The Sound of RTA

Sonic Branding
Sonic Logos
UX/UI Sounds

The Sound of RTA

    Have you ever considered how many sounds help you find your way while using public transport?

    From closing doors and ticket machines bleeping to transport announcements and seatbelt clicks – the hums and howls of two cities are never the same.

    Sound has the unique ability to unite our experience of urban life and improve our lives for the better. Hence why it’s important for a transportation company like RTA Dubai to have an ownable sonic branding strategy as a way of engaging with its customers as well as an opportunity to regenerate from the noise pollution we experience on a daily basis.

    After all, RTA stands for Roads & Transport Authority and it literally keeps Dubai moving. To keep up with the expansion of the city, RTA is constantly improving an efficient and welcoming public transport system. It allows both locals and tourists to get around and includes 5 different modes of transportation: metro, trams, buses, (water) taxis and roads.

    The Challenge

    Because of the vast amount of physical touchpoints, RTA needed a cohesive yet flexible brand sound that could reflect its (and Dubai’s) personality at its best. Not to mention the amount of content that RTA regularly produces to keep its customers informed. A lot. 

    Following on the re-branding strategy that includes happiness, positive energy, innovation and creativity as brand values, RTA needed to pair its visuals with a sound that could reflect the same juxtaposition of boldness and creativity.

    The Approach

    To start working on the sonic identity, we validated our ticket and hopped on all 5 modes of transportation to record the sounds of each – from the acceleration of the metro to the hum of a boat engine. We also recorded sounds from Dubai city as well as the desert. A fascinating contrast that highlights the multiple facets of this Middle Eastern melting pot.

    We then manipulated field recordings into samples and grouped them in the ‘melodic’, ‘percussive’ or ‘atmospheric’ categories, giving life to a palette of sounds able to create a series of multi-genre adaptations.

    The Solution

    Through playing with the speed and spatial tones, we created a series of compositions conveying different emotions. The ‘engaging’ adaptation, for instance, has a happy, family-friendly and fun tone – suitable for product or in-app noises, while the ‘transparent’ version is more ambient and ideal for event background music or voice over-heavy radio advertisements.

     Thanks to these adaptations, we defined an overarching sound for RTA Dubai, one that is clear cut, intentional and modern – with variations according to format.

    The Results

    So, what does RTA Dubai sound like?

    Like a take-me-from-A-to-B indication. 

    Clear, international and, most importantly, modern.

    Something that reflects the brand values and the energy of its +6,000 employees. It has the flexibility of being adapted not only for communications purposes but also into the very fabric of the transport system.

    After travelling around Dubai and through music, we can finally say it: 

    This is not RTA’s final destination. This is just the beginning.