HISTORY CHANNEL : Sonic Branding by SONIC LENS (case study)

History Channel produces a lot of original content across both reality and historical drama and was looking to create a sonic identity system to tie all of their content across both worlds together organically.  Given the HBO-like quality of original…

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History Channel produces a lot of original content across both reality and historical drama and was looking to create a sonic identity system to tie all of their content across both worlds together organically.  Given the HBO-like quality of original dramas such as Vikings or Project Blue Book, History needed an extremely flexible audio signature that could feel very ‘premium’ across different genres and also fit comfortably with all their authentic real world content across a wide variety of reality programming.  As the proliferation of screens and channels has caused viewing habits to shift away from linear and perception of content to become more commoditized, brand attribution could no longer be taken for granted and the need for a flexible sonic identity system that could represent the essence of the History brand, help cement greater brand attribution across all channels, connect a wide portfolio of varied content under one master brand, and even drive engagement across social media became a challenge in need of a sophisticated approach.  The solution had to be a perfect distillation of all their strategic branding and marketing needs into a simple musical idea that could work like a skeleton key across linear and beyond.

We relied upon ‘music intelligence’, a process that puts strategy first, to first position the brand in the competitive landscape and then uncover the most potent sonic ingredients and structure for an audio signature.  One major discovery was a strong musical correlation between History’s brand values and the evocative elements found within the genesis of classic rock, coupled with unbiased consumer data establishing the highest affinity and relevance of classic rock to their audience.  The History brand wanted to evoke the authentic, non-conformist, pioneering spirit of people past and present – the ‘hands in the dirt’ attitude of real people that make history happen.   Rock pioneers like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Pete Townshend embodied this envelope pushing spirit and were able to viscerally convey this in unique and powerful ways through music.  The ‘Epic Downbeat’ and use of ‘octaves’ as a melodic device are two ingredients that inspired the “Anchor through time” mnemonic – designed to immediately transport viewers into specific worlds and situations throughout history and today. 

The History Channel mnemonic is designed to provide powerful and tasteful audio branding in all situations.  An audio branding solution with the flexibility to augment branding creative rather handcuff it, and something to grow brand love and top of mind awareness.  This mnemonic was designed to be future-proof, unique and iconic – the core of a system poised to take advantage of any branding opportunity.  Comprised of just 4 notes, the mnemonic is memorable, simple (requires only 2 beats in 4/4), belongs to no key or style (by utilizing only the root and 7th), has a syncopated pickup to grab your attention, a strong feeling of resolution, and is able to evoke the brand values of History in all situations – as a standalone mnemonic, an intro, outro, or woven into musical scores, promos, bumpers and IDs.  The mnemonic is a strategically driven and functionally designed ‘Earmark’ bringing a sense of History’s importance expressed by the most powerful musical interval (the octave) and giving History the brevity and gravitas afforded by the ‘epic downbeat’ musical device.

The “anchor through time” mnemonic is sonically unique and well positioned against their competitors and peers to not only build meaningful brand attribution and top of mind awareness, but also to give History Channel a creative voice in its branding efforts that speaks to the heart of the brand, connects with the aspirations of their audience, and provides a means to drive content and grow their brand halo across all channels.

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