In late 2007, Shouvik Roy, founder director, Brand Planet Elephant and Anupam Sen Gupta, a veteran musician and music consultant, came together to design a workshop format that brings music closer to corporate houses in a meaningful way.
Down the line, their endeavour to surge ahead with a nascent category like audio/sonic branding paid off and the product that they devised - Anthems - has made it to the Limca Book of Records in February 2009. Of late, their efforts and experiences have found a mention in a list of global case studies as the only Asian entry to be published in the book 'Audio-Branding' by Kai Bronner and Rainer Hirt.
For branding purposes, visual elements such as logos, textures and symbols are used by various brands. Along with these, signature tunes also caught up quickly as brands started boasting their jingles and tunes. However, this is where Roy decided to take a detour.
He explains, "Even for brands such as ICICI or Airtel, for which especially AR Rehman was assigned to compose the tune, it is still an outside player who decides. This is where I thought - why not involve the employees or the workforce, who are an integral part of the company and the brand."
According to him, just as countries have their anthems, brands should have one, too. The result was the product called Anthems which is now marketed by Brand Planet Elephant and Blue Sky Learning.
Though the use of music for advertising is not a new invention, new media such as audio podcasts and audio books expand the possibilities for audio branding and sonic branding.
As a part of the exercise, the duo conducts Anthems workshops for clients and over the past 15 months, they have partnered with clients such as Airtel, Cairn India, Baxter, Genpact, Hewitt and Hewlett Packard (Singapore and India). In fact, it is their first ever workshop with WWF India's North Bank Landscape team that has made it as a case study in the Audio Branding Journal of the World.
The final composition is then recorded digitally in the mobile music studio carried by the facilitators and handed over to all the participants at the end of each workshop. A workshop can stretch between two hours to five days. The participants mostly represent the top level leadership.
Roy recounts, "For Airtel, we had a team of 70 people represented by all levels of the management belonging to the North East states circle. The workshop was great and the team used the tune they had composed as their Hello Tune. It was also used as ringtones, in desk phones and for other purposes."
A similar example according to him was that of the HP Singapore workshop, which had country managers and leaders of 12 countries of the company's storage division participating in it. Out of the 45 people who had participated, Jim Wagstaff's (leader of the storage business for HP's APAC region) voice was used in the recorded song, says Roy.
Sen Gupta adds, "Having experienced various aspects of performing arts, especially music, I was looking for avenues to explore serious allied applications in schools and the corporate world, capturing its spirit and converting it into a team. Anthem, by the participants, came as a refreshing change in my profession with both logic and emotion being given equal value and importance."
For Roy, Anthems combines his love for music and corporate branding very neatly. He says, "One of the biggest challenges in any corporate branding exercise is dissemination of values and we find that music is a great way to spread the magic."