         A piece of music lasting 1.5-2 seconds: ensure it is memorable but not annoying or self-indulgent.

•         3 or 4-note melody. After exploration, this is felt to be the right amount of notes for the sonic to feel distinct and simple.

•         Medium to fast tempo, with inventive sounds and in a major key, to create a distinct and positive sound.

From here we cast our net far and wide and began working with composers all over the world to create the new Barclaycard sonic logo. They were provided with our guidelines, the reference tracks from the moodboard phase and a brilliant animatic. The movement of the animatic was also something to take into account when composing the music that would accompany it. It is always far easier for a composer to work with a picture than without.

The composition phase (much like the moodboard process) was iterative. In total we created and listened to approximately 100 separate logos. Having played a selection of these to Barclaycard, the concepts that were not enjoyed were ignored and scrapped, while those that were liked continued to evolve. Once this process had been repeated a number of times, all that remained were three preferred routes for the sonic logo. These three options were then put forward for consumer research, which would play an important role in the final decision.

Taking the consumer research into account, key Barclaycard stake­ holders made their decision, and the new Barclaycard sonic logo was born. Now each time somebody used his or her contactless Barclaycard or mobile phone to pay for an item, this sound signified that a success­ful Barclaycard transaction had occurred. In addition, this new sonic asset would be integrated into the brand's marketing communications. Now that the development of the sonic logo was complete, it allowed for the exploration of other areas where Barclaycard could improve its use of music and sound. As previously mentioned, Barclaycard was extremely successful in choosing individual tracks to accompany specific communications. This led to a number of fantastic music-centric television commercials. Yet again, however, there appeared to be nothing in a musical sense that united them or connected them to any other Barclaycard communications.

CORD helped the brand to construct a set of musical guidelines for the selection of music in their communications. The brand and those tasked with sourcing music for new communications (existing or newly composed) were now fully equipped with the tools to make their decisions. The guidelines would not only guarantee the use of high quality sound on all future Barclaycard communications, but more importantly safeguard a clear form for all of the brand's future marketing communications.

Since the completion of this project we have worked alongside the brand to use its new sound asset and guidelines in the correct man­ner. The brand has already used its new 'Open World' sonic logo on a number of mobile phone applications - featuring a great deal on multiple mobile applications, on its on-hold account servicing system, and is in the process of integrating it in various mani­festations into digital campaigns, its website and above-the-line communications.

Barclaycard may be a card provider, but its appearance now goes beyond the visual rectangular piece of plastic with which we are all familiar. It may not be long before you forget what it was like to experience this brand in just a traditional plastic format, but as with all hit brands, you will always be able to hear it.

Go to to hear the Barclaycard 'Sound of Contactless Payment'.

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD and David Marcus - Managing Director, CORD


NESCAFÉ's Music Identity

Today's extract of HIT BRANDS takes us back to 2009, when NESCAFÉ and CORD teamed up to explore the brand's musical heartland and build a sonic framework for the future.

ALLOW ME TO WAX LYRICAL about a plant that has become so globally and unbelievably important that it warrants a case study all to itself. I'm talking of course about coffee, a substance that a con­siderable percentage of the globe would consider themselves unable to function without. Every day, approximately 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world1 and yet most of us would be seriously challenged to even identify a coffee tree residing in its natural habitat.

Coffee came to life, so urban legend goes, when an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi discovered some new and deceptively abun­dant trees. These trees, often as tall 30 ft (9 m), bear berries on their branches and it is these precious coffee berries2 that are the true treasure. Having picked and tasted the berries on offer, Kaldi pro­ claimed that he was too spirited and unable to sleep and, on informing the local monastery of his findings, a drink was concocted from the berries that subsequently kept the monks alert long into the night. It did not take long for the news of these berries and the effect of their consumption to disperse to neighbouring regions. And so began the journey that would in just a few hundred years dramatically impact on the drinking, eating, working and purchasing habits of citizens from all across the world and all demographics.

Now grown and sold across the globe, it was the people of the Arabian Peninsula during the 17th century who became the first to both cultivate and trade the product. For religious reasons the popu­lation of this region was, and remains today, largely prohibited from the consumption of alcohol. So as locals began purchasing coffee and experiencing many of the effects of its consumption, its popularity in this region grew rapidly, not least as a substitute for the banned substance of alcohol.

For those early adopters and the modern-day population who enjoy it now, coffee represents something far greater than a warm, dark drink. For those who love it (and we know how many people do) coffee is often the ultimate comfort beverage, one that deliv­ers beyond taste and refreshment and that plays an integral role in the shaping of emotions - from stimulation all the way down the scale to relaxation. The surge in energy originally experienced by Kaldi the goatherd and described as spiritualistic, was in fact (unknown to him) a result of consuming the stimulant of caffeine. A stimulant can be described as a psychoactive drug that induces temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both. Caffeine is the world's most widely used psychoactive drug and it causes increased neuronal activity that triggers the release of the hormone adrenaline. It is this adrenaline that leads to great, if a little false, improvements in mind and body, most commonly seen as enhanced alertness, awareness, endurance, productivity and motivation. Such is the psychoactive power of coffee that one does not even need to ingest it in order to reap its full benefits. According to the 25 June 2008 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, solely a sniff of its aroma is enough to activate several genes in the brain. Following the smelling of this aroma, it is the effect of a sud­den increase in awareness that has led to the modern-day idiom of 'wake up and smell the coffee'.

How many times have you tried to set up a meeting or rendezvous, offering to catch up over coffee? This again is not a modern phe­nomenon. The first coffee houses in the Arabian Peninsula quickly became popular haunts that the locals came to in order to conduct their business as well as social affairs. They also acted as a draw to the area for visitors who often referred to the coffee itself as the 'wine of Araby', another comparison with alcohol. Culturally, of course, since then coffee has become a stimulant, a comfort, a ritual and also, sometimes, a necessary response to a night of over-indulgence.

Coffee's reputation was spreading far and wide after its initial cultivation, and everyone wanted to be in control of both the end product and the supply chain. Outside the Arabian Peninsula, the Dutch were the first to begin growing coffee in what is now known as Indonesia. This initial movement of the product sparked the ori­gins of coffee trees all around the world, particularly in the South American region. Such was the extent and success of this glut, that new countries were established on the back of the industry and it did not take long for the worldwide demand for coffee to lead to it becoming one of the most profitable export crops available to market.

Today, the United States is home to approximately 20,000 coffee shops with combined annual revenue of $10 billion. Coffee bar chains sell an ambience and a social positioning more than just 'good' coffee. In short, the global coffee chain has gone through a 'latte revolution ', where consumers can choose from (and pay dearly for) hundreds of combinations of coffee variety, origin, brewing and grinding methods, flavouring, packaging, social 'con­ tent' and ambience.

At the turn of the 20th century, a Japanese-American chemist by the name of Satori Kato, based in Chicago, invented instant coffee. The advances he made enabled people, for the first time, to pre­ pare coffee by just adding hot water. It was George Washington, however, an English chemist living in Guatemala who invented the first mass-produced instant coffee. It came about during his time in South America, when he truly began to understand the product and began a process of experimentation. Under his guidance the first instant coffee was introduced to market in 1909 under the brand name 'Red E Coffee'.

In 1930, Brazil, the world's largest coffee producer, experienced a significant surplus of the commodity and required assistance in preserving their product. Subsequently, the Brazilian government reached out to Switzerland-based NESTLÉ, the world's largest nutrition company.

NESTLÉ was the brainchild of Swiss pharmacist Henri Nestlé. Extremely concerned by the amount of infant mortality as a result of malnutrition, he attempted to create an alternative source of nutri­tion for children whose mothers were unable to breastfeed. In 1905, NESTLÉ merged with their biggest rivals and not only added sev­eral new ranges to their food products (including chocolate) but also spread the company's operating platform globally. Upon engagement with the Brazilian government's request, under the watchful eye of their coffee specialist Max Morgenthaler, NESTLÉ attempted to create a form of instant coffee that kept the original taste and aroma. On 1 April 1938, NESCAFÉ (a blend of the words  'NESTLÉ' and 'café') was introduced in Switzerland. NESTLÉ's overall profit plummeted during the Second World War. The conflict, however, reaped a positive effect on the introduction of their newest product, as NESCAFÈ became the staple drink in the rations available to the US military. In fact, American forces played a key role in the brand's development due to their acting in the role of brand ambassadors across Europe. Popularity soared and NESCAFÉ continued in its attempts to push new technological boundaries. In 1965, with the launch of Gold Blend, NESCAFÉ introduced a form of freeze-drying technology that allowed them to create a high-qual­ity soluble coffee that truly incorporated the full aroma and flavour of each coffee bean. You see, it all comes back to the bean.

As a result of the multiple advances made in both production and technology, NESCAFÉ is now used as an umbrella brand for a range of instant coffee products that has hosted close to 40 different vari­ants of the brand to date. And what a brand it is. Every second of every day approximately 5500 cups of NESCAFÉ are consumed around the world. Today, NESCAFÉ is present in over 180 countries and produces up to 200 television commercials annually with marketing and com­munications across a variety of other touchpoints. NESCAFÉ has been part of some historic moments in advertising and has produced some of the most famous television commercials and marketing communications of all time.

The home of NESCAFE has remained in Vevey, Switzerland, where all key brand decisions are determined. Despite the overall authority residing with this central NESCAFÉ team, it is the indi­vidual international markets and the incumbent agencies that play a key role in the day-to-day representation of the brand in marketing and communications.

Music is a hugely powerful tool that can plug emotion into brand communications. The desire of NESCAFÉ, like any other brand, is to increase customer loyalty and become recognized, appreciated and loved. Music and sound can be extremely effective in making connections (particularly on an emotional level) with an audience and help them grow and develop an affinity to the brand. NESCAFÉ has created a number of sound assets over time - none, however, regarded strong enough to stick. Since it first began advertising the product, NESCAFÉ has not been able to exhibit ONE consistent brand sound during its success­ful run of delivering communications to its audience.

CORD encouraged NESCAFÉ to create a sound that its audience would love and over time immediately associate with the brand. CORD's challenge on behalf of the central brand team was for the brand to exhibit a harmony in their audio selections where all the music and sound would pull together in the same direc­tion. The end result: 'La Figura NESCAFÉ; as shown in Figure I.


Figure 1

'La Figura NESCAFÉ; akin to most other successful sonic logos, contains a melody. Melody is the component of music that is most readily processed by our brains and it merely requires a low level of involvement from the listener to become recognizable and memo­rable. As a result, this part of the identity is usually at the heart of a successful sonic logo.

CORD's initial engagement with NESCAFÉ was to answer the question 'What should the sound of NESCAFÉ be for the next ten years?' The development and introduction of a successful sonic logo to be used consistently across time, territory and touchpoint was key, but it was not the sole concern. NESCAFÉ is a brand that is steeped in rich tradition. Consequently, it was crucial that the new sound of the brand was representative of an evolution and a bringing together of recognizable elements from NESCAFÉ's music heritage.

