It's been in the news again recently that electric car manufacturers will need to create an artificial sound due to the dangers of being undetected by unsuspecting pedestrians. Yet what might seem a headache to the engineers who have spent decades perfecting the art of silence, this may be an unforeseen opportunity.
Legally sounds can be trademarked, but can they be used by brandowners to create and own unique experiences? Of course they can. Visual tools lead brand engagement and sounds present opportunities for brands to extend this and enrich the user experience. The sound of a Triumph motorcyles’ three-stroke engine, the classic Nokia ringtone, the tannoy of the London Underground - all brand experiences where sound is central.
The sound a car emits should also be consumer-driven (excuse the pun). After all, consumers now have a much more active and engaged relationship with brands: Could car manufacturers invite consumers to offer suggestions for a vehicle's signature noise, perhaps through an open-source competition, or should they concentrate on encapsulating brand truths – anyone keen on the rich purr of Rolls Royce? Or the cheeky liveliness of a Smart car?
Some car manufacturers are already on the case. In typical forward-thinking fashion, Toyota has been researching how they can make vehicles emit a 'beautiful, futuristic sound, in the vein of the film Bladerunner'. A nice idea but it's difficult to imagine the world of art playing such a prominent part in the decision-making process. The final track will surely be bound by commercial, legal and pragmatic constraints.Tweet
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