For me, one of the successes of this sound DNA is with no doubt the power of what we created together.   Today, everybody recognizes those 4 little notes and knows automatically that we are speaking about SNCF.

Patrick Ropert, Managing Director Gare & Connexions

Four notes become legendary

Capturing sonic branding's power


In 2005, with new competition arriving, SNCF (French national railway) needed to move from a public utility to a brand that travelers trust as a leader. Not just a powerful leader, but one who listens to its passengers and caters to their travel experiences.

This urgent need drove their decision to capture the power of sonic branding; a decision that would result in them becoming the most iconic brand sound in France.

SNCF worked with Sixième Son on the first generation of the sonic identity in 2005. As the communication objectives of the brand evolved, Sixième Son adapted the sonic branding appropriately. The two new generations maintain the iconic 4-note melody and brand equity, but add new emphasis on eco-mobility in 2009 and on speed in 2013.

Sonic identity

Throughout each generation, the iconic sonic branding brings softness and translates the notions of proximity and of service.

2005 : With a driving tempo and confident voice, the brand’s first generation sonic identity reinforces its position as a leader in human mobility.

2009: With the rise of eco-conscious initiatives, the brand infused more acoustic instrumentation and authenticity into the sonic identity.

2013: Still remains mainly acoustic, but was recomposed with more modern textures and production techniques so as to, in effect, modernize the brand.


Today, there are more than 120 sonic branding touchpoints, all which relate to the core of the sonic brand. The most iconic being the station signal that is heard before messages throughout every train station in France and can be recognized by 90% of the French population, with only the first 2 notes.

Other sonic branding adaptations include: Customer service on-hold music, radio teaser, event opening/closing.

The commitment to consistent and coherent use of the sonic identity has resulted in the following results for the SNCF brand: 98% recognition, 94% attribution to SNCF, 90% attribution  (first two notes).



Patrick Ropert – Managing Director Gare & Connexions SNCF
Stéphane Chéry – Brand Director
Isabelle Patard – SNCF Brand and Design Director


Michael BoumendilPresident & Chief Creative Director
Laurent CochiniManaging Director
Anne-Sophie Moretti – International Project Director
Julien Goris, Vincent TurbéArt Directors
Eric Caissy, Marion Combes, Ianis Mauraisin, Hugo Letexier, Romain Debrie, Pierre MoreauDesigners