In order to define and dictate the musical DNA of NESCAFE for the future, it was fundamental to the process that CORD examined and understood the historical sound of the brand. Over time there have been three pieces of music that have been used somewhat consistently across NESCAFÉ communications. The first of these, 'La Colegiala', was used for the first time in 1985 when it appeared in arguably NESCAFÉ's most famous television commer­cial named 'Le Train'. During the 1980s this track was used frequently across the brand's television advertising and became a founda­tional element of the sound of NESCAFÉ. Constructed of a typical Colombian Cumbia that utilizes the offbeat Latin rhythm, this track rapidly became part of the national repertoire in Colombia.

The second piece of music used intermittently by the brand was named 'Embarcadero'. This was first employed on NESCAFÉ's famous 'Father and Son' commercial from 1993. This piece of music builds on the foundations of 'La Colegiala' by combining traditional Latin American rhythms with Western contemporary music styles.

In 1998 NESCAFÉ took the decision to create a global sound. A bespoke composition evolved that incorporated an element of the NESCAFÉ heritage: the Embarcadero figure. The song 'Open Up' was born and the phrase 'Open up, Open up; combined with the Embarcadero figure, quickly became a household track during the 1990s.

Until recently, these three pieces of music were still used across the world in NESCAFÉ communications. Although retaining distinc­tive hooks and conveying the true values of the brand through music, the full power of these musical assets was never truly harnessed. The analysis of these tracks, however, a part of a brand audit and analy­sis, allowed CORD to discover key musical elements which would be important to maintain as part of the brand's future sonic identity. For this reason, the audit and analysis section of the CORD process was essential before any creative phase. Irrespective of the brand in question, historic explorations can include anything from advertising, telephone hold systems, mobile applications, office music, events and corporate videos. Wherever it may be, we always uncover some heritage within this body of work, even if it is best forgotten. The audit and analysis can often deliver some interesting, remarkable and even breakthrough information. This dive into his­torical material will uncover a brand's own instinctive approach to sonic branding and the results are used as a reference for the future to ensure a truly consistent approach. While often highlighting inconsistencies, the predominant purpose of this stage is to uncover consistency in a brand's music themes and trends.

Of the 100 television commercials across a range of markets that were analyzed, it was found that 4 percent used 'Embarcadero: 6 per­ cent used 'La Colegiala' and 6 percent also used 'Open Up'. Each asset was individually loved in their own right by the brand and conveyed the correct feelings and emotions. Had these tracks appeared more frequently, it is possible that one or more would have become an anthem for the brand and have been a real hit. One clear consistency across markets was their use of acoustic guitars, ritual sounds (sounds associated with coffee preparation and drinking) and, most intriguingly, Latin rhythm and percussion.

NESCAFÉ's musical heritage originated from the coffee-rich regions of Colombia and Venezuela (northern South America) and so the most distinctive feature of this music is Cumbia beat as fea­tured in 'La Colegiala'.

Having explored NESCAFÉ's historical use of sound, it was clear there was a strong presence of Latin heritage. The warmth and 'Latin spirit' of the music combined this energetic dotted Cumbia rhythm with live instrumentation of the Colombian region - panpipes, acoustic guitars and Latin percussion. The resulting sound musically, geographically and historically shared its origins with the product, the NESCAFÉ coffee itself.

This deep investigation of historic NESCAFÉ material allowed us to formulate a clear idea as to which musical elements were key to the brand and should be carried forward to the creative phase of the process. The simplest way to exhibit our thinking was in the form of a DNA word cloud. The wordclouds showcased instruments used, as well as adjectives best placed to describe the impact of the music in the NESCAFÉ TV commercials analyzed. Displaying the separate elements that combine to create marketing communications allows key decision makers to re-immerse themselves in the world of the brand. It also allows them to begin questioning what factors are truly important to the brand and how they should be communicated to relevant markets. For example: is NESCAFÉ conveying the correct emotions to its audience with its current musical selections? Are marketing communications fully expressing the Latin heritage of the brand in sound? Are the instruments used in marketing communications in line with the historical sound of the brand?

Without experience, music is an extremely challenging subject to discuss. CORD believes that by allowing key decision makers to examine the sound of their brand, not in music but words, prevents confusion and subjectivity as well as successfully eliminat­ing personal preferences. The uncovering of a brand's sonic heri­tage can be incredibly powerful for helping these guardians of the brand to realize just how important sonic branding has been for their brand in the past. It also helps them to fully comprehend the power of music and the effect it can have on their future marketing.

As a result of the complexity of the subject, it is essential to formu­late clear guidelines. Whether the music is set to be a bespoke com­position or a famous piece of existing music selected by a supervisor, having a set of guidelines in place will allow those responsible to make educated decisions. The objective is that by following the cre­ative process a consolidated understanding of the music and sound strategy for the brand is shared across all markets and incumbent agencies. If adhered to correctly, any and all music and sound that accompany the future communications should contain consistent music themes that are true to the DNA of the brand.

Remembering is an intrinsic part of human nature. For a long time people involved in branding have recognized this and have placed the importance of being memorable, both as a brand and in brand com­munications, near the very top of their priorities. In the context of advertising, memorability refers to the level to which an audience, after exposure to an advert, is able to retain the information presented. The simplest way to ensure that each NESCAFÉ communication con­tained at least one consistent sound was to create a sonic logo for the brand. A sonic logo is the symbol of a brand in sound. Normally around three to five seconds in length and melodic, a brand must use this short burst of sound consistently across all marketing and adver­tising communications. The desired effect of this usage is the ingrain­ing of the sound into the mind of the listener. This is referred to as an 'earworm' (originally from the translation of the German word Ohrwurm) and represents the experience of having a tune or part of a tune stuck in your head for a sustained period of time. This is what we are looking to achieve when creating a sonic logo, as often the person experiencing the 'earworm' has no idea why the tune has emerged and also has little control over how long it remains there.

For the first time in its history, NESCAFÉ communications would contain a sonic logo. This was an extremely brave step for the brand to take, but one that could have a phenomenal impact on the way its agencies approached future creative work. By now, the importance of building associations between people, sound and brands was clear. At this point, with that importance assured, CORD worked alongside NESCAFÉ toward a model of successful sonic branding creation that would enable the brand to communicate its emotional values across time, territory and touchpoint. When designing the sonic logo these were the three filters that were taken into consideration:

1.   Accessible - The sonic logo must be easily understood by all listeners. If the sound is too complex it is unlikely to become either loved or memorable.

2.  Adaptable - The sonic logo must be written with flexibility in mind to ensure that it can be adapted over time, territory and touchpoint as well as reorchestrated across multiple genres.

3.  Timeless - The sonic logo must be able to stand the test of time. The key to longevity is in a strong melody.

It was crucial in the creation of this logo to take into account NESCAFÉ's successful historical musical assets. As a result, we scru­tinized the three previous musical assets of the brand against our sonic branding filters. On completion of a series of musicology reports, it was decided that in order to move forward in the creation of both a sonic logo and a deeper sound strategy, it would be the 'Embarcadero' figure that would be retained. The first of the historical NESCAFÉ musi­cal assets to be eliminated was 'Open Up'. Having only aired for the first time in the late 1990s, this piece of music did not have a great bearing on the brand's musical history. The melody of the chorus, despite its distinctive nature, was also not Latin in feel and thus no longer corresponded to the brand's musical DNA. Keeping close in our minds our sonic branding filters and the information learnt from the audit and analysis phase, it was decided that the Embarcadero figure would be easier to re-orchestrate across all genres and was more distinctive and memorable than its counter­ part, 'La Colegiala'.

Guidelines have now been created that outline the new music sound strategy for NESCAFÉ. The brand already does a stellar job in picking great music to suit its communications. In the same way that NESCAFÉ uses its visual logo or the red coffee mug across multiple territories, this audio strategy will aid them going forward to bring all their communications together as part of the same NESCAFÉ family. This information is now used as a reference tool by all global markets producing NESCAFÉ marketing communica­tions. In conjunction with 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' the document con­tains all the strategic, technical and creative information required to create expressions of the brand that are consistent with the iden­tity and thereby relate back to the belief and values of the brand. Creatively, the guidelines describe the sonic language and sonic logo adequately and will ensure that all the music and sound exhibited by NESCAFÉ is not only consistent but also the desired emotional fit with the brand.

' La Figura NESCAFÉ' is representative of an evolution and a bringing together of recognizable elements from NESCAFÉ's musi­cal heritage. The Figura is a modern, flexible and dynamic interpre­tation of the NESCAFÉ music's DNA. A fusion of Latin rhythm and the Embarcadero notation, this five-note melody allows for flexi­bility across genre, mood, territory and touchpoint.

With 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' now fully in place and appearing on marketing communications around the world, it would be very simple to say that our task as music advisers and suppliers is com­plete. The reality is quite the opposite. Successful sonic branding is the creation and consistent management of timeless, accessible and adaptable identity and experience, meaning that now NESCAFÉ has a musical asset at its disposal, there are countless other directions in which it can be utilized.

The incorporation of this new sonic identity is no mean feat. NESCAFÉ teams across the globe have welcomed these new ele­ments of the brand with open arms. Everyday, companies like, and even thousands of individuals, are writing music for brands all over the world. Irrespective of how good or bad these new creations are, their success and the eventual impact they have on the brand truly depends on the co-operation, dedication and satisfac­tion of the local brand and agency teams. The de-centralized nature of NESCAFÉ, which may have originally posed a threat to the suc­cess of this strategy, has not proved to be a problem, with all markets responding positively. In this way, the incorporation of 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' into global campaigns could accurately be described as the largest and widest sonic identity rollout ever witnessed.

For the past year, CORD has worked alongside the incumbent agencies across multiple territories to incorporate 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' into marketing communications. During this time, we have seen 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' used in two different ways:

  1. Tag - Using 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' at the end of communi­cations. This is the traditional role adopted by sonic logos in advertising.

2. Integration - Composers have taken 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' and woven the five-note melody throughout a longer piece of music. Markets have already begun creative work on a selec­tion of longer form bespoke compositions which contain 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' woven throughout the pieces. These longer works are not only in line with the newly devised NESCAFÉ sound strategy but also offer an alternative method of incor­porating the sonic logo in a more innovative manner, into NESCAFÉ brand marketing communications. This direction represents an extremely modern approach to sonic branding of which NESCAFÉ sits at the forefront.

To date over 40 territories have incorporated 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' into their communications - a phenomenal response to a project that has only been active for the past 12 months.

