How We Created the Voices Sonic Logo
You may have noticed some changes to the look of the Voices website lately. But have you heard the new sound of Voices?
As part of our evolution into a creative services marketplace that—in addition to our core as a destination for voice over—will connect companies with audio producers, musicians, translators, and more, we dropped the ‘.com’ from the tail end of our name, and we refreshed our visuals accordingly.
But if there is one thing you know about Voices, it’s that we live first and foremost in the audio space. Since the launch of our business over 15 years ago, we have held a steadfast belief in the power of the human voice to inform, entertain, and inspire—a mission made evident through the work we complete with our clients every day.
Given our stake in the audio realm, it didn’t make sense for us to focus purely on updating our brand look without any consideration to how our brand sounds. So, we’re proud to share the gripping saga of how the Voices team took the plunge and set out to craft our very own sonic logo that would instruct our overarching sonic brand.
What is a Sonic Brand?
A sonic brand is like the audio equivalent of visual branding. A company’s sonic brand encapsulates all the musical, vocal, and auditory elements that express the company’s values and echo its emotional tone.
Your sonic brand is how you sound in video and audio ads, at webinars and live events, when a customer calls into your IVR phone system, or when your audience engages with your brand via a smart speaker or other voice-activated device.
At the heart of most sonic brands is a sonic logo. A sonic logo is a sequence of notes that can be repurposed and interwoven throughout all of the aforementioned customer touchpoints. Sonic logos aren’t just jingles that play during a TV spot. The digital media landscape has ushered in nothing short of an audio revolution, giving a well-crafted sonic logo the opportunity to appear in countless points throughout your brand soundscape.
Hey, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can even use your sonic logo as the foundation for a pop single—as Mastercard did:
Within the crowded digital space, forging a sonic logo is the perfect way to cut through the noise and position yourself at the forefront of multisensory branding.
Read on to discover how we concocted the Voices sonic logo, and maybe you’ll even feel inspired to follow in our footsteps and create a sonic logo of your own.
The Story of the Voices Sonic Logo
Voices has long been aware of sonic branding efforts happening out in the world. We’ve helped match clients with voice talent who can perfectly embody a brand voice, and we’ve penned guides on how to bring your brand voice to life and using a sonic logo to develop your brand soundscape.
As we began to gear up for our 2021 brand refresh, members of our marketing team grew excited at the prospect of creating our very own sonic logo. Our company revolves around sound—we needed to stake a claim in this space.
But where to begin?
The first step for anyone tasked with crafting a sonic logo is to determine their company’s personality. If your brand were a person, how would they present themselves? What is their tone of voice?
If you’re lacking a distinct brand personality, you can get to work uncovering it with a fun brand identity exercise we call The Restaurant Meeting. For this exercise, you have to imagine that your brand is holding a dinner meeting with a client, and put yourself in the client’s shoes as they interact with your brand throughout the evening.
At Voices, we already had a solid starting point with this one-liner that succinctly captures how the Voices brand carries itself:
This quotation made clear that we needed to aim for a sound that is upbeat and inspiring. But we still felt like we needed some more guidance.
So, we approached Voices CEO and co-founder David Ciccarelli to pick his brain about his vision for the sonic logo. David provided us with some additional descriptors that helped narrow our conception of how the Voices brand should sound: “warm, friendly, and technological.”
It was at this moment that we first realized the unique challenge we had on our hands.
Voices is a tech company built around the distinct connection that only the human voice can provide. Although we are a website that uses data to provide the best possible product to our users, if we were to compose an exclusively electronic sonic logo, then we would be ignoring the vibrant human voices behind the work we do. At the same time, crafting our sonic logo from the sound of the human voice could be overlooking our existence as a cutting-edge digital brand.
What we really needed to do was find a way to capture the harmony that Voices fosters between the digital and the acoustic, all contained within a few musical notes.
