Julian Treasure is chairman of The Sound Agency, a UK-based consultancy that helps clients achieve better results by optimising the sound they make. We asked him what the future holds for audio branding, and if his famous TED talks had any effect:
I gave this talk in 2009, since then a lot has changed – and a lot has not. This talk turned into a series of four talks on TED.com, all about sound and now with estimated global viewing figures of around five million. That's very exciting because it tells me two things.
First, there is a great pent-up thirst for knowledge about sound: people almost universally find sound fascinating, even though (as I say in this talk) most people spend most of their time unconscious of the sound around them, suppressing it in a reflex they have learned for a whole variety of reasons. For more on these, see my talk on listening below.
Second, the cracks are starting to appear in the dam. Not only do five million views start to make a difference, in the corporate world, the discipline of audio branding (which is my real day job) is gaining real traction. Many of the world's top brands are now treating audio as an obvious and essential element of a complete brand identity, instead of an exotic luxury add-on.
At the recent Audio Branding Congress, which brought together practitioners and academics from more than 30 countries, the awards were contested by a diverse group of international brands. The Gold award went to Harrods, for whom The Sound Agency had carried out a sound audit of all 300+ departments, created a strategy for sound and then commenced implementation with an innovative suite of generate soundscapes in the new Toy Kingdom.
The Audio Branding Academy's annual survey showed industry growth in 2012 of over 35%. Not bad for a deep recession… and yet there is so much more to do. For every brand with formal sound guidelines there are hundreds without. The next few years look very exciting – so listen to this space!