Sean Murphy, head of the NESCAFÉ brand, was key to the imple­mentation of this new sonic asset and sees this as the start of some­ thing extremely exciting for the brand. He said:

"Agencies across the World have become familiar with the process of utilizing 'La Figura NESCAFE' and adopting the newly devel­oped music guidelines when composing or selecting a track for use in their communications. The creative minds that have already established NESCAFÉ as one of the World 's largest global brands instantly acknowledged the tremendous range of creative pos­sibilities available to them following the development of our own distinctive melody. Managing the sound of a brand, like its many other facets, is beautifully complex but our teams around the World, alongside CORD , have made a very good start towards establishing 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' as a global asset."

In time, the use of musical guidelines and 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' will dramatically increase overall NESCAFÉ brand consistency and become a soundtrack loved by all those who hear it. Our job now, as NESCAFÉ's strategic music partner, is to ensure a culture of musical excellence that aids the brand to maintain its past and current suc­cess. If the brand and its agencies continue as they have started, it is inevitable that NESCAFÉ will fulfil its aim to make 'La Figura NESCAFÉ' the most famous five notes in the world.

Film Case Study:

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD and David Marcus - Managing Director, CORD

Music As Identity

Today's extract from HIT BRANDS describes the ongoing process of managing the identity of the brand in sound across time, territory and touchpoint.

Throughout the history of humanity, people have been using music to identify ideas and beliefs, tribes, teams and nations. Music is a natural phenomenon; a unifying love and lan­guage with deeper and more emotional meaning than any other, so it must come as no surprise that whenever and wherever a brand seeks to identify itself, music should be at the centre of that identity.

This chapter is not the only place to learn about how music forms a part of a brand's identity. It is not the only section of this book that deals with the subject because, semantically, everything a brand ever does with music contributes in some way to its identity. But to make things clear, this section deals in the first instance with the corporate identity of a brand and examines how music lines up alongside col­ours, shapes, typography and iconography within a brand's register of assets.

Corporate Identity

By way of introduction, it is worth laying out what corporate iden­tity really is, what it does and why it is important. Sam Sampson, the branding guru, described corporate identity to me as the first stage of any relationship between a corporation and the consumer. He under­stood that the core components of an identity are the things the con­sumer can see or hear, and that the written or spoken name of a brand is the most important element of the corporate identity.

Naming has always been critical to defining a brand. In fact, the New Oxford English Dictionary defines a brand as 'a type of prod­uct manufactured by a particular company under a particular name'. This rather dry definition of a brand highlights the importance of names and it is fairly clear to see that without one, no brand has an identity. When we are considering music as forming a part of a brand's identity, therefore, we have to consider how and where the brand name fits with the music.

Taking a logical step forward, it's fair to say that any name exists not simply as a metaphysical entity but as a real word that can be written or spoken. The written word has always been the dominant form of corporate identity and, as printing and design have pro­gressed through the years, the visual styles within which the words have been written have become ever more complex and emotionally nuanced., which boldly makes the claim to host the world's largest collection of fonts, has well over 100,000 typefaces freely available. Each of these has a subtle but discernable difference that may be used to convey a distinct emotional driver of a brand when viewed in print or on screen. There are 2058 different colours defined in the Pantone Goe System. Pantone developed their original system of standardized col­ours to facilitate the printing industry's desire for consistent reproduc­tion, and today Pantone sets the global standard. We live in a colourful world and I struggle to think of any brand that is solely black and white but even if you can, there are 34 whites and over 70 different blacks from which to choose.

So, here's an amazing equation. For even the simplest brand to express itself visually through printing its single colour font, on a single colour background, there are 423,536,400,000 possible combi­nations. That is a staggering number of options, so it is no wonder that most people these days go for a simple sans serif, if only to nar­row the choices to something like a manageable number. With too many choices we become paralyzed, which is perhaps why so many brands choose to copy others rather than stand out from the crowd. Helvetica, anyone?

A mark of distinction

If the number of choices within corporate identity have exploded, it is also fair to say that the sheer number of entities seeking an identity has also gone through the roof and into the stratosphere. While the proliferation of brands has been a hot topic since I started in adver­tising 20 years ago, the truth is that we didn't know how fortunate we were to be in a world where new brands launched every month. Today they launch every hour, in their hundreds, via digital market­ places and 'app stores' where corporate identity real estate is a small icon, a name, some meta-data and, most critically, user reviews. Very few of these new offerings gain any major recognition and in many respects the app market is a direct descendent of the music industry. There are lots of contenders, very few hits and while every app - just as every artist - has an identity, very few of them could go on to be called brands.

So what is a brand and how does 'being a brand' differ from sim­ply 'having an identity'? This is a topic on which libraries of books have been written, so here is a little synthesis and synopsis. Brandsare our emotional responses to the products and services that we are offered and consume. A subtle point here is often lost on the more arrogant executives; the brand's value is ours, as customers and stakeholders. We decide how we feel and despite the whistle­ blower Martin Lindstrom claiming we are all being emotionally 'manipulated; it is more a case of the adage that the 'truth will out'. Companies can project their identities onto the world but only their customers can decide what the brand really means to them, how they will react to it and how loyal they want to be.

In this context, a brand's identity is really a small part of the brand as a whole. It is an important part, nonetheless, acting as a signpost to where we can find the brands we love. The identity has the same functional needs as any traditional signpost. It must be clear and point only in one direction. But in our age, when we exist in so many physical and digital dimensions that we can no longer be certain of which way is up or down, just writing the name of a place on a white arrow is no longer enough to differentiate an identity and help us navigate to our chosen brands.

Today signposts use color-coding, symbols (as currently being understood through the practice of 'semiotics') and sounds. Each of these works together to create today's multi-dimensional, multi­ sensorial corporate identities. That those identities have taken on third and fourth dimensions is a common-sense response to hav­ing access to the rich media environments afforded by technol­ogy today. The downside is that an identity 'arms race' has been created, where every brand is seeking to add more and more dimen­sions to their identity and consequently the cognitive load upon the consumer is increasing massively. Fortunately, our brains seem well set up to process multi-sensory messages and there is plenty of research that tells us that bi-modal visual-auditory sensory experiences in particular are processed very efficiently by two of my favorite parts of the brain - the superior temporal gyrus and intraparietal sulcus.

It's not brain surgery

Anyone who thinks that neuroscience has anything to teach us about how music can create a 'hit' brand identity needs his or her head examined. I've read the books and conducted experiments using brain imaging during listening, but I'm yet to find out any­ thing useful when it comes to creating hit musical identities. What I know about creating hits is what I have learned from experience, which is why Eric, Richard and I have made a conscious decision to focus on case studies of work with which we have been personally involved.

In this section, we have two contrasting cases - NESCAFÉ and Barclaycard - both brands with which I have been deeply and per­sonally involved for some years. The reason these brands have taken up years of my life rather than the few weeks it might take to create a mnemonic or jingle is simple. A 'hit' brand identity in music is not a one-off project. It is an ongoing process of managing the identity of the brand in sound, across time, territory and touchpoint. It encom­passes not just the design of musical 'signposts' but the soundtracks to TV commercials, video content, physical devices, apps and any other digital media where sound is enabled and the brand has a presence.

So while this section starts in corporate identity, the reality of music as identity is that it relies heavily on a brand's communications- ads and content - to become real, to live and breathe and ultimately to be a 'hit'. So let's be under no illusion, it is the ad agencies that still control the method of creating brand hits. They are trusted with the most critical creative processes that put music into a customer's ears via the media, without whose support musical identities cannot exist. This is why it is such a shame that ad agencies are the last major busi­ness area to embrace the music planning approach, the final piece in the jigsaw to support a strategic use of music and the development of musical assets for a brand.

I'll know it when I hear it

The worst excesses of the ad industry, the deepest seated issues they have in their lack of process or governance, the basest of their instincts and the greatest of their strengths are summed up in this simple phrase. 'I'll know it when I hear it' has become the greatest cliche of the music-brand relationship with regard to advertising music. Ad agencies have used this truth - we'll all know it when we hear it - to avoid having to engage with the concept of music plan­ning, which is usually deemed to be creatively inhibiting.

Consequently, the last ten years of growth in sonic branding have mainly taken place outside the ad agency, in independent businesses, servicing the brand directly. While this was a shame for the early mover music planning agencies - ad agency support could have really accelerated the growth of ideas - it is now becoming appar­ent that things are getting better. There is a new cordiality between ad agencies and those with music identity processes, as music has ceased to be a universal joy in the ad process and has become expen­sive, in terms of both money and time, in relation to other produc­tion elements.

More important to this new, peaceful relationship is the advent of musical identities and strategies that are in line with the core associ­ ations of building value into brand assets, at the same time showing sympathy to the difficulties of the communications process. Given how mired the advertising process has become in the complexities of the consumer and media landscape, it is still a minor miracle any ad ever sees the light of day. The reliance upon testing and research has arguably gone too far with many major advertisers (arguably not far enough with others) and the difficulty for a creative team to con­ jure a new line or a new positioning is now greater than it has ever been. It is natural then that any process (such as sonic branding) that removes one level of complexity and delivers the framework for high levels of creativity should begin to be embraced.

What is a hit identity?

The successful signpost is clear and points in one direction. So it is with musical identity. The listener should recognize what they hear, and understand the brand to which the identity refers. All great sonic branding ticks these two boxes and can be measured through two simple questions to listeners: do you recognize this sound? And can you tell us the brand with which it is associated? Hit identities can and should be measured and valued through these foundational research questions. Think of any jingle or mnemonic and it will score really well with these questions. For a long time in the history of advertising, good recall and a link to the brand were the only measures that mattered - in fact they drove a lot of behaviours that resulted in the overwhelming popularity of the jingle as an advertising trick of the trade. But recall and association, though fundamental, are not the only measures of a hit musical iden­tity. They are simply functional benefits of having a well-designed 'ear­ worm' (from the German Ohrwurm) and being able to afford or having access to enough listener impacts to embed the worm in the ear.

The next level of judging a hit has to be aesthetic and emotional. The measure of the emotional impact of the musical identity can best be summed up through the research questions: 'Do you like this music?' and 'What does it make you feel?'

If the answer is that the music is liked and that the feelings are in line with the objectives of the brand, then we start to have some­ thing really special - a musical identity that is no longer a signpost, simply pointing at a destination, but is now also a symbol for some of the ideas of the brand. This is much more powerful, as a system of symbols can be used flexibly and can be taken out of context while retaining meaning. Most importantly, musical symbols, just like their graphic equivalent, work perfectly well without syntax. This makesa musical symbol capable of meaning the same thing across the globe, whereas the jingle or sung copy does not travel nearly as well.

When designing the musical identity for brands, I start with the aim of creating a set of musical symbols that are clear, recog­nizable, have the ability to be inextricably linked to the brand and share the brand's emotional context. This is not a simple task and it is not always understood at the beginning of a process how this varies from developing a functional mnemonic or simply finding a good piece of music for an ad. Given that you're reading this far, you may be interested to understand the difference, so I shall explain a little.

