GIVE IT TONE
Sound signatures for The New York Times, Comedy Central & Showtime
How do you