In the skirmish to package every experience with sound, from corporate messaging to personal ringtones, sometimes it's good to remember that the relative absence of sound, what we think of as SILENCE, can still be quite effective.
There's a reason why the saying is 'Silence is Golden' and not 'Chaos R Us'.
Even those who make a living in Sonic Branding would do well to heed its message. It's not enough to say 'We are Masters of Sound'. First convince your client you know where and when sound can be effective, and where and when you should leave well enough alone.
A library provides us with an obvious example of a space best left alone:
In a library we don't appreciate a cell phone going off in the history stacks. We all agree it is better to allow room tone to fill the vacuum, therefore creating a sense of QUIET. We certainly don't want the Library administration to feel compelled to brand each section with a unique hum (Just follow the cellos to Biology... –although, wow, I can imagine how that could possibly work).
A movie theater provides us with an example of when it's best to mute our personal branding so that other sound can be heard clearly and enjoyed by all.
Engaging sonic branding can both be a positive expression and produce a positive impression –that's what we hope it does– provided the context in which it is delivered suitable for sound, which is equally important to the equation, if it is to be effective.
What I mean by that is not whether the asset or environment is inherently suitable for sound, although that is a factor, but is the asset or environment a suitable platform for delivering your message?
If it is, then the next step is defining what that message is and how sound can effectively be used to deliver it, or be used as to attract audiences/users/consumers to a platform where they can learn more about a given product, service or experience.
This of course assumes the client clearly understands what they want to convey. Sometimes they don't know. Sometimes they need an analyst to tell them.
And sometimes someone simply needs to make a decision one way or the other.
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Click any link below to read all the articles in the six-part July 2008 UNBRANDED series detailing the relationship between Effective Sonic Branding and Black Noise (Silence):
TO BRAND OR NOT TO BRAND?
That is the Question.
Part 1: Non Branding For The Best Branders
Part 2: Sonic Branding or Silent Branding?
Part 3: Websites and Sonic Branding
Part 4: The Sonification of Everything
Part 5: Silence Please, for the Soundtracks of Our Lives
Part 6: Black Noise Branding