Mnemonics are easy

Musical mnemonics, of the kind asked for by clients and (in mod­ern times) reluctantly delivered by ad agencies, are empty vessels. They shout 'Remember me!' at the listener but do not, intrinsically, have anything worth remembering. As far as briefs go for the musi­cal identity, 'write me a mnemonic' is entry level - it just about gets you a ticket but don't expect to see the show from way back there in the bleachers.

A mnemonic - a device designed to aid memory - in the context of music usually manifests in one of three ways: a jingle, a sung ad copy or a sting. For the avoidance of doubt, a jingle rhymes, sung ad copy doesn't and a sting has no copy at all. An arch example of a rhyming jingle would be 'For Mash Get Smash' from the UK in the 1970s. Of the hundreds of examples of sung-cop y mnemonics, I’d cite Tm Loving It' from McDonald's and, finally, Intel Inside is the classic sting. Creating any of these devices is not terribly hard. Being memorable is something that music just 'does' without too much effort. The only real consideration, assuming that the creative has the correct 'craft' as songwriter or composer, is the difficulty in getting a brand's many stakeholders to sign off and agree on the ideal mnemonic. Of course, I am totally in favor of a brand's music or sound being memorable. It's just that I, along with other right­ minded thinkers in music planning, believe that the music should do more - that memorability is not the sole aim and purpose.

The future for mnemonics is already here and it is audible in sounds such as the iPhone 'swoosh' that signals an email being sent. You can also read about it in the Barclaycard case study in this book. The next-generation mnemonics work across touchpoints and their main purpose is to signify some kind of function or meaning. In the case of the 'swoosh' it is a successfully sent email; in the case of Barclaycard, a successful payment. Memorability is something inher­ent in the sounds but it is a secondary concern to the sounds being linked to things that happen in 'the real or digital worlds. When a sound has utility, it is more easily accepted by the listener - being useful is always a good thing. If a brand can own the sound of a func­tion (as Apple does with a sent email) they may have a serious hit on their hands. Only a few brands are trying to achieve this but inno­vation has a long nose and we can see it coming!

Music is easy!

Finding the perfect soundtrack for an ad, or any other singular expression of a brand, is easy - comparatively easy, of course, but the numbers stack up. There are tens of millions of songs available, they're all searchable by lyrics and genres via web platforms, and picking one that will appeal to the majority of stakeholders is not that difficult when compared to what's really hard. So why do com­munications agencies make such a song and dance about it? Why is music so often a pain point rather than a pure pleasure? Part of the answer is cultural. Agencies view music as relating to a single communication instead of being a part of the brand identity. This is because most brands have not taught their agencies that the develop­ment of identity and assets is of paramount importance. If they did, then music would not be leased and returned on an endless cycle but would be commissioned and owned.

Ownership of music is an intrinsic element of building a music identity. You cannot lease or borrow your own corporate identity, which means either brands must start with a clean sheet and com­ mission new compositions and acquire all rights, or they must find pieces of music that are 'ownable'. This is what Nokia did when it created the Nokia tune and then through repeated use of time, ter­ritory and touchpoint it built the case for 'owning' the piece through a musical trademark. Nokia stands as one of the few brands in the world to have understood how to develop a musical identity and it continues to lead the industry on consistency and identity manage­ment. Its case study is well placed within the music as identity section of this book (see Chapter 4). Even though Nokia has made great efforts through the years to establish music as a part of its brand experience and as currency, its only true hit has been the Nokia tune. But was it an intentional hit or a happy accident?

Hit brand identities are hard

We are writing this book for people who want to create hits and this section is for those who want hit brand identities. It makes sense, therefore, to include as a case study the biggest hit with which we have been involved. Over 24 months and with enormous input from our client, CORD Worldwide has developed and launched the musi­cal identity for NESCAFE. The work has, at the time of writing, launched in more than 30 countries and is well on its way to achiev­ing its aim: to make the NESCAFE musical identity the most famous five notes on the planet. That I have personally overseen this work is a matter of pride. That it is successful is down to the team and the method of execution, and I need to be clear and say that noth­ing about the process was easy. It involves the use of functional and aesthetic sounds and is deeply rooted in the heritage of the brand. It is rapidly developing as an archetype of next-generation music plan­ning, with central ownership and development of assets, together with de-centralized ownership of communications and nuance. We hope that in reading this case study you may be inspired to create your own hit identity to rival NESCAFÉ's.

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD

with Eric Sheinkop and Richard Jankovich

Rough on Rats

HIT BRANDS is the second in a series of books about the relationship between music and brands. In today's chapter we examine the evolution of this partnership, tracing back to the first published commercial jingle in 1882.

Music is bigger than itself

The history of music and brands is best described as a palimpsest. The relationships have been written and rewritten many times but the roots are still visible and still inform the present.

In the present field of music and branding, which is extremely vibrant, there are people striving to be the first to launch a new and innovative idea. Whether it is being the first brand to own their own recording studio (Converse's Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn) or the first brand to embed their sonic logo into a pop song (Coca-Cola and K'naan's 'Wavin' Flag'), our peers and colleagues are always clamour­ing to adopt new technologies and new paradigms for music-brand partnerships. Every week, technology offers new opportunities for music branding through apps, devices, social networks and traditional for­ mats such as broadcasting, film and events. And when we talk about music branding we are specifically talking about brands using music as a tool in their marketing and communications, whether they are trying to engage with their consumers via free content or to reinforce their brand identity. This idea feels very contemporary but it bears noting that the concept of music branding has its origins long ago.

In fact, if we look at instances where music acts as a vessel for messaging (as it does in, say, commercial jingles) we can look all the way back to Gregorian chant. In 600 AD, Pope Gregory collected and codified all the Catholic chants. The citizens of 600 AD did not sit around and rock out to Gregorian chant on their headphones, rather this music acted as the conduit by which the Church could trans­mit dogma to its audience. Therefore, Gregorian chant, commonly thought to be the oldest recorded Western music, is also the earliest example we have of music that has messaging embedded within it. People learned these chants and it helped them retain the teachings of the Church while aiding in the spreading of their beliefs.

As the world progresses, we see music adopt many different pur­poses greater than itself. National anthems become the standard method for countries to drum up patriotism, particularly during times of war or global events such as the Olympic Games. Religious hymns, like Gregorian chant, continue to help the world's religions spread their teaching and beliefs. Lullabies become a vital tool in par­enting, with just one single purpose: putting children to sleep. Folk music becomes the easiest way for societies to transmit their stories and folklore down to the younger generations. Music has always been there - pushing our societies forward, providing a soundtrack to our belief systems and the evolution of our cultures.

The birth of jingles

A quick definition: the word 'jingle' has come to mean lots of differ­ent things but ultimately is as simple as 'sung copy'. Strictly speaking, it should rhyme but in reality, it does not have to. It started off refer­ring to a rhyme, then to one that was sung, and it has now become a generic term for any lyrical musical expression by a brand in adver­tising. But let's go back to where it all began.

In the 1500s and 1600s, the crowded London streets were filled with bustling shops and street yellers. These men and women would stand on the streets and sing short musical quips about the prod­ucts that were for sale in their shops. These savvy marketers were using music branding tools before we even had brands! Some of these jingles survive as children's nursery rhymes even today. Many of us remember 'Hot Cross Buns'. originally a street yeller jingle, and while we may not know exactly what a hot cross bun is, we do know that they are 'one a penny, two a penny'. These street yeller jingles were revolutionary and laid the groundwork for classics like 'I Wish I Were An Oscar Meyer Weiner' or 'Plop Fizz Fizz'.

In 1882, a rat poison company released what just might be the first published commercial jingle. 'Rough On Rats; containing the mem­orable pop hook 'We give a plan for every man to clear his house', was published as sheet music and was distributed in order that people could sing along on their home piano. Remember, this was a time in American history when every home had a piano instead of a stereo and people bought sheet music to be able to hear the new hits. It is amusing to imagine a roomful of family members listening to this jingle being performed in their living room.

For the first recorded jingle we turn to 'Have You Tried Wheaties?' from 1926. General Mills was close to pulling the poorly perform-ing Wheaties cereal off the shelves, but a savvy marketing manager in Minneapolis commissioned this jingle to fill radio airtime rather than a typical voice-over spot. By the end of the year, they evaluated their sales and found that of the 53,000 cases sold in the US, 30,000 of them were bought in Minneapolis, the only market where the jingle had aired. This offered irrefutable proof that the jingle was an effective marketing tool and started a trend in advertising that still exists today.

In 1944, one commercial jingle leaps from the advertising medium to become a hit song. Chiquita Bananas 'Chiquita Banana Song' transcended the commercial from whence it came and became a fixture on American radio. At one point, the memorable jingle ('Bananas Taste The Best And Are Best For You') was aired 376 times a day on the radio. It's around this time that the golden era of jingles in the US takes off and brings us such classic lyrics as 'Hamm's the Beer Refreshing', 'Nobody Doesn't Like Sarah Lee' and 'Rice-A-Roni , The San Francisco Treat!'

In 1971, the most impactful and lasting commercial jingle hit the airwaves - Coca-Colas 'I Want To Buy The World A Coke; of course - and this became a worldwide phenomenon. This jingle was so meaningful to Coke's consumers that people began calling radio stations and requesting it. That is an advertiser's dream scenario: free airtime for your jingle. At one point, in the Billboard Top Ten, there were two different versions of the song charting at the same time. The world has seen many jingles since but none as powerful and transcendent as this one, and soon the advertising industry began shifting away from original jingles and toward licensing existing songs in their ads.

Appropriating music in advertising

As already uncovered in 2003 by Daniel M. Jackson's Sonic Branding: An Introduction, in 1905 the songwriting team of Gus Edwards and Vincent P. Bryan wrote a song called 'My Merry Oldsmobile' which became a big hit for sheet music and popular artists. The song had the then somewhat risqué line: 'You can go as far as you like with me in my merry Oldsmobile: By 1908, Oldsmobile began using the song in its marketing as an anthem and in 1927, the Jean Goldkette Orchestra was invited by General Motors to make an updated record­ing of the song. What makes this interesting is that it starts a trend of agencies licensing existing songs for their clients.

Through the l960s, 70s and 80s we see this start to take off, albeit almost always with very popular songs - think Sunkist's 'Good Vibrations' (in the US) or Levi's 'Heard it Through the Grapevine' (in the UK) - but a major milestone occurred in 1999 when Moby released his seminal album 'Play'. Now that may not seem innova­tive or original upon first glance but it represents a dramatic change in the way brands and the music industry work together. On top of being the top-selling electronica album of all time (10 million cop­ies), 'Play' was unique in that all 18 of the album 's songs were licensed to appear in either a commercial, television show, film or video game, many of them even before the album was released. The songs appear in commercials for brands as diverse as Nordstrom, American Express, Nissan, Volkswagen, Baileys Irish Cream and Super Bock Beer. Fatboy Slim's 'You've Come a Long Way Baby; out around the same time, also saw a massive amount of licensing, such as ads for NYSE, The Virgin Suicides,the Pittsburgh Steelers and PlayStation. Around this time, we had shows like Dawson's Creek telling us where to buy the music we heard on the show, and a real trend where the music industry and the branding and entertainment industries are starting to work together. Commercials also begin to become a new promotional channel for albums.

