I visited the Audio Branding Associations (ABA) congress hosted by Expansion Team (a NYC-based audio branding agency) on the 17th Nov in New York with Tommi Koskinen who is also a SOiN 1st year student. The theme for this year’s congress was mobile audio; the presentations and speeches focused on audio branding for mobile devices, applications and emerging digital media.
For me the absolute high point of the congress was the keynote speaker Martyn Ware’s (Illustrious, Sonic ID) speech about the future of sonic branding. He has been a great inspiration for me for the past five years with his work in the sonic art scene and I have been following his career since I heard him lecture in the so called Future of Sound -event in London in 2006. He accounted that sonic branding is growing rapidly and that there is room for all sorts of specialisation within the branch. He also presented short case studies of his recent projects. For example a project called West Street Story where calming sounds of the seascape, slowing down and slowed-down pop music are played to a wild party street in Brighton. In this case from my point of view he wanted to point out that new tools for using sounds in different spaces should be introduced and sounds also should be considered more carefully when designing new living spaces. Research has shown that his project has resulted in reduced violence on the street. Ware also pointed out how sonic branding should not only be considered as something for the business sector, but for the public sector just as well. According to Ware we have moved from the visual 20th century to the sensory age of 21st century…
Another high point for me was hearing Russ Jones (Condiment Junkie, London-based) presenting his company’s works. Recently he has been working on projects including designing sounds for “supercars” and Jamie Oliver’s iPhone app. Jones’s speech dealt with how information can be conveyed through sound in order to aid navigation, enhance the user experience and communicate brand identity.
Especially I found Russ Jones’s and Martyn Ware’s notions on importance of multisensory experiences in (mobile) communication inspirational.
In a panel discussion on the topic “Mobile Audio Branding – Spatial Pollution or Good Vibrations” interesting points were made about the future of audio branding and its terminology. Should commonly accepted terminology be used in order to make it clearer for buyers to know what services they are actually buying? I got the understanding that the term audio branding is being used more often than sonic branding or acoustic branding. In the panel also the importance of understanding audio branding as a part of a multisensory experience was covered by many interesting comments by the panellists especially when discussing about the future living spaces and audio branding for mobile devices.
In addition to the speeches, six showcases where presented. The congress-visitors got to vote, choosing the most interesting case. The winner for this years audio branding award is Willbert Hirsch from the Audio Consulting Group from Germany with his case study: Acoustic Branding in all dimension -UBS. Wilbert’s case was truly thorough and for me especially his points on the use of spatial sound design and using silence made a great impact.
The trip to the US was successful in many ways and having the possibility to gain so much inspiration in such a short time blew my mind. We represented Media Lab’s flag proudly in the congress and made many new contacts in the field of audio branding. If this topic interests you and you would like to ask more about the congress, please feel free to contact me.