What does Europe sound like?

Have you ever wondered why the European Union’s audiovisual identity has no audio? I have.


Since creating The Europe Song for the European Commission, I’ve been on a sonic quest. The idea is to help the EU develop an audio identity by the year 2022. That year marks 200 years since Beethoven started writing the tune now known as the the Anthem of Europe.


Here’s how brands like SNCF are using sound to build recognition, trust and positive sentiment. They’re already proving that sound is the EU’s most undervalued sensory communications tool.


Where’s the audio in EU communications?


To get the ball rolling, I posed this question on Twitter. Click on the tweet to see the replies:




The Europe Song – a case study


I’ve been experimenting with audio communications using music from The Europe Song. I’d designed the song as an integrated 3-part “audio pool” of melodies, rhythms and textures that can be embedded into any EU communication product. (The music is free to use for non-commercial purposes. Contact me for the 60 audio stems).


Here are some of the early experiments. I’ll add more soon.


Before releasing The Europe Song to the public, we kicked off the story beforetime via Soonfeed. My old cassette recording of “Side A” served as a hook for both the backstory and the opening melody line:



The Europe Song was expertly trolled (mostly by the Dutch far right) as soon as it went live. So we created this earworm as a stock response to trolls who ignore all rational argument:



When #EUSupergirl visited Brussels to gather support for her campaign to stop Brexit, we produced some teaser videos that featured the signature crescendo from The Europe Song:



What is an “audio identity”?


It’s also known as audio branding, sound branding, sonic branding, acoustic branding, whatever you want to call it. An audio identity is more than just a sound logo at the end of a corporate video, a jingle on the radio or (in the EU’s case) a 200-year old anthem played at keynote events. It’s a holistic process that communicates the essence, values and promise of a brand within a multi-sensory branding strategy, and which typically includes some or all of the following elements:


Audio logo – SNCF, French railway company (2005), updated with “whoosh” (2012)



Functional sounds – MS Windows XP, computer operating system (2001)



Soundscapes – Metropolis, German sci-fi film (1927)



Soundtracks – Trainspotting, film (1996); Lust for Life, Iggy Pop song (1977)



Song/AnthemAnthem of Europe (1985); aka Ode to Joy, from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (1823)



Why does the EU need audio communication?


Good question! The short answer is that sound increases brand awareness, trust and positive sentiment. I think we can agree that the European Union needs some help in these areas.


If you’re looking for a longer answer, join me on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates as this live blog unfolds. Or, even better, let’s talk.


Richard Medic is founding chief of happeningo communications and Soonfeed media.