The Sound of TEDxAarhus

The first thing most people notice when they watch any TED talk is the sound of the waterdrop, followed by deep drums and a melody to round the whole intro off. These 10 seconds of sound have become an incredibly important part of the TED brand. To such an extent that the sound has itself become ubiquitous with inspiring and enlightening talks by the world’s brightest.

As part of the global TEDx community, it’s ultimately our job to carry on the TED concept of “ideas worth spreading” to our own local community. To do this, we turned our focus to how we could better position our TEDxAarhus brand to better represent the core ideals of TED and global TEDx movement. Ultimately, this cumulated in the creation of our very own “Sound of TEDxAarhus”. A 10 second sound brand that, like the TED sound brand, will serve as a beacon for great ideas worth spreading as well as representing markedly the city and people of Aarhus, Denmark.

In this post, we ask sound branding specialist, and creator of the Sound of TEDxAarhus, how we came up with the sound brand, and what it means for TEDxAarhus going forward.

First of all, who are you?

My name’s Heine Neilsen. I’m a Danish entrepreneur, I work as a branding specialist and founded my own company called Sound of Innovation. I’m also our very own Co-Head of Event Managers here at TEDxAarhus. I believe that through this sound brand, the TEDxAarhus brand will really reinforce the value and awareness of the city and the TEDx community worldwide. We know from research that a sound brand helps communicate the values and reinforces the brand. TEDxAarhus will lift itself from a local organization to the international TEDx league. I can’t wait to show the world the TEDxAarhus sound brand!

What is a sound brand? Is it like a jingle?

Yes and no. A jingle is more seen in commercials like in TV ads, whereas a sound brand is highly specific to the brand. Just think about your favorite brands. Do you know the sound of it? Why are you more loyal to McDonald’s than to Burger King or vice versa? Both jingles and sound brands derive by nature from sales, hailing back to the old street cries at the market.  Ultimately, the sound brand acts like an extension of the visual logo, communicating the values and vision of the brand. The first thing that should come into your head when you hear the sound should be the values of that brand. It also needs to be distinct, short, and rely on tradition and narratives, but maybe I’m starting to get too technical for this interview!

Why does TEDxAarhus need a sound brand?

It’s about standing out and putting Aarhus on the map. With this sound brand, we want anyone that watches our talks to immediately associate the sound brand to not only the concept of ideas worth spreading but also that these ideas came from Aarhus.

What can we do with it? What’s the value for TEDxAarhus as an organization?

The quantifiable benefits of a sound brand will appear directly on your bottom line; your brand awareness increases and you will sell more! Music and sound can communicate to us on a subconscious level, and invoking specific feelings and thoughts is something we focus on when developing these sound brands.

In the case of TEDxAarhus, like I said, the sound brand will be used for distinction, to put Aarhus on the global map of TEDx organizations, and to ensure that the ideas spread by TEDxAarhus are unmistakably from Aarhus. With the correct and consistent use of this sound brand package, TEDxAarhus will increase its brand value and brand awareness!

How did you create the sound brand for TEDxAarhus?

I had many ideas on how to approach the sound(s) of Aarhus. Ultimately I found three sounds that are both particularly unique to Aarhus and at the same time carry on tradition and narratives, as well as representing the TED brand overall:

The water drop. This is a clear and distinct reference to the opening sound from the jingle found in all of the TED Talks. The drop and resulting waves representing the new and incredible ideas from Aarhus that will echo and reverberate throughout the world!

“Dreamed me a dream”. Or in Danish, “Drømte mig en drøm”, was used as the first call signal by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation in 1931 and is still being used at the DR Concert Hall in Copenhagen to signals breaks in performances. More interestingly, it’s also the oldest preserved Nordic melody on paper from the 14th century. For the TEDxAarhus sound brand, I used the first four notes of the melody, which gives a unique representation of not only our national radio, which is a hub for social gathering, but also our Scandinavian cultural heritage.

The Bell of Birth also known as GONG’en at DOKK1 in Aarhus. Every time a new baby is born at the local Skejby Hospital, the parents can press a button that activates the gong at the city hall and central library in downtown Aarhus. Each ring of the gong indicates the birth of a new life and also represents the new life that is TEDxAarhus, which is seeing the world for the first time.

Then there are the echoes. The echoes of the gong are made by small pipe bells that were installed in all the city’s busses in early 2017 for three months by Swiss sound artist Andres Bosshard, who won “The Sound of Aarhus 2017” competition as part of Aarhus’ place as the European Capital of Culture. Every time the gong is rung when a baby was born, the echoes are played by all the city’s busses as well. Together these sounds capture also the city’s status as the European Capital of Culture.

Where will we hear the new sound brand?

The sound brand is planned to be implemented across all of our platforms. It will be used on par with the visual logo. Perhaps more concretely, you’ll hear it whenever you see or hear a talk from TEDxAarhus, when you attend TEDxAarhus on September 30th, and just maybe, when you think of TEDxAarhus you might start to hear the sound brand in your inner ear!

Listen to the new TEDxAarhus sound yourself here.

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