The Sound of KLM

Sonic Branding
UX/UI Sounds
Brand Audit
In-store & Environments

The Sound of KLM

    Everyone knows what an airplane sounds like. But what does an airline sound like? KLM (by Dutchies also known as the Koninklijke Luchtvaartmaatschappij) is an airline established in the Netherlands in 1919. Generally recognised as the oldest airline currently still in service, KLM reached out to us because they were missing an overarching and consistent sonic identity.


    KLM also faced a lack of brand awareness across the ocean. In North America, it was associated with a gospel radio station and not with an airline.

    When we started working with KLM, our objective was clear: creating a unique sonic identity that could distinguish the Dutch brand in the marketplace and leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that it is an airline.


    Our first task was to explore KLM’s four core brand values and how they could be expressed through sound and music:

    1. Dutch: KLM has its roots in the Netherlands and it proudly wants to express the majestic and rousing feeling of Dutch spirit
    2. Open: KLM is always approachable and personal – a brand with a friendly, human touch
    3. Reliable: KLM has been getting you there and back safely for longer than any other airline in the world
    4. Inspiration: For KLM, a real journey is not just about moving, it’s about being moved

    To leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that KLM is, in fact, the oldest airline in the world and not a gospel radio station, we included some classic sounds associated with flying – such as an airplane taking off and the ‘ping’ of the seatbelt sign switching on.


    With all of our ingredients in place, the four values and the airplane sounds, our solution was a composition that hints at the royal Dutch roots and friendly personality of KLM.

    Once done with the anthem, we used this piece of music to develop the sonic logo and seamlessly weave its recognisable melody into all of KLM’s content. Because KLM uses a variety of audiovisual content across various touchpoints, we advised to go with a customised logo strategy – this meant that the sonic logo would always consist of the same melody, yet flexible enough to suit the needs of each execution.

    To ensure that KLM would always have a consistent and recognisable sonic element, we also used watermarking and subtly weaved the KLM melody into the score of each piece of content.

    Overall, KLM now has:

    • A recognisable sonic logo based on its brand values
    • The option to customise the sonic logo to every touchpoint and situation
    • A music bank with all the different sounds and melodies for all KLM employees

    Be on the lookout for our tune the next time you find yourself on a KLM flight, and don’t forget to remain seated until the seatbelt sign switches off. *pling*

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


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    Friso Hoekstra

    Head of Production