The Sound of Colgate

Sonic Branding
Sonic Logos
Colgate woman smiling

The Sound of Colgate

  • Creative Strategy and Innovation Director

    ROSCOE WILLIAMSON

  • Agency

    WPP RedFuse

Did you know that you use 17 muscles when you smile?

Iconic oral care brand Colgate is beloved by many and easily one of the most recognisable brands in the world. And to own the ‘white space’ in FMCG and shine bright like a diamond, it decided to use the power of music and sound.

Considering its rich history of over 200 years, we developed a suite of sonic assets and compositions to be heard on all brand communications worldwide for more than 200 markets. Can you imagine how many teeth that is?

Colgate woman smiling
Colgate woman smiling

The Challenge

In the process of reshaping its brand identity, Colgate got in touch with MassiveMusic London to develop a memorable and modern sonic brand that could:

  • live across its +200 markets
  • have global appeal and relevance
  • provide new opportunities for distinguishing itself from the sector 
  • be recalled by consumers

In short, something to hit the sweet spot.

The main challenges? To embody Colgate’s promise of weaving ‘optimism in action’ through its affiliated music. We knew that the sound had to be flexible so that it could be smoothly implemented across touchpoints and all of the brand’s product offerings.

Embedding its personality into the sonic identity while striking the balance between practicality and light-heartedness was also part of the plan.

The Approach

Our London office turned to science to create sounds that resonated and inspired emotion reflective of the brand’s positive influence.

Colgate is a brand used by millions around the world, so its sonic brand needed to be culturally and regionally agnostic.

In our research stage, we spoke to some of the world’s leading sound experts to find out about the impacts of sound and understand innate sonic behaviour. Turns out that, according to ethnomusicologist Joseph Jordania, “there is overwhelming evidence that humming among contemporary humans is the expression of enjoyment”. 

So we decided to create a number of adaptations of the sound, first creating a universal sonic logo that could be easily recognisable and overlaid over the brand’s iconic animated moving smile. It needed to activate emotions in listeners without being overbearing so that it could continue to be adapted across iterations.

“We needed to create a sonic architecture that could tie Colgate’s diverse marketing content and geographical reach together with a sound that could be universally understood as both optimistic and unmistakably Colgate,” says Roscoe Williamson, Creative Strategy and Innovation Director at MassiveMusic London. “Working with a team of academics and psychologists, we were able to really decode the ingredients of optimistic music. The result is showing to be highly recallable and adaptable.”

The Solution

So, how do you incorporate the human hum into Colgate’s sonic logo?

Using the D Major key – a note widely considered to embody optimism – we blended both feminine and masculine tones to record a 2-second sound with effects to make it feel more intimate, natural and real. 

For an overarching approach to the Colgate brand sound, our research pointed us in the direction of musical ingredients such as strong beats, thrills, bright sounds and surprising moments. We also made sure the core sonic DNA was adaptive and flexible enough, to be able to work in many different styles and music genres, but always unmistakably Colgate.

The Results

Having Colgate’s sonic identity validated by scientific discovery made its resonance even more powerful. It meant that the sound would subconsciously tap into listeners’ psyche and have them unknowingly influenced and swayed by its cheery tune.

“The process, collaboration and outcome was fascinating and really enjoyable,” says Jared Richardson, Global Head of Design at Colgate. “The MassiveMusic team has an innate ability to synthesise complex and emotional feedback and produce something that is rooted in strategy and science, and yet still intrinsically linked to the brand. They hit the perfect note with this project that is now hugely strategically valuable across our global marketing campaigns and we look forward to continuing developing this side of our brand.”

The result? A universal sound of optimism that will make you tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. You better brace yourself.

Awards

While we may already have known that this project was particularly special, we at MassiveMusic can now proudly announce that we have additionally won at the 2022 Red Dot Awards in the ‘Brands & Communication Design’ category. Being one of the world’s biggest design competitions, we take this award as a point of pride for our efforts and an opportunity to appreciate how far we’ve come.

After winning a Red Dot, we’re more than happy to announce that we can add a golden Transform Award in the ‘Best Use of Audio Branding’ category to our list. Since the Transform North America Awards focus on celebrating excellence in rebranding and brand strategy, we’re delighted to have made it onto the winner’s list.

Let’s make your brand massive through the power of music and sound.

 

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Charles Gadsdon

Global Director of Growth

charles@massivemusic.com