Brands slowly begin to realize that there is more to the power of music than just the jingle or the commercial license. In an early example of a deep, strategic relationship between an artist and a brand, between 1951 and 1963, Dinah Shore acted as the voice and spokesperson for Chevrolet, which included the unforgettable line 'See the USA in your Chevrolet, America's the Greatest Land of All': Shore sang 'The Chevy jingle' at the opening and closing of every one of her shows and became synonymous with the brand. During the 2011 Super Bowl, American audiences of a certain age were thrilled to hear the memorable jingle, this time sung by the cast of Glee.

In 1981, The Rolling Stones were about to embark on a US tour, but before doing so signed their first tour sponsorship agreement with Jovan Musk. In this deal, Jovan Musk paid $1 million to have their logo appear at the bottom of posters and ticket sales for the tour. This partnership proved fruitful for both parties and so began the tour sponsorship industry. By 1985, pop music and marketing were becoming synonymous and Pepsi released a commercial that was often mistaken for a music video. Michael Jackson's 'You're a Whole New Generation' was set to the tune of 'Billy Jean' and was even more famous for the pyrotechnic error that almost cost Jackson his life. The pay-off for Pepsi was huge and people began calling radio stations to request the Pepsi song, rather than the original single. Marketing and music tie-ins had become the norm by 1986, illustrated so clearly when even Rolling Stone magazine began pub­lishing an edition titled 'Marketing Through Music' specifically to track the latest music-brand pairings.

By 2004, when faced with how to release their new single 'Vertigo', U2 decided to premiere the song in an Apple iPod commercial rather than the typical cycle of press, radio and promotions. And by 2008, Groove Armada, a successful European electronica act, decided it no longer even needed a record label, opting instead to release a new recording through Bacardi.

Soundtracking physical spaces

Something dramatic happened in America in the 1930s. Skyscrapers went up in big cities and people were faced with something new: elevators that went up 30, 40, 50 stories. Understandably, people were nervous about getting into these metal boxes, so a company called Muzak was born to pipe in relaxing music and soothe these nervous elevator riders. Muzak, founded in 1934, started a revolu­tion of music being provided to businesses, offices and in just about every public and private space.

By the 1980s it was becoming more usual for stores to have music playing, and by the turn of this century it had become a common business requirement. Brands today have complex audio identities and custom music programs designed to accentuate their brand iden­tity, engage with their target demographic and create a compelling and deliberate environment. Whether a brand such as Abercrombie & Fitch (with its well-known and polarizing retail soundtrack) or a brand such as Sephora (which we will explore in Chapter 6), every major retail or hospitality brand today uses music as a central com­ponent of the shopping experience.

Chimes, IDs, Sonic Logos                        

There is much debate as to when the first sonic logo originated. Television and radio stations had been using station IDs for decades and NBC's three-note sequence is widely considered one of the most successful examples of a branded chime. But in 1994, the entire notion of mnemonics was turned on its head when Intel commis­sioned the 'Intel bong' from composer Walter Werzowa. Intel included this five-note audio signature at the end of not just their own commercials but also on any PC that was using their processor. As a result, this sonic logo was heard once every five minutes in its heyday in the late 1990s. Today, sonic logos or stings remain a popular model for linking music and brands, albeit one that may be viewed as 'residual' rather than dominating current thinking or representing the future musical elements of a brand's identity.

Where we are today

Today, the music branding (or sonic branding) industry is thriving, made up of consultants, original music composers, music licensing agents, background music companies, lifestyle marketing agencies and the struggling legacy music industry itself, which has created departments devoted to brand partnerships. In 2010, Billboard and Adweek hosted the first 'Music and Advertising' conference in New York City, which represented a meeting of minds between brands, agents and musicians.

In 1999, when sonic branding was still in its infancy, the agency Sonicbrand conducted a study in which fewer than 10 percent of brands responded that they considered music as part of their brand­ing. A similar study in 2009 by Heartbeats International found that '97% of top global brands think that music can strengthen their brand'. The industry and profile of music for brands has come a long way and today brands seem to be acutely aware of the importance of music across all their various channels.

Customers engage with brands through music in the product itself, while present in retail establishments, while viewing and hear­ing brand messages in advertisements, while encountering the brand in new environments such as music festivals and concerts and even with on-hold messaging and voicemail systems. Brands invest in music for all these touchpoints but at the moment, they tend to do so in silos. While this is not ideal, it is the reality and the reason why we have split this book into three parts, dealing firstly with music as identity before examining music as engagement in the physical space and music as both hard and social currency.

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD

with Eric Sheinkop and Richard Jankovich







5 GIGS YOU CAN'T MISS THIS WEEK: 25th September - 1st October

The last week of September has something amazing for people who love the music scene in the UK. Get out there and support the talent that surrounds you!

 Jazz in the Round, Monday 25th September 2017,  The Cockpit Theatre in London


On the last Monday of every month a group of talented musicians are thrown in to create an unforgettable night of contemporary music. They are joined by Headliners: Liam Noble/Tom Herbert/Seb Rochford and soloists, Tom Hewson Solo (with new Bosendorfer Grand Piano) Album Launch.

Get your tickets here


The Wilko Johnson Band 30th Anniversary , Tuesday 26th September, The Royal Albert Hall


This is a once in a lifetime event where Wilko celebrates the 30th anniversary of the “Wilko Johnson Band” and celebrating the guitarists 70th birthday. Due to Wilko being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, this celebration is much more meaningful. Don’t miss the event of a lifetime.

Get your tickets here


RHYS CHATHAM presents Guitar trio 40th anniversary, Wednesday 27th September, Jazz Cafe Camden


Rhys Chatham, a legend of the New York avant garde scene is celebrating his 40th anniversary with his guitar trio. He has a range of work going from minimalism and no wave to experimental and punk rock. He stands next to his contemporaries Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Come down and celebrate with lots of music and fun.

Get your tickets here


Justice, Thursday 28th September 2017, 02 academy Brixton


The duo are coming back to the London scene since we last saw them in 2012. Their debut album was released 10 years ago. These guys know how to throw a party with their amazing electronic music which you will dance all night long to. Don't miss it!!

Get your tickets here


Discovery 2 , Thursday 28th September 2017, Venue 229, London


At this years September discovery showcase venue 229, is joined by Gramercy Park Indie Rock band from Sheffield, Itchy teeth a known noisy pop, Laura Elvin who has a mixture of rock, classical, pop, Jazz and an amazing songwriter Martyn Peters. This night is full of a variety of music which will keep you moving until the night ends.

Get your tickets here


On this weeks label series we are going to talk about Positive Records (created by EMI). At the end of this post if you like what you read and you love dance music, go check out the playlist that has been created at the bottom of the page containing some of the labels most successful tracks that you can rock out to.

Why do people love dance music? Dance music is something everyone listens to, it is a form of music where you can let loose and not think about anything. The label Positive Records has helped produce some of the most well known dance tracks that have been played in clubs all around the World.

This legendary label was founded in 1993 by Nick Halkes who previously ran XL Recordings and was approached by EMI to help set up their new label along with Dave Lambert, Nick Robinson. Since this label has been around they have helped the younger generation create music that will bring back the hype that was once owned by Punk music. In February 1994, a DJ called Erick Morillo, who was not well known the time, produced a track called “I Like To Move It”, this track hit the billboards hot 100 and managed to hit NO.5 on the UKs singles chart and is known as “club classic”.  Over the years they signed more artists such as Barbara Tucker who released tracks such as, "Beautiful People" and "Stay Together” in 1995.  Alice Deejay's “Better Off Alone” which became a hit track in the U.S and Europe, Kenny “Dope", pres The Bucket-heads “The Bomb” NO.5 in the charts, and many more. He is mostly known for signing the dance act “The Prodigy”.

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Positiva records has now been running for 20 years have continuously been releasing successful music. They have now had so many tracks such as “I Could be the One” by Avicii & Nicky Romeo, hitting No.1 on the charts which is really pushing their reputations as one of the most successful Dance labels around, "Titanium" by David Guetta, being know to have sold over 1 million UK singles and so so many more. With more coming from these artists the label It is safe to say that Positiva records has so much more to bring to the evolving dance music scene. They have helped create history by producing so many successful artists who have gone on to influence the younger generation to do what they love and be themselves.

There is a lot more coming from Positiva so keep your eyes peeled for some amazing music that will be coming your way.





Why Brands Hold All The Aces

This week's extract of HIT BRANDS describes the 'intentionally irrational, explicitly obtuse and unapologetically illogical state' of the B2B market for music.

Introducing the Hit Brands Model

If the game is called Hit Brands then the aim of the game is to create value between the players: consumer brands, customers, musicians and the agencies that connect them together.

Everything we do is aimed at building, adding, banking and spending 'value' in some form or another. Value is not necessarily monetary; though dollar signs certainly help us to keep score. Value is not soft and fluffy either, there always has to be a measure. Value is a combination of practical, emotional and reputational factors that combine to deliver measurable benefits to the business.

In setting out to write this book, the three of us set ourselves the goal of fully defining the complex relationships between music and brands. In doing so, we discovered a model that (to date) has been both specific and general enough to allow us to classify all the case studies we have seen into just three essential categories that together touch all the various components of any brand. The creation of our model is useful as, now defined, it provides a framework for creating and measuring value. It serves neatly as shorthand for the types of activity that brands undertake, and also enables us as practitioners (albeit with interests in the theoretical) to help the marketing and music industries to talk together positively and with clarity.

