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Sonic Conversations #4 - Frank Suyker

In a series of in-depth conversations with thoughtleaders across the globe we will discuss the evolving role of sound and music in todays's marketing, branding and design. Here Frank Suyker, Corporate Communications Manager and Brand Consultant at Karo shares his views on the matter as well as his personal experience with sonic branding.


Frank Suyker is an experienced and passionate brand builder and communications specialist. After working as an Art Director and managing his own design studio he is currently looking after the brand of Karo, a world leading company in everyday healthcare. Frank is also sought after as an inspirational keynote speaker.


“To me it is down to one simple question – do you want to sound the same as everyone else, or do you want to sound like you?” – Frank Suyker


 

Unmute: Can you recall an early memory from your childhood or youth where music moved you or made a big impression on you?


Frank: I remember attending the Mega Music Dance Experience when I was only 16 years old (that’s almost 24 years ago). It was a big electronic dance event in The Netherlands. It sticked with me that so many people can dance to the same tune, be in the same vibe and have fun together. To me, that is one of the greatest impacts that music can have.


Unmute: And now in your professional life as a brand and marketing specialist have you been involved in any specific project where sound and/or music played a significant or leading role?


Frank: Together with Unmute we have developed the Karo brand sound identity. From Karo’s side I was involved from a client/brand perspective. Within our industry (healthcare) we were one of the first companies to pay attention to sonic branding, and how it can help a brand to stand out.


Unmute: Yes, we had the pleasure of working together on the sonic identity for Karo together with Studio C. Can you share your thoughts and reasonings behind and perhaps some of the concerns you as a company had before engaging in such a project?

Frank: This was our first time working on a sonic branding project. It is a bit difficult to see (or actually hear) what the end result is going to be. It is not something that is easy to visualize, especially at the start of the project.


The reason why we wanted to develop our own sonic identity, was that we didn’t want to sound like everyone else. Yes, you can buy stock music and put that below your videos, but then you don’t have a unique sound. We want to share our own voice. Our own identity. And by doing so, become a more memorable brand.


Unmute has really guided us through the development of our sonic branding, and they have a great process that translates your existing visual identity into sound. Part of our identity are our four core values; Challenge, Act, Connect and Care. All four values are represented in our brand sound.


Unmute: Good to hear! After the sonic identity was delivered how did you experience the implementation of the assets and the impact they had on your work with Karo afterwards?


Frank: We actually have two brand songs, and a brand ident. Our own tune has become memorable and works as an identifier for Karo.


Unmute: We all know how sound and music can influence brand perception but what would be your advice to other companies who want to start using sound and music in a more intentional and strategic way?


Frank: I think brand sound is still one of the most underused brand assets. It can have such a great impact on your brand awareness. To me it is down to one simple question – do you want to sound the same as everyone else, or do you want to sound like you?


Unmute: Couldn't agree more. But even though it’s growing in awareness and popularity sonic branding is still unknown territory for many brands. Why is that so and why do you think sound/music is often an afterthought in many creative processes?


Frank: I think it is rare that brands will include sound when they develop their identity. It still is an overlooked part of a brands’ identity. And while it’s gaining popularity, let me ask you this. How many visual brand identity designers are there, and how many brand sound designers? To me, the latter is more difficult and requires a rare specialty – sound engineering. Not many people have that as a profession and that starts with education. I expect that we will need a lot more sound engineers when voice/sound is really taking off in the next few years.


Unmute: So in an ever changing media landscape how do you see the future for sonic branding and in which way do you think brands and music will interact in the coming years?


Frank: I don’t think that the way brands and music interact will change. However, I do believe that brand owners will become more aware of what sound can do for their brand, and that will change the scene - and I will be looking forward to hearing more unique brand sounds in the near future.

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