From a visual world to a sound world


by Eva Van Woerkom

Nine months ago, I changed jobs. After 9 years of experience in big branding & advertising agencies, I moved to Sixième Son, pioneer in design of sound, music and voice for brands.

During one of the first conversations with my boss, I confessed that I had no clue about the process nor a background whatsoever in music – aside from being a passionate singer in the shower and constantly listening to music. He assured me that I could use my branding background and that I would learn everything I needed sonically speaking on the spot. He explained that sound and the visual world shared more similarities than I might think. As I delved into my new role, I quickly discovered that he was right. Since then, I’ve come to describe my job as “same same but different” from my previous experience.

Sixième Son is not a music agency; it’s a branding agency with the same objectives that traditional branding agencies have. Our objectives are like traditional branding agencies, from increasing awareness, consistency and recall to federating employees behind a certain philosophy and values. And our solutions? We are seeking solutions that last in the long term, that have enough flexibility to be adapted, and that are meaningful and engaging. And yes, everything we do is derived from the brand positioning: not any different from the creation of traditional brand assets.

In the world of visual and sonic branding, I’ve realized that both face similar misconceptions when it comes to defining our professions. Just as it takes time to explain that branding goes beyond a logo, I now find myself convincing people that sonic branding is more than just a jingle. We prefer to talk about designing sonic ecosystems*.

Another parallel between the two realms is the growing demand from clients for a return on investment. To meet this need, we have developed quantitative studies tailored specifically to our field, allowing us to measure the success and impact of sound identities for our client’s brands. In this regard, we are no different from traditional branding agencies that test their work.

However, there are some differences worth mentioning between visual and audio. Where visual brand assets can be tangible, think about the design of packaging, websites, platforms and experiences, you cannot touch sound. There lies a certain ambiguity in the word “tangible”. We can easily close our eyes, but it is more challenging to close our ears. Sound is infused in our everyday lives and surrounds us when we travel, text, do our shopping, watch TV or when we date, and is in the end perhaps more present (or tangible) than anything else. It’s a different way of transmitting emotions, less intrusive, more immersive.

As the number of touchpoints between brands and consumers has increased over the years, sonic branding has become more relevant than ever. Brands strive for consistent, inclusive, and unique brand experiences that forge genuine relations with their audiences. Unlike videos that may require subtitles or translations, sound and music serve as a universal language that doesn’t know any borders, that everyone “speaks” and feels connected to.

To enrich myself in a new environment where I hear talented colleagues compose is a true delight. I learn, grow and develop my ears and passion for branding, fully embracing the “same same but different” nature of my new adventure.

*If you wish to know more about this, don’t hesitate to reach out: