The term audio branding has recently become a bit of a buzzword with the likes of technology and fortune 500 companies – This project and case study takes a unique look into branding and communication for public radio. KQED’s audio branding case study pulls away the veil on the process of audio branding and takes a look into the way sound designers go about crafting a bespoke soundscape that communicates a brands story while helping to build both recall and equity. As we see audio branding growing as a discipline it is valuable to understand the process that shapes this type of design execution at a time when audio is becoming so important in the overarching brand landscape.
As KQED was in the midst of an entire rebrand, they jumped at the opportunity to supplement this with a sonic id and overarching audio brand that would increase recall and drive engagement. KQED’s sonic id is played at the bottom of the hour for radio programming and is also used alongside KQED’s new video animation for all originally produced content and for station IDs on its four television channels. The sonic id is just one component of KQED’s overall branding work that will be launched and expanded to its digital platforms in the next year.
At the beginning of the year KQED came to us to create a unique sonic id to be used for radio and television broadcast. Considering that KQED is currently the most listened to public radio station in the US reaching millions of people on a daily basis; it was important for us to create a sonic signature that is recognizable while also being unique in the competitive space alongside other networks and digital media providers.
We started the project by hosting a discovery workshop where we talked about the core brand pillars of KQED and how we wanted to communicate them through sound and music. During that time, we also identified other content providers, distributors and networks that make up the crowded competitive landscape and began to study these to ensure that we design in a style that allows KQED to have its own voice in order to build their brand equity.
From the audit and discovery we learned that we wanted to focus on 3 primary design concepts would that support the KQED brand evolution and story.
First, it was important to create something accessible to KQED’s large and diverse listener base. To do this we used pure tones, also known as sine waves to express the primary melody. We also expressed the concept of accessibility by using simple, major scales and chords that are easily digestible to the average person.
Second, we wanted to create something that gives the listener the feeling that they are discovering something new and valuable that in turn makes them a more knowledgable and engaged person. KQED is all about new, innovative ways of telling stories that empower people so the sonic id needed to be fresh and inspiring. To accomplish this, we utilized more modern instrumentation and production techniques and also placed more emphasis on the texture and feel of the id rather than the traditional hummable jingle or melody.
And Lastly we wanted to support the component that is most dear to KQED which is the QED within their call letters that is derived from the Latin QED meaning thus it is proven. This concept is at the core of KQED and speaks to their integrity in delivering trusted, objective content. For this we wanted to create the feeling of a question and answer format. To accomplish this, we started the melody with a single pure tone that delays into a swell as if a person is asking a question and is followed by an affirmative 2 note positive resolution that is also grounded with a lower pitch impact and supported by brighter instrumentation.
Key Team Members
About the organization
CMoore Sound is an audio branding, sound design and music production studio located in San Francisco, CA. We work closely with companies to define their brand tone - This involves everything from strategic brand analysis to custom musical scores and sound design experiences for the physical and digital world.