Pioneers of Sound Branding: Siemens

A few weeks ago the Sound Branding Blog was able to talk to Jürgen Barthel, Head of Corporate Design at Siemens. Jürgen Barthel is involved in Brand Management at Siemens. He was one of the pioneers to acknowledge the importance of corporate sound and is the Master Mind behind the acoustic identity of Siemens.

Jürgen Barthel who studied graphic design combines extensive experience from companies as diverse as Grundig, Rosenthal, and Siemens, as well as from his years at the advertising agency Publicis.

The Interview:

Sound Branding Blog (SBB): Thank you Mr. Barthel for taking your time to share your expert knowledge of the Siemens Sound Branding Project with us. You are one of the first movers in the field of corporate acoustic identities and can look back on quite a few years of experience. When and how did you first get involved in Sound Branding?

Mr. Barthel: Seven years ago I felt that the time was ripe to consider all senses in communications and to integrate this topic in our system of Corporate Design. As we had already sound knowledge in visual aspects it was obvious to proceed with the sonic aspects.

Jürgen Barthel, Head of Corporate Design SiemensSBB: Was it easy to place and implement a topic like Sound Branding in an engineer driven culture as it exists at Siemens?

Mr. Barthel: It was not easy and it is not easy to this day. But we tried to develop a Sound Branding concept which fits to the Brand and to the culture of Siemens. We started with a reasonable logical idea – but we also laid emphasis on the emotional impact of sound and music.

SBB: How do you actually implement a Sound Branding in a large corporation like Siemens? What issues do you have to pay attention to and where do you see the biggest difficulties and pitfalls?

Mr. Barthel: The first step of implementation tried to build up a basic understanding what Sound Branding means. This was a didactic phase – followed by a phase in which we focused on the combination between visual, sonic and motion. Only with the application of Sound Branding in audiovisual media the in practice implementation became really successful and perceivable.

SBB: What are the factors of success for a Sound Branding project?

Mr. Barthel: The concept has to be unique and adequate to the brand and its values. Sound Branding has to be an integrated element in a holistic system. And we offer as many download elements as possible – ready for use. Not only the sound tracks of our music library – but a lot of professional audiovisual elements for professional users. These pragmatic tools promoted the implementation much better than all sophisticated arguments and reasoning.

SBB: Would you do anything different (regarding the Sound Branding project) if you could start over again?

Mr. Barthel: Although it might sound arrogant or unadventurous – I would do it more or less in the same way.

SBB: Looking back, are you satisfied with the Siemens’ achievements regarding Sound Branding?

Barthel: Frankly spoken: I was very enthusiastic about this project from the very beginning – and I expected the same enthusiasm from everybody. As a result the implementation seems to be too slow and uninspired for me. But I have to accept that we’re just at the beginning of the process – last but not least we still have to learn ourselves and adjust and improve the concept. It will take some more years to establish Sound Branding as an equal complement to Visual Branding. If we will finally have reached that goal I’ll start with the implementation of “Olfactory Branding”. Promised!

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