“A sound identity plays to a customer sense powerfully”
Andrea Newman, global head of brand at HSBC

When HSBC began a global refresh of its brand identity last year, the bank’s well-known red and white hexagon was the most obvious aspect, but no less important has been the development of a sound identity for the first time, says a top executive.

Writing in the June issue of Admap (topic: Audio: Prospering in the ever-present medium), Andrea Newman, global head of brand at HSBC, stresses the importance of having “a brand identity and experience that can work across any channel a customer may choose”.

And with many new platforms not having screens, “a sound identity plays to a customer sense powerfully”.

“From a business perspective,” she said, “if we didn’t have one, we risked further fragmenting our brand, meaning, distinctiveness, and – ultimately – our appearance in the mind of a customer.”

In Using sound to create a 360-degree brand identity, Newman charts the evolution of the brand’s thinking, from its own unsuccessful attempts to come up with something that would work in any context, from an ATM to large-scale sponsorship event, to its eventual recruitment of electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre to deliver an audio representation of the HSBC brand promise, “Together we thrive”.

From that initial melody and hook “Jean-Michel went on to deliver seven themes [which] cater for different scenarios when a customer interacts with us – whether on hold via telephone banking, at a stadium for the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, a Private Banking forum or in a branch,” she elaborates.

“We have essentially created a toolkit for the organisation so that when we approach sound in any given experience, there is one unique, globally consistent source material to ease fragmentation and build a consistent, signature brand experience.”

Newman is excited about how this can take the bank in some new directions, not least in catering to the visually impaired as sound “can help punctuate a user experience online or offline”

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Source WARC