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Companies seek signature sound

Audiobrain helps media outlets with sonic branding

In an increasingly crowded media landscape, companies fight for brand recognition every way they can. In recent years, that’s created a burgeoning demand for “sonic branding” as companies seek a sound logo as recognizable as the NBC chimes or ESPN’s repeating three-note SportsCenter fanfare.

One company thriving in the sonic branding business is Audiobrain, whose clients range from Microsoft to Virgin Mobile USA to McDonald’s. For each, the Gotham-based firm mixes music with sound effects to create tracks ranging from five-second sound washes to broadcast logos to anthems played in stadiums.

Among their credits: the power-up tone on the Xbox 360, and the entire sonic branding strategy for Major League Soccer, the new United Football League and Virgin Mobile USA.

“People want us to help them tell their story with sound,” says Audiobrain’s executive producer Audrey Arbeeny. “They want us to find a unique personality with sound.

In addition to a massive collection of sounds and a roster of composers, Audiobrain has built proprietary tools that enable it to discover, create and audition a logo.

“We use those tools as a compass to find what resonates and what’s right for the story,” Arbeeny says.

Although a sound logo often will last only seconds, Arbeeny believes it’s important for clients to think long term and focus on their strategy.

“This is an emotional and subjective process, and you’re not going to ever avoid that,” she says, “but when sound is developed from the right perspective of the brand and it’s reinforcing the emotional context of the brand, that’s where sonic branding plays a really important role.”

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