Tag: identity

Harmonics. Brand Harmonics.

Last month, Sam Smith won an OSCAR at the 88th Academy Awards for “Writing’s on the Wall,” an original song he wrote for Spectre, the 24th installment in the James Bond film franchise. “Writing’s on the Wall” is not the first James Bond title theme to win an OSCAR (that honor went to Adele for “Skyfall”), but it joins an impressive number of chart-topping and award-winning musical siblings, including ”Goldfinger” (Shirley Bassey), “Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney & Wings), “Nobody Does It Better” (Carly Simon), “A View to a Kill” (Duran Duran),  and “For Your Eyes Only” (Sheena Easton).

From Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The success of Bond music offers a great lesson for brands.

All of these popular title themes have a harmonic signature that is composed to complement the world famous James Bond theme (think fat guitar twanging “dum di-di dum dum”). That instantly-recognizable theme may be one of the greatest examples of sonic branding of all time. Created by Monty Norman and advanced by composer John Barry, the theme relies on four simple chords that alternate between major and minor. This pattern holds the magic that has allowed five decades of pop stars to riff on it in a contemporary and relevant way. Audiences sense a Bond theme before it has fully played out. The brand is revealed without cluttering the song. It is the true secret agent.

Many brands have learned to achieve this goal through visual means. You can sense the presence of Apple in a commercial without seeing a logo, for example. Modern visual identity systems often work harder than the logo itself. Typography, color palette, imagery and grid systems provide powerful cues that trigger our mind to credit a brand. But fewer brands achieve this goal with sound. For brands that are bold enough to employ sonic branding, most rely on mnemonics (the Southwest “bing”) and jingles (McDonald’s Ba-da-da-da-da … I’m Lovin’ It). But imagine trying to compose a pop song around these devices. You might succeed once. But could you build a legacy like Bond’s with this approach? Doubtful.

The Point of Attachment Podcast: The Thing That Is The Thing

Run Time: about 25 minutes

Brand Studio Creative Director Marcus Bartlett is fond of asking teams “what is the thing that is the thing?” It’s more than a riddle. It’s the beginning of a conversation to link a story to a brand idea—a way of avoiding the obvious and hinting at the symbolic value of a brand that drives brand attachment. In episode 002 of The Point of Attachment podcast, studio chief Larry Vincent asks Marcus to break it down for the audience.



The thing that is the thing might be a hook or a reference. It’s a way of connecting the promise–the strategy–to something that creatively attracts our interests.

The Point of Attachment Podcast: You Are What You Post

Run Time: about 17 minutes

It’s often said that “you are what you eat.” In the first episode of The Point of Attachment podcast we build off of Brand Dependence research on social media conducted earlier this year to ask the question: are you what you post? Or, in other words, how much of what people display and share online reflects who they really are?


UTA Brand Studio chief Larry Vincent interviews Mimi, a power user on Fancy.com who has posted over 1,200 unique images on the service as Studio Mimi, creating a consistently rich and luxurious online world that has attracted over 45,000 followers.  In Mimi’s world, it’s always a perfect day at the beach, which is interesting because the real Mimi lives in the northeast, where it’s often more grey than sunny.


Fancy gives you an opportunity to live virtually.  And there is a huge part of me that is absolutely locked and loaded to the West Coast, even when I’m in the middle of an ice storm here.

And therein lies the heart of our episode: is it real if it’s not really real? Mimi says yes.  “What you’re seeing is absolutely me. To the core. And it’s authentic.”