This sidesteps us to another reason why this book had to be writ­ten. The music industry as defined by its key stakeholders - artists, labels, publishers and distributors - has traditionally viewed the marketing industry, comprising brands and their agencies, as little more than a piggy bank. The view that brand money was somehow 'soft; to be taken and spent as a kind of bonus or subsidy to the 'real' music industry pervaded throughout the late 20th century and into the start of this century. The only thing that has changed in recent years with the demise of physical sales of recorded music, is that the record business (the part of the music industry that used to sell plastic discs to people) has run out of steam so thoroughly that any­ one left in that business is not only lucky to have a job but probably smart enough to know that playing nicely with brands is a smart idea. Each of us is on the receiving end every week of hundreds of requests from the music industry on how they can get involved with brands. So the music industry has had to work out how it can bring value to brands. Not just by way of licensing tracks to commercials, which we could label as the lowest common denominator in the Hit Brand model, but also by moving into truer partnerships, where a brand's ability to distribute music is appreciated, and music's ability to con­nect with an audience is paramount. Distributors used to be the people who would ship first vinyl, then cassettes, then finally compact discs to retailers. They would physi­cally distribute music to the public through the retail channel while the public, completely in the thrall of the music industry, was utterly addicted to buying and owning recorded songs. Then everything changed. First with Napster, then with a slew of torrent sites for peer- to-peer file sharing, and now streaming ser­vices such as Spotify, Pandora and even iTunes have come along to feed the public's addiction to music to such an extent that they no longer need to buy CDs. People still need to hear music; in fact it is now a ubiquitous accompaniment to every waking moment from the alarm in the morning, to the gym, the commute, shopping, at work and at play. But people don't need to own it any more and certainly don't need to pay anything like the levels they once did for the joy of ownership. We know that music has value in spite of people's reluc­tance to hand over their cash for a copy.

So the buyers stopped buying, the retailers stopped selling and consequently the distributors stopped distributing. So what? So the people making and recording music lost part of their ability to get heard, to get in front of a buying audience. No longer 'racked' and promoted in store, the music industry had to find new paths to mar­ket. Live concerts filled the void, as did a return to old-fashioned radio plugging and as much online and direct-to-consumer activity as they could manage. While the rest of the music industry was in flux, however, one line of income stayed steady and started to grow. You could call it the Business to Business (B2B) music industry, which has been a con­stant and a salvation for many record labels and publishers. It has an intact supply chain, in fact its distribution model is growing all the time. It is a fully functioning market and though it is, forgive the pun, a little 'unsung; it nonetheless provides the context within which hit brands reside.

Brands are acting as distributors of music. The money they spend on licenses and the media amplification of the music they choose makes them a serious force for breaking new music, getting it heard and even getting it bought. This is a truth and also an opportunity that some brands are failing to realize while more and more brands are managing to seize. The budgets that successful businesses across industry sectors are putting into the music industry are significant but the value of the assets being created in 110 way reflects the invest­ment. Why are brands - and we use the term as a shortcut for the marketing and advertising folk who control the budgets - unable to see that they hold the aces? That the music industry does not serve them well and that things could be so much better?

It has always occurred to us, your humble authors, that the B2B market for music is almost wholly irrational, by which we mean there is 110 globally accepted method for choosing the music for a brand, no globally accepted method for pricing the music for a brand and no globally accepted method for measuring the usefulness of music for a brand. In fact, there is such a complete lack of these things that the conclusion might be that the B2B music market is intentionally irrational, explicitly obtuse and unapologetically illogical. The answer to the question 'How much would it cost?' is invariably 'Whatever they say' and recalls the old joke that, when asked what he does for a living, a music publisher once responded 'I answer the phone.'....

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD

with Eric Sheinkop and Richard Jankovich

Using Music To Build Value For Brands

Welcome to HIT BRANDS. This book will help provide tools, insights and strategic thinking for how to create lasting and valuable con­nections with consumers through music.

Chapter 1

Brands have challenges

Nestled somewhere in an innocuous office building in a neighbourhood wedged between the Upper East Side and Yorkville, just off Manhattan's Central Park, is the financial news and opinion website called 24/7 Wall Street. The reporters for 24/7 Wall Street spend their days publishing opinion pieces on the health of compa­nies, stocks and investment opportunities. These articles get repub­lished all over the web on sites such as MarketWatch, MSNBC, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance and The Huffington Post. In June 2012, one such article began to ruffle the feathers of those whose job it is to help consumer brands stay relevant to their audience. The article provided a prediction of ten American brands that would fail in 2013. The list included some landmark consumer brands such as American Airlines, Research In Motion (better known for its product, BlackBerry), Avon, Talbots and at least one sports franchise, The Oakland Raiders. The article cites operational issues, changing competitive landscapes and management deficiency as the primary drivers of impending failure. Prior predictions by 24/7 have proved surprisingly accurate.    

There exists today an entire industry employing thousands of people whose job it is to help brands maintain a healthy relation­ship with their customers. We call this industry by lots of names: advertising, marketing, branding. It is a challenging industry as it is, without financial experts predicting your failure. The good news is that consumer brands generally recover from public failures. In 2007, McDonald's launched an ill-advised 'I'd Hit It' tag line, while The Cartoon Network launched a publicity stunt to promote 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force'. which resulted in a bomb scare in Boston. Both brands rebounded and today are as relevant as ever. Even Coca­-Cola recovered from what is widely considered the single biggest brand failure, the launch of New Coke in 1985. Every healthy brand encounters on a daily basis often staggeringly complex challenges trying to stay relevant to consumers while still turning a profit for their shareholders. Launching a new brand in this cluttered market­ place is even more difficult than maintaining a known entity.

In addition to publicity stunts, advertising slogans and new product launches, brands have hundreds of ways to reach the world across multiple media outlets including social media, online, tele­ vision, radio, print, apps, retail, outdoor events and more. Attached to many of these initiatives is an audio or musical component - the ever-present indie song in a TV commercial, the background music playing while you shop, the quick audio sequence that aligns with a product's logo (think Intel's chime). Brands will invest in sound and music across their entire marketing and communications platform and are often struggling to know whether they have got it right.

On average an international brand spends annually some­ where between $10 million and $20 million on music-related rights and licenses. They then multiply that spend by a factor of five through media dollars. This means that a big brand's annual spend, estimated conservatively, is between $50 million and $100 million, specifically allocated to help associate them­selves with music and musical talent. How many of those brands become famous for their use of music? How many of them create the kind of value for that investment that their stockhold­ers would want? How many of them create lasting, valuable con­nections with customers through this music? How many of them have hits?

Put another way, how many of those brands even know the odds for or against success? How many of them have learned how to move those odds in their favor or tried to understand the rules of the game? Have these brands even developed a strategy for using music? If having a hit is a crapshoot, a brand should at least know when and how to roll the dice.

Based on the issuance of ISRC codes (the international standard for identifying music recordings), a reasonable estimate puts the num­ber of new pieces of music released each year at a staggering one million. Each song is written in the earnest belief that they have something to say and can enhance the human condition. If we make a reasonable assumption that around 500,000 artists are involved in these one million tracks then we can easily start to calculate the base chances that any brand-band association will become a 'hit'. We start at 500,000:1 - about the same odds as being dealt a royal flush in poker.

Consider a brand that chooses to use an older, preexisting piece of music rather than a current band or artist's track as part of their music strategy. Our best guess at the total volume of stereo-recorded music in the world is around half a billion tracks. Now stand back in wonder at how any artist's song makes it on an ad and realize that it's not 'selling-out'; it's like winning the lottery, only nowhere near as lucrative.

We know that the chances of having a 'hit' are small to very small, but brands are still willing to roll the dice and take a chance. And there is something to be said for a meaningful connection with music that is neither a hit, nor a failure, but rather a standard part of any brand's portfolio. As long as brands want to use music, it's a moral and commercial imperative for the industry that we represent to help provide some tools; some insight and strategic thinking that will help marketers to cut down the odds to manageable levels. There is no such thing as a certainty but a little bit of clear thinking can certainly make success much more likely. And that's one point of this book. It is not a guarantee for creating brand value through music but it is a playbook, a form-guide and a 'method': We will lay out a bunch of success stories for you and try to help you move the needle in your favor, whether you are an artist trying to find opportunities or a brand trying to make the right decisions.

Remember, there is no trademark on an idea and what you read here can be stolen and used again. But also remember, there is no guarantee that any of these ideas will work as effectively once you take them and try to make them your own. After all, an idea contrib­utes to maybe 5 percent of the success of a venture, 95 percent is in how you execute it. So, good luck to us all, we'll need it. But before we roll the dice, let's go and learn the rules of the game.

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD

with Eric Sheinkop and Richard Jankovich

5 Gigs You Can't Miss This Week: 21st - 27th August

Make use of the last full week and possible sunshine of August by seeing a selection of great gigs featuring a variety of talent. 

Joel Bailey, Monday 21st August, The Half Moon

Singer songwriter Joel Bailey has been crafting and performing soulful tracks heavily influenced by the blues since around 2010, and has had the chance to perform at events such as the London 2012 Olympics amongst others. Even the ever unimpressed Simon Cowell has said he is ‘quite good’, so surely that warrants a listen. 

Tickets available here. 


Vasudeva, Monday 21st August, Birthdays

New Jersey instrumental rock band Vasudeva are set to continue their European tour with a visit to Birthdays. The trio have developed a set full of unique math-rock grooves and dynamic soundscapes which are sure to get crowds intrigued. 

Free entry. 


Watercolours, Thursday 24th August, The Dublin Castle

Previously performing under the moniker ‘Sahara Breeze’, the newly formed group have impressed with their recently released debut single ‘Feel Tomorrow’. Watercolours sound can’t be described by one particular genre and they are ready to showcase their full band (after a few stripped back performances) in Camden. 

Tickets from £4.50 on the door. 


Kate Simko & London Electronic Orchestra, Thursday 24th August, Jazz Cafe

Set to be the LEO’s biggest gig of 2017, the string quartet consisting of two cellos, violin, a harp and Kate on Keyboards - with guest vocalist Alex Marshall - are ready to showcase their innovative mixture of rich strings, synths and grooved beats. With previous appearances at Latitude and Bestival, the group are creating a huge buzz. 

Limited tickets here.


JADED, Friday 25th August, KOKO

London trio JADED have been quickly developing a reputation as a high energy live act with a sound heavily influenced by UK house and garage. Two new tracks ‘4000Hz’ and ‘In the Morning’ have been extremely well received and the group are sure to keep growing in popularity. 

Get the remaining few tickets here. 

5 Gigs You Can't Miss This Week: 14th - 20th August

With the last few weeks of August coming up, we have another great selection of varied live music for you to enjoy before Autumn rolls around. 

Sandtimer, Monday 14th August, The Half Moon


Start your week by listening to the close vocal harmonies and intricate guitar lines produced by this indie folk acoustic guitar duo who have appeared on BBC Introducing, and are garnering radio play across various BBC radio stations. They have been described musically as a cross between Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Page, Arcade Fire and Sammy Davis Jr, so high praise indeed! 

Grab some extremely cheap tickets here.


Larkins, Thursday 17th August, Thousand Island

Manchester Indie pop band Larkins - who provide catchy riffs and anthemic choruses throughout their music - are set to play Thousand Island (formerly Upstairs at the Garage). They have been touted as one of the UK’s next big arena acts, so be sure to catch them before they get too big for these kind of venues.  

Get your tickets here.


Ephemerals, Friday 18th August, Nells Jazz and Blue’s

Melding the genres of jazz and soul and interspersed with some African influences, Ephemerals are now a regular name on the European live scene. With increasing play on Radio 1 and other major stations in Holland and France, the group are gaining a growing following. 