Conducting a Sonic Brand Audit
Before we took a stab at creating our own sonic logo, we wanted to survey the landscape to see what was already out there. So, we began scouring the internet for every sonic logo we could find. We rounded up almost every sonic logo we could locate, sat down, and listened to them all back to back. Our small group discussed the ones that we liked, identified the elements that most appealed to us, and spoke about the shortcomings of the sonic logos that didn’t quite do it for us.
We then decided that before we could begin to flesh out how we hope to sound in the future, we first had to know how we sound in the present.
So, we peeked our heads into the Voices archives to conduct a sonic brand audit.
Our team had a great time viewing some old YouTube videos, listening to podcast episodes, and even calling our own phone line. While it was plain to see that sound had always been an integral component of our company’s content strategy, we found that our music choices sometimes lacked consistency or appeared to elicit different emotional responses.
Our aim was to design one holistic sound that would tell listeners—whether watching an instructive how-to video or pressing play on an entertaining podcast episode—that they were in the presence of the Voices brand.
Taking a Crack at It
With a list of the emotions that we hoped our sonic logo would evoke, paired with an understanding of what worked and what didn’t when it came to other brands’ sonic logos, Voices Content Producer Randy Rektor set out on a musical journey to create a number of early samples for what would ultimately become the Voices sonic logo.
Randy had two key ingredients that he knew would help us achieve the warm and friendly feeling we were going for. First, he would select a melodic phrase that fit within a major (or ambiguous) key, while avoiding minor keys. He also wanted to settle on a melodic phrase with an upward trajectory, which would leave listeners with an uplifted feeling.
Randy came up with eight versions for the first iteration of our sonic logo. Here’s an example of what one sounded like:
On top of that, Randy created some audio samples that revealed how the sonic logo might sound after being embedded into a larger soundscape. The use of multiple sonic layers in these tracks was meant to enable a modular melodic idea that can be easily manipulated for almost any audio use case.
Listen to how seamlessly the sonic logo fits into these ambient soundscapes:
After reviewing the first eight files, the team began to provide feedback. We considered how well each melodic phrase achieved the emotions we wanted to elicit, and how they all sounded compared to other brands’ sonic logos.
But at the heart of our deliberation was the key question: “Could this sonic logo be Voices?”
After digesting all of our input, Randy put his headphones back on and got to work on another set of sonic logos. His focus was now to combine the key attributes and best qualities of the original eight, to develop a whole new set of would-be sonic logos.
The Listening Party
After the content marketing team had voted for the top five from Randy’s new batch of sonic logos, we were ready to bring them to the entire marketing department for a listening party. When it comes to creative projects, team listening sessions can add a lot of value. Sometimes a team unanimously agrees on their favorite sound, while other times a listening session can lead to a heated (but hopefully fruitful!) debate.
So, we dimmed the lights and encouraged our colleagues to open their ears and listen closely to the sonic logo samples Randy had cooked up. The group listening party gave way to some fascinating insights and new ideas that hadn’t initially crossed our minds.
We found that some team members preferred the sonic logo options that culminated with a downward direction in pitch, as opposed to ending on an upward inflection. The descending finish lent the sonic logos something of a conclusion.
Others suggested that we try incorporating a human voice speaking, humming, or singing our brand name’s two syllables—VOI–CES—to the tune of the logo’s final two notes. However, some concerns surrounding this idea were also voiced.
For one, a vocalist singing our logo could misrepresent our product. We began as a voice over marketplace primarily for voice talent, and although we are thrilled to begin offering creative services in other categories, such as Audio, Music, and Translation, we still didn’t want to stoke confusion or misconstrue our identity.
We also considered the factor that a sung logo might only showcase a single voice—while one of the greatest aspects of Voices is that we provide opportunities to talent who are a variety of ages and genders, who speak multiple languages, and have unique accents. We weren’t certain that one voice could accurately represent all that our brand has to offer, but we still couldn’t deny the fact that the organic element of the human voice seemed fundamental to capturing who we are.
Casting a Wider Net
After a lot of deliberation, we decided to change direction. We hadn’t yet found the sound that resonated with our leadership team, so we wanted to extend the invitation to our vast community of creative talent.
