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The Sound Agency | Harrods wins 2012 Audio Branding Award

UK based audio branding consultancy The Sound Agency has won the 2012 Audio Branding Award for its work for Harrods, beating competition from all over the world.

The fourth annual Audio Branding Congress saw the coming together of the world’s sound branding community – agencies, clients and academics with a common passion for the intentional, appropriate and effective use of sound in branding, marketing and business.

Held for the first time in the UK, at the beautiful Oxford Examination Schools, the highlight of ABC2012 was the Audio Branding Award. Seven finalists had been selected from many international entries by an august panel of judges. Each finalist presented its case at ABC2012, and the 130 delegates then voted to select the gold, silver and bronze award winners.

The gold award went to The Sound Agency for its work with Harrods, in partnership with BRANDsense agency. This major project has already been running for some two years. It started with a sound audit of the entire store involving more than 250 readings, each comprising a surround-sound recording, sound pressure level measurement, qualitative analysis and a photograph. The audit produced a set of recommended actions. Next came The Sound Agency’s BrandSound™ Workshop for a top team from Harrods: the output from this workshop’s set of intensive exercises produced the foundations for Harrods BrandSound Guidelines. All of this work was then integrated by The Sound Agency into a full strategy for sound, which identified over 140 separate zones, listed and prioritised dozens of discrete actions from quick wins to major strategic initiatives, identified more than 30 music playlists and 20 generative soundscapes* to be produced and installed, and designed a hi-tech delivery system that will deliver any sound in high quality to any zone at the touch of a button. All of the new sound is designed to express the Harrods brand values – British, luxury, innovation, service and sensation – with varied creative activations according to the specific department, customers, environment and time.

The first fruits of the strategy can be heard in the recently-refurbished Toy Kingdom, where five state-of-the-art generative soundscapes* create a magical experience, enhancing the beautiful visual and tactile design of the space. The new Harrods sound will now roll out as an integral part of the store refurbishment programme, eventually covering the entire store.

Commenting on the award, The Sound Agency’s Chairman Julian Treasure said: “We are thrilled and honoured to be recognised by our peers for this groundbreaking project. This award reflects the excitement among the audio branding community that this showcase project opens the door to a new world for retail sound – one where carefully designed  soundscapes form part of a complete, beautiful multisensory experience, in stark contrast to the old, now scientifically invalidated, practice of veneering poor quality music on top of lots of noise.”

*Generative sound is played live by The Sound Agency’s Ambifier™ system; it continually evolves based on probabilistic algorithms, to create organic ‘aural wallpaper’ that can enhance any retail space. The Ambifier can emulate natural or urban soundscapes or musical genres – or it can integrate leading-edge sound design to produce wholly new soundscapes.

About The Sound Agency
The Sound Agency is a UK-based international consultancy that helps organisations achieve better results by optimising the sound they make. Services include carrying out sound audits, creating BrandSound™ guidelines, creating sound logos and brand music, and especially designing and installing generative retail soundscapes. Proven benefits include improved customer satisfaction, more valuable brands, increased sales for retailers and higher workforce productivity. The Sound Agency has worked with some of the world’s leading brands, including Coca-Cola, BP, Nokia, Honda, Capital Shopping Centres, Hammerson, Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Waldorf Hotels and Heathrow and Glasgow Airports. 
TSA’s chairman Julian Treasure is author of the book Sound Business. His four talks on sound have been viewed by more than five million people and he has been widely featured in the world’s leading media. He is an international platform speaker, and a leading expert on the effective use of sound by organisations. His vision is to create a world that sounds beautiful.
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