Get your tickets on the door. 


Punctual, Friday 18th August, KOKO

Bristol based DJ/Producer duo Punctual will be headlining BURST, a night of electronic music at KOKO in Camden. Heavily inspired by garage and even classical, the pair have worked to create atextured and rich sound. Fresh from the festival circuit, the duo are sure to be on top form for this one. 

Tickets here.


Brooklyn Shakers, Saturday 19th August, 100 Wardour St

Playing a mixture of ska, funk, soul and New Orleans jazz and boasting an impressive lineup that has together played with the likes of Simply Red and Grace Kelly, the Brooklyn Shakers are an impressive live act. The band say that they bring the attitude of Amy Winehouse and the energy of James Brown to their shows - an effective combination indeed. 

If you would like a table you can email or phone 02073144000. 







5 Gigs You Can't Miss This Week: 7th - 13th August.

Regina Spektor, Wednesday 9th August, Eventim Apollo.

Kick off the week with singer song-writer, Regina Spektor's highly anticipated return to the U.K. Touring off the back of her 2016 release 'Remember Us to Life', Spektor once again promises to deliver a phenomenal show to all those Alternative Folk fanatics.

Grab the last few remaining tickets here!

Luciano, Wednesday 9th August, Boisdale.

Reggae legend Luciano heads a show at Jools Holland curated Boisdale. Expect a blend of soulful and spiritual Rock and Reggae, coupled with an optional Jamaican inspired 3 course meal. The perfect evening activity to shake off the midweek lethargy.

Get your tickets and check out the menu via this link.

Jarreau Vandal, Thursday 10th August, XOYO.

Soulection wunderkind and expert selector Jarreau Vandal brings his talent back to London for his collaborative event with Mystic Bounce. He'll be joined by legendary producer Lunice, De School's Vic Crezée,  and some of Mystic Bounce's own.

Tickets are still going cheap, so take the chance to see one of the most promising rising DJ's in the world. More info and tickets via. the XOYO website.

DJ Stingray, Friday 11th August, PHONOX.

The Brit Funk Association, Friday 11th August, 100 Club. 

The 100 Club hosts a huge night of jazz-fusion, funk and disco. Channeling all late 70's British Funk and Disco the lineup consists of musicians from Beggar & Co, Central Line, Hi-Tension and ex-members of Light of the World and Incognito. If you're looking for something to get nostalgic to, this is exactly what you need this weekend! 

Find out more and grab your tickets here

A Few Bands You Should Know in Scandinavia

 Isak Strand vs TOE

A music group that has journeyed out of the darkest corners of Sweden and into the light of the grander music industry. The unique Isak Strand vs TOE... Normally it is easy to track the influences of a band, but in this case you cannot single out a specific genre, artist or era. The band channel sounds from reggae, jazz, pop and hip-hop, and that is what makes their sound unique. 

In 2013 the band released their last album, ‘Theory Of Everything’, which was nominated for ‘Breakthrough of the year’ by Gaffa, one of Demark's top music magazines. Although in 2014 they sadly announced that they would not be playing as a band anymore, they truly made their impact and solidified themselves as one of Sweden's most memorable underground bands. Their tunes are all available on YouTube and Spotify for your listening pleasure. Listen to


Jacob Dinesen


Jacob Dinesen, is a name that has been swirling around in the Danish media recently. The 21-year-old singer/songwriter has already taken Denmark by storm, with his first album and two radio hits (Dancing Devil and Will You Stay). His huge talent as a Folk/Rock/Americana/Pop singer continues to be shown on his two new singles, Beautiful Sight and Roll With Me. Jacob Dinesen seems to have proved himself as an artist that is here to stay and not fade away, and his mature sound considering his age is something to be admired.


Ulige Numre

Ulige Numre was a Danish Rock band that sadly ended their 6 year run this year. On the 13th of March the members broke the news to their fans on Facebook that they were no long continuing their project. They wrote: ‘”We had a great time, but everything has an end”.  

Of course the band didn’t just go out without any history, their previous albums such as Grand Prix and Nu Til Dags garnered wide critical acclaim and solidified them as a truly great modern Danish band. However, this is not the total end of the road for the group, as lead vocalist and lyricist Carl Emil Petersen has now gone solo and released his first single entitled "Life Before Death" (Liv Før Døden).


Written by Sebastian Johannsen

Tyler, The Creator - 'Flower Boy' Album Review

‘Flower Boy’ is the fourth full length album from Odd Future founder Tyler, The Creator and marks a turning point for the famously controversial rapper. 

Continuing the theme of some of our favourite albums this year, such as 4:44 and This Old Dog, ‘Flower Boy’ shows an unexpected level of self reflection, personal growth, maturity, and vulnerability. The rapper who was previously regarded as being so profane and tasteless that he was even banned from entering certain countries, The United Kingdom being one such example, has now blossomed into a softer, more self-aware and more complete individual resulting in his most accomplished album yet.

In an age where it is no longer essential to appear bullish or insusceptible to harm to be idolised, where strength is no longer reliant upon appearing brash or omniscient, Tyler, like many other artists seems to have learnt that much of the adoration in modern music comes from sympathy, and understanding. ‘Flower Boy’ is certainly Tyler’s best and most cohesive work so far, it is no longer bogged down with attempts at creating outrage. The public now know what to expect from Tyler, The Creator his shock value has decreased and his lyrics are no longer as provocative as before. In fact, the most shocking thing Tyler may have ever done is this unexpected growth in character and the revelation of his true emotions. In acknowledging his confusion and weaknesses Tyler has opened himself up to a new kind of respect. The previously violent, misogynistic and homophobic lyrics of his past albums are totally sidelined in favour of a more meditative and reflective collage of songs, memories and emotions.

As the title suggests ‘Flower Boy’ shows a transformational and softer side to Tyler. As per usual, he addresses the things that have shaped him as a person, however, this time around Tyler fully gets into the essence of his ideas, not being sidetracked or rushed he injects an elegance and care into his work that we have not yet seen before. There is a carefully constructed and thought out plan, where in the past, Tyler’s albums have been bloated and messy. It is very clear to see that within Tyler’s past work he often gets carried away and too self involved, adding jokes, making oddball references, juxtaposing tracks or features where they are not necessary and occasionally even detrimental to the overall flow of the album. However, this is not the case with ‘Flower Boy’, it feels like the first fully realised album that Tyler has constructed. Every collaboration feels well thought out and complements the themes and sounds Tyler is aiming for. Throughout the album the trademark Odd Future sound is fused with orchestration, beautiful vocals and unpredictable chord progressions, fully discarding the aggression of his previous work in favour of an exploration of more smooth, soulful and jazz inspired direction. Where before his raps could be considered fairly  juvenile and substanceless attempts at creating controversy, Tyler now confronts some of the most significant subject matter possible. Throughout the album Tyler tackles, loneliness, the breakdown of friendships, love, confusion and, above all, coming to terms with oneself. 

This huge focus on coming to terms with oneself has led people to make a large fuss about what is Tyler’s apparent confirmation of his homosexuality, resulting in them completely overlooking his actual personality traits and artistic decisions and focusing simply upon the shock-value and repercussions of this potential revelation. This is resulted in a lot of invasive questioning and even a degree of de-legitimization of Tyler’s self-exploration upon the album. Regardless of sexuality, Tyler opens himself up bravely on ‘Flower Boy’, exposing a deeply intimate aspect of his psyche. Tyler has not directly addressed the subject of his sexuality upon the album’s release, nor should he have to. The album acts as means for Tyler to come to terms with himself, and less about stirring up the public. It is reductive and narrow minded to view the album simply as an explanation or an apology for his past controversies, former homophobic slurs and misogynistic lyrics. 

‘Flower Boy’ is a more positive, sincere and wistful evolution to Tyler, The Creator, which perhaps, if not hindered by the media, will mark the beginning of his metamorphosis into his full potential.

JAY-Z - '4:44' Album Review

Following on from what could easily be regarded as his weakest album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’, Jay-Z has burst back onto the scene with his new album 4:44, arguably his best work in 12 years.

4:44, feels as though Jay himself is now finally aware of his previous failings and has constructed this album almost entirely as a plea for redemption, both musically and personally. What makes 4:44 so impactful is the degree of vulnerability the seemingly impervious Jay-Z injects into his revival. The album opens with the overtly self-critical ‘Kill Jay-Z’ through which we are introduced to the current of self-loathing and introspection that runs through the record. From here on out the whole album seems to a metaphorical autopsy of the man that is Shawn Carter: Dissecting his very essence, analysing his vices and his drives, peeling back the hardened outer shell of his public persona and revealing his true emotions and most personal aspects of his life. The record revolves around the title track “4:44”, the self-described ‘crux’ of the album, named as such in reference to a moment of clarity at 4:44am, where Jay-Z claims to have had an epiphany and began writing. This epiphany could be very much be considered the end of Jay-Z’s Mid-Life Crisis, the moment of realisation and maturation which led to the introspection of this record. We see Jay come to terms with the effect of fatherhood and marriage upon him, the irresponsible actions he took as an attempt to preserve his youth and his own idea of himself as a ‘hustler’. 4:44 see’s the persona of Jay-Z discarded in order to confront the man behind the name and the impact this side of his life has had upon the real Shawn Carter. 

This revival signifies a rebirth for Jay-Z, rendering himself a more complete and mindful individual. This newfound profundity and self-awareness naturally leads Jay to face the most serious subject matter surrounding him. A Jay-Z album has not been this polished or intelligent for over a decade, his observations are as astute as ever and his complexities have never been laid out so bare. In comparison to the past efforts of 'Watch the Throne', 'Blueprint 3' & 'Magna Carta Holy Grail', where Jay had exhausted his usual rags to riches narrative and seemed caught in a lyrical vacuum, unable to reinvent himself and only capable of gloating superficially about his riches, talent and success, Jay has finally been able to find a new struggle to comment upon. Jay-Z reflects upon his personal journey, inner-turmoil and redemption in the same slick and perceptive manner in which he used to rap about his success story. Much of the failure of his previous works saw Jay-Z move further and further away from his accessible lyricism. This reinvention, finds Jay-Z updating his old style to a modern audience. Truly impactful Rap is no longer centred around sex, money and self-praise. The truly groundbreaking and long lasting albums are ones that speak to the crisis of now and the plight of others. What Jay-Z provided when he was younger was a voice for the troubled youth, the strain of a hard knock life. Now with this epiphany Jay-Z dismounts his high horse, humbles himself and accepts that behind the fame, fortune and praise it’s the man that counts, and no matter your reputation and public persona it doesn’t necessarily protect you from immoral actions. This naturally finds Jay confronting everything from his past infidelitiesto shooting his brother in childhood, to his Mother recently coming out as a lesbian and of course, most importantly, the grander exploration of race. 

Jay-Z is not the only person to be congratulated on 4:44's success, the production behind every track on the album is just as masterful as the lyrical content. Once again, Jay-Z seems to have learnt from his failings on Magna Carta, and perhaps recognised in retrospect that it has utterly no proficient or memorable aspects to it, leading him to discard the bland one dimensional club beats and put his complete faith in producer No I.D. Much of the album’s personality and charm can be directly credited, rather ironically, to No I.D’s production style. No I.D injects his unique and soulful Chicago style into all ten tracks on the album, however, perhaps the most impressive element of his production is the sample selection.

The samples are not only phenomenal in melody but profound in context. Every track has an instrumental that reiterates Jay’s primary concerns. They summarize Jay-Z’s thoughts and clarify his stance upon the issues he mediates on. On Jay’s powerful exploration of colour “The Story of O.J.,” No I.D implements a recurring Nina Simone sample that acts as a reminder that within society assumptions and stereotypes based upon skin colour are ever present. Then on “4:44”, Jay’s desperate apology track, once again the sample makes plain Jay’s shame and regret stating: “I’m never gonna treat you like I should!”. And perhaps most powerfully, on the closing track “Legacy,” Jay speaks up against the modern manifestations of black segregation, accented by Donny Hathaway’s empowering reminder that “Someday we’ll all be free”. 

 Legacy is the central theme to the album, Jay-Z is no longer looking back to his roots but instead looking forward towards the future, how will he be remembered by his friends, family and society?  Where does he stand in the history of music and what was his contribution to culture? All these questions culminate in an album that not only allows us a deeper insight into the true Shawn Carter but one that offers us a deeper look at ourselves and the state of society in the process.

CORD Label Series // Soulection

This week our focus turns towards independent hip-hop and R&B label Soulection, a truly unique success story.

The story of Soulection begins with DJ and curator Joe Kay who, at only 23, formulated the idea that eventually developed into Soulection. Kay, now 27 runs his label and curates and hosts the Soulection radio show on Beats 1 Radio for Apple Music. 

Based in Los Angeles, Soulection has established itself as creative hive for genre-bending musicians and a strong contender to all major labels in picking up fresh talent. 

It has only taken Kay and Soulection a few years to accumulate a huge range of talent and create one of the most eclectic catalogues in hip-hop and R&B. Soulection has become a haven for genre-splicing beatmakers operating on the fringes of more traditional sound. There are no predetermined guidelines for being on the label, and yet every release has a unique unity. 

From the very beginning everything has been DIY for Kay and his co-founder Andre Power. The truth is Kay and Power weren’t even trying to start a business, to begin with they were simply looking for new and exciting sounds to showcase in their own sets and radio shows. Having fallen into the label business the two have taken a very hands on approach and owe much of their success to their ability to tap into the hyperconnectivity of the modern age, relying heavily upon internet platforms like SoundCloud, Mixcloud, BandCamp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to grow its business. Within their first two official releases on Bandcamp the label made enough money purely through public appreciation naming their price for the downloads.

Soulection truly is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurial success stories in modern music, an impressive story within the context of the slowly declining industry. 

Listen to just a few of the sounds of tomorrow below:

5 Gigs You Shouldn't Miss This Week! 10th - 16th July!

Tuxedo, 10th July, XOYO.


If you're looking to get over the Monday morning blues there's no better place to find yourself than XOYO for a one-off live show from Stones Throw Records' Tuxedo. Churning out funky-disco beats the duo, made up of soul maestro Mayer Hawthorne & Hip-Hop producer Jake One,  have been injecting their signature styles into a new avenue of music. Together they have defined themselves as one of the most captivating acts on the Disco circuit.

This is a sure fire way to dance away the stress of your Monday morning, grab your tickets here.


A Night of D'Angelo, 10th July, The Jazz Cafe.

If you're looking for a smoother start to your week, then look no further! The Jazz Cafe will be hosting an acclaimed D'Angelo tribute night for the more tender of you out there. Grab yourself a drink, find yourself a date and sit back and unwind to the sleek and seductive sounds of the Black Messiah. 

Grab your tickets via. this link.


Rhythm Section: Prequel, Ruff Dug, Z Lovecraft, 14th July, Bussey Building. 

Following on from their massive Corsica Studios event with Infusions the Rhythm Section gang are heading to Bussey Building with yet another amazing lineup of selectors. Australian Rhythm Section alumni Prequel takes to the decks with RUF KUTZ label boss, Ruff Dug & the renowned Z Lovecraft. Between the three of them the deepest cuts from a collective vinyl crate will be spinning all night long.

Get in there early to make the most of the cheap prices, tickets available via. Resident Advisor.


Late Night Tuff Guy, 15th July, Oval Space.


The master of Disco edits joins Bunker resident Mike Servito and London favourites Horse Meat Disco to take the reigns of Oval Space's Lovebox After Party. Although there are a number of after parties being held across the city this one certainly gets our vote! Expect a variety of funky, infectious beats and good vibes all night.

More tickets and info, here.


Henry Wu & Glenn Astro, 16th July, Oval Space Terrace.

To wind up the weekend and keep riding the high of Saturday night get yourself over to Oval Space's terrace for an amazing day party hosted by the glorious Henry Wu and Glenn Astro, two of the most diverse and interesting rising selectors around London. Renowned for their masterful broken beats, future jazz and soulful house music this is certain to keep Sunday shining. 

Tickets via. this link!

Audio Branding: Unlocking Creativity

Today's final extract from Sonic Branding: An Introduction concludes by encouraging brands to take their stakeholders to places that they have never been, by providing a vision for the scope of sonic opportunities available to them and using audio branding to unlock creativity.

Chapter 25 - Experience

Stage one to three of the sonic branding engine are fundamentally concerned with how a brand seeks to identify itself in sound. These stages lead to the creation of a model and a set of internal management tools that can be referenced by all those who seek to represent a brand to its stakeholders; ad agencies, interactive designers, call centre managers and so on. It is important for all those in control of a brand touchpoint to take responsibility for the relationship they establish with the stakeholders and to ensure it is a consistent with the brand and its values. It is crucial to this relationship. It is crucial to this relationship that a sonic identity is referenced and for the framework it provides to be appreciated if a brand experience is to be effective. To make an analogy with visual branding, stages one to three create the typographic style, a logo and a framework in which these can be utilised. Stage four turns these visual elements into letterheads, uniforms and signage that all communicate something about the brand. 

The keys to ensuring that the sonic identity is effective wherever a brand seeks to communicate with its stakeholders are the branding criteria of flexibility and consistency. The first three stages of the sonic branding engine provide points of distinctiveness and memorability by creating an understanding of the sounds that effectively communicate a brand and in doing so provide a palette of music, voice and ambient sounds with almost infinite flexibility. It is then up to those in charge of the various touchpoints to implement this palette in the most contextually sympathetic way. By opening up the world of sound to those who seek to communicate a brand it is possible to provide them with the creative tools they need to reach stakeholders in the best manner. Their understanding of their touchpoints and their audience makes them the right people to decide how the brand’s sonic identity should be implemented and by providing a sonic palette and guidelines, it is possible to encourage creativity while being in a position to enforce consistency. 

For too long now the controllers of the traditional media have feared sonic branding due to the constraints they feel it places on their creativity. In fact sonic branding as explained in this book could be the key to unlocking creativity and allowing brands to take their stakeholders to places that they have never been. If a voice can communicate everything about a brand then there is the opportunity to take the visual elements to uncharted territories. If a sonic logo is as recognised as a visual one then there is no need for a pack-shot.

Brand experience, with the help of new technology, is changing and changing fast. Stakeholders are now able to exercise far greater control over the messages they receive and experiences they have. No longer is our understanding of a brand solely determined by a celebrity endorsement or an expensive advertisement during half-time at the Super Bowl. Brands must now understand every point at which they communicate with their stakeholders and must appreciate every context. They must learn to fit into people’s lives seamlessly while at the same time encouraging them to take certain paths. 

If brands are to retain their position in society they must learn to appreciate the true nature of experiences they can offer. They must learn to harness the power of each sense in order to remain distinct and relevant. They must understand the role they play in stakeholders’ lives and ensure that they fulfil this role. They must quickly learn the potential for new technology and ensure they utilise it correctly and effectively. It would be too complicated to explore this role and how sound fits into it in all the experiences a brand can offer. Instead, by providing an understanding of the scope of opportunities offered by sound, we hope to allow brand-owners and communicators to fully explore its potential. The challenge is great and if brands are to be up to it they need to understand and appreciate what sound can do for them, then they must use it creatively. 

Daniel M Jackson - CEO, CORD

5 Gigs you should see this week: 3rd - 9th July.

DJ Q, 6th July, Phonox.

Get yourself an early start to the weekend and head down to Phonox on Thursday to catch Bassline legend DJ Q. Taking over the decks for the whole night Q is bound to bring some high energy tunes to kick off the weekend hype early.

For tickets and more info, click here.


BBZ x Ballamii, 7th July, Corsica Studios.

This Friday Corsica Studios provides the perfect event for Pride weekend! Queer, Trans, Non-binary, POC celebrating night BBZ and Peckham's rapidly growing Balamii radio have joined forces to bring you a celebration of London’s finest femme identifying DJ’s, Producers, Dance Do-ers, Broadcasters, Artists and so much more.  The night  will be centred on positive feminine energy and eradicating misogyny for queer women and genderqueer folk of colour boasting a banging line-up of some of the most unique acts working in music.

More info and tickets available via. Resident Advisor.


Erol Alkan, 7th July, XOYO.

The Boss of the highly revered label Phantasy, coveted remixer, producer of countless critically acclaimed albums takes to XOYO this July to kick off his huge 13week residency. Curating a diverse lineup of talent across a number of weeks, Erol Alkan will undoubtedly provide months of unmissable entertainment worth being on your radar. 

Find out who he has in store for week one and grab your tickets here!


Daniel Avery, 8th July, Phonox.

Phantasy alumni, Daniel Avery, picks up from where Erol Alkan left off this Saturday. The electronic music maestro heads to Phonox with hard-hitting, Coconut Beats resident HAAi. Together the two promise a hectic night of the best Techno, Trance and House going.

Don't miss out, grab your tickets here!


Flux Garden Party, 8th July, Studio 338.

If you're looking to spend your Saturday outside surrounded by music then look no further than the Flux Garden Party at Studio 338. The rooftop bar will be taken over by a whole host of DJ's. Joining them in the Garden will be Moodymann's pal, Detroit house and hip hop legend Andrés, Cologne’s soul-driven selector Damiano Von Erckert and rising Bordeaux talent Laroze. Ably supporting them will be Madtech’s Voyeur, Holding Hands head honcho Desert Sound Colony and Noa. 

Tickets for both day party and after party available here.