We drew up a job posting inviting our talent to contribute their own ideas of what our sonic logo should sound like. Here’s what we said we were looking for in the posting:
Attn Musical Voices: Seeking Vocal Auditions for Brand Sonic Logo
We’re posting for a very unique project that requires a voice artist with musical talent. In a nutshell, Voices is looking for a one-of-a-kind take on what will become our ‘sonic logo.’
To audition, please supply a sound sample of how you would imbue the two-syllable word ‘voi-ces’ with a ‘bright, upbeat, motivating and aspirational’ sound. This sound sample should be musical, created by your voice, and unique (i.e. it must not sound like any other brand out there).
We understand that this is a special challenge, but are putting a call out to our community, as we believe that your creativity is an incredible asset – and we couldn’t imagine creating a sonic logo that doesn’t include the human voice.
We were blown away by the response. Our talent community really stepped up to the plate, showering us with an array of inventive and ear-opening takes on what our sonic logo could be.
However, after receiving over 80 auditions for the job, and shortlisting around 15 or so, we found that we were still no closer to the lightbulb moment we had been hoping for. While we were impressed by the wildly creative talent that took part in our crowdsourcing venture, we found that some of the submissions were either a little too synthetic, or a little too musical. We received some samples that were close to what we were looking for, leading to the invaluable discovery of now knowing what we didn’t want.
Yet, one audition came so close to what we had in mind that we decided to see what we could do with it. We awarded a winner for the job, and Randy got to work refining it into our signature Voices sound.
Sonic Logo 2.0
At this point in the process, Randy began working on what was dubbed the ‘Sonic Logo 2.0.’ This exercise involved him diverging from our original path and using the winning audition to create eight new mockups that incorporated the human voice, sounded both processed and natural, and carried a tune without sounding too much like the beginning of a musical number.
We then presented the eight candidates of Sonic Logo 2.0 to David and Stephanie, and they arrived at a unanimous decision. From among the melodies presented, one option astonishingly seemed to hit all of the right notes. All of a sudden, we had found the new Voices sonic logo.
Meet the New Voices Sonic Brand
After the a-ha moment, we settled on the sonic logo that would serve as the heart of the overarching Voices sonic brand.
From here on out, our sonic logo will accompany any appearance of our animated logo, favicon, or word mark within a video production or keynote. It will also always accompany our visual logo—save for audio-only productions, like our IVR system or a podcast—or public speaking engagements.
You can read the usage guidelines for our sonic logo here. Not only do we outline the correct way to use our sonic logo, but we also provide the guidelines for the use of music in any Voices audio assets.
Our sonic logo is the key piece that connects the entirety of the overarching Voices sonic branding.
Takeaways For Crafting Your Own Sonic Logo
After first embarking on this project back in 2020, here are our main takeaways for creating a sonic brand from scratch:
1. Stay authentic and true to your brand
Put careful consideration into creating a sonic brand that makes sense for your company and fits your product. A sonic brand isn’t just meant to be a melody that sounds pleasant—it has to communicate the emotional personality of the product or service your brand is putting out into the world.
2. Take an honest look at your current soundscape
In order to craft a sound that resonates, you’ve got to know exactly how you currently sound and what needs to change. By performing a sonic branding audit and analyzing all of your existing audio assets, you’ll gain a clearer sense of how your listeners hear you and what it will take to update your brand sound.
3. Reach out to your community for input and ideas
We would have never come up with the Voices sonic brand if we hadn’t been open to collaboration, feedback, and differing opinions. Play your sonic logo samples for as many ears as you can, and allow the input you receive to help guide you toward the perfect sound.
4. Expect the unexpected
The creative process is rarely linear, and you’re bound to come up against a number of roadblocks along the way. But as long as you embrace the cycle of trial and error, and stay open to experimenting with new ideas, you never know when the sound you’ve been looking for will just appear (seemingly) out of thin air.
Find Creative Talent to Make Your Brand Sing
Are you ready to position your brand at the forefront of the audio revolution?
Launch your new sound by signing up for a Voices account and getting matched with the creative talent who can bring your sonic brand to life.