The Sound of O2

Sonic Branding
Sonic Logos
In-store & Environments

The Sound of O2

  • Design Agency

    Lambie Nairn

When you hear the word O2, two concepts interchangeably spring to mind – either it’s oxygen, the air we breathe in, or it’s O2, the UK’s No.1 mobile network.

So when the latter O2 approached us, keen to incorporate oxygen into its sonic identity, we took a breath in and said “Hell yeah, let’s do this”.

Since its very beginnings, O2 has always understood the importance of including music and sound as part of its brand expression. Not only – O2’s campaigns have often made use of hidden gems by (back then) upcoming artists such as Chemical Brothers and Jamie XX, which already tells us a lot about its personality.

A bespoke sonic identity that could reinforce its values and transcend any music genre is exactly what they needed. “O2 has always had a strong visual identity so it was a natural progression to extend this into the world of sound,” says Rachel Swift, Brand and Creative Director at O2.

The Challenge

Using breath as its core element, we needed to reinvent the appearance of the human breath in sound. With breathwork at the root of O2’s identity, we had to figure out how to embed a natural link between the visuals and the brand’s aim of seeming courageous, taking risks and inviting adventure.

For a brand that speaks to such a wide demographic on so many different levels, flexibility is key. Catering to every aspect of their customer journey was paramount.

The mobile brand wanted a series of sounds and adaptations embedding this vision, with the capacity to roll them out across formats with repurposed lengths.

Given the scale of O2’s reach and its reputation for speed and efficiency, we knew that this series of sounds – including a sonic logo and other formats – would have to be flexible and engaging, yet purposeful and crafty.

The Approach

“To reimagine the human breath in sound and music, we got inspired by life’s unmissable moments and the breath you take right before you act,” explains Roscoe Williamson, Global Creative Strategy Director at MassiveMusic.

Whether it’s seeing an amazing performance live or asking someone out on a first date, we wanted the accompanying sounds to convey the sensations of these actions, embodying that emotional space before embarking on a pivotal moment, one that makes us feel alive.

We locked ourselves in the studio for days to sample and record hundreds of variations of breathing, creating a database of desirable soundscapes to return to.

The Solution

This resulted in a highly adaptive sonic experience that includes a distinctive sonic logo, which will be used to sign off future communications. Numerous modular variations of the logo, including an atonal version, were also provided to not restrict O2 in any way, providing consistency whilst still being flexible.

Thanks to our inspired and playful use of O2 and oxygen, the distinctive sonic logo and its numerous modular variations echoed the mutable nature of breathing, allowing for the reinterpretation of its form. We also crafted a long-form piece of brand music and a range of musical adaptations for different content and touchpoints.

O2 now has a flexible sonic language, one that encapsulates its brand notion of feeling more alive, blending both ethereal spaciousness with defined rhythms to reflect the transmutable state. “This comprehensive and adaptive identity will be integrated across all customer touchpoints, bringing to life the unmissable moments that our customers experience on O2,” says Rachel Swift.

From sonic installations to digital products, through to the live experience of O2’s stores and venues, ‘The Sound of O2’ surpasses what is known as traditional sonic branding by entering into a new era of sonic experience.

Buckle up, this is just the beginning.

Results

✏️ Wood Pencil at 2021 D&AD Awards for ‘Branding’
🥉 Bronze at 2021 Transform Awards Europe for ‘Best Use of Audio Brand’