The fourth annual Audio Branding Congress was held on December 11, in the UK for the first time after previous events in Germany and the US. The host was Oxford University, and the venue was prestigious Oxford Examination Schools. More than 130 audio branding experts from 21 countries, including India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa, gathered to review a year of rapid growth in both industry revenues (up more than 30%) and sophistication in terms of tools, practices and measurement.
The main themes of the conference were the importance of measurement; the breadth of tools and audio expressions now being deployed globally; the value of academics and practitioners collaborating and communicating; and a note of caution in the use of music in public places – often counterproductive, according to the research.
A highlight of the day was the 2012 Audio Branding Award. Seven finalists each presented for 20 minutes in the afternoon session, showcasing the best of audio branding practice around the world. The finalists included Dell, Nokia, Spanish national train operator Renfe and Brazilian TV network Globosat.
For the first time, gold, silver and bronze awards were voted on by the delegates. The bronze went to German gas supplier Linde Group, whose agency amp had created an entire orchestral symphony as the heart of an audio identity with dozens of expressions, from on-hold to soundscapes. The silver and gold awards were closely fought. Silver went to Swiss consultancy DKSH, whose agency kleiner und bold (Berlin) had implemented a memorable and comprehensive audio identity using uniquely Swiss sounds. The blue riband gold award went to Harrods, for whom The Sound Agency had carried out a sound audit of all 300+ departments, created a strategy for sound and then commenced implementation with an innovative suite of generate soundscapes in the new Toy Kingdom.
Commenting on the gold award, The Sound Agency’s Julian Treasure said: “We are thrilled and humbled to be honoured by our peers in this way. I think there was a lot of excitement about this new alternative to mindless music in retail environments. Generative aural wallpaper is the future for many commercial spaces.”
Previously, the morning had seen high-level academic presentations including Professors Charles Spence (on crossmodal effects) and Nancy Pucinelli (on measuring the impact of sound). Networking was enjoyed by all, and there was a tangible sense of an international family coming together.
Rainer Hirt from the Audio Branding Academy said: “This was the best-ever Audio Branding Congress – not just in size, but also in content and most of all in the feeling of togetherness.” His partner Cornelius Ringe agreed: “We had people from all over the world, and the sense of unity and passion for they do was overwhelming.”