Building the Outotec audio brand – How do the colors of the Earth translate into music?

Audio branding often deals with turning abstract concepts like company values, brand attributes, and aspirations into sounds. However, there are occasions when concrete cues, such as visual brand features, provide the building blocks. In fact, our brief with Outotec put us in front of an intriguing and unique challenge:
How can the colors of the Earth be turned into music?

The Brief

Our objective was to create a brand theme with an integrated audio logo that represents Outotec’s unique brand identity, while highlighting their earth-consciousness, and technological leadership. Furthermore, the theme needed to work across various touchpoints.

Outotec provides leading technologies and services for customers in the metal and mining industries. They also provide innovative solutions for industrial water treatment, the utilization of alternative energy sources, and the chemical industry. Even though their brand identity stands on strong visual guidelines, the company was lacking a consistent audio identity, that clearly represented their innovative, environmental, and adept way of working.

The Outset

As with all audio branding strategy cases, we started by analyzing the company’s current use of audio, tracking the production type, key, genre, tempo, instrumentation, moods, vocals, and voice-overs. We then conducted the same analysis for a selection of competitors to create an industry overview. Based on this hard data, we moved ahead with a production that would resonate with Outotec’s brand attributes, while differentiating them from their competitors.

Outotec’s brand attributes are: ‘trustworthy’, ‘thought leader’, ‘technology leader’, ‘driven’, and ‘good people’. These attributes called for a theme whose melody would be dominated by a strong lower register instrumentation, that highlighted the company’s tone of voice–‘Outotec’s number one product is expertise’while combining electronic and acoustic soundscapes to emphasize their environmental, yet highly technological, way of working.

The Approach

The company’s brand identity is based on the colors and the meaning of “The Stripe”, which symbolizes a journey from the Earth’s core to the outer reaches of its atmosphere. The colors include black, turquoise, light grey, blue, green, red, and graphite. We translated these into musical terms to create Outotec’s new audio brand.

Black and turquoise represent space and Earth’s atmosphere, which equate musically to premium synthesizer sounds. Light grey represents air and high-technology, so we created a palette for sound design and effects in the form of airy, clean sounding pads. Green and blue represent natural resources–soil and water–which called for a down-to-earth, human touch in the form of piano and string instrumentation. Finally, the broad lower register derives from the red and graphite colors, representing the company’s technology and thought leadership, while forming the foundation of their sound.

The Result

By combining the layers’ musical representations, Outotec’s audio brand becomes personal, recognizable, and flexible for different touchpoints. The brand theme forms the basis for a multi-touchpoint audio branding strategy, which applies to everything from product and HR videos to case studies and event ambiences. The mixture of electronic and acoustic instrumentation encapsulates their brand identity and is aligned with their mission: ‘Sustainable use of Earth’s natural resources’.

Here’s what Outotec’s Director of Brand and Global Marketing Communications Network, Lilli Nykänen, had to say about our work:

“We were especially impressed with Audiodraft’s analytical approach to translate sounds into adjectives, moods, and feelings. The initial analysis gave us great insight on how to position our sound in our industry. The data also made the internal conversation around the audio brand development really straightforward as it enabled us to discuss abstract feelings through fact based, and logical, analysis data.

The analysis and following discussions quickly lead into production where Audiodraft’s platform enabled fast turn-around through talented network of composers and audio branding specialists. The revisions of the tracks has been made easy with direct in-context commenting. The resulted audio brand resonates incredibly well with our brand attributes and is flexible for multiple stories we have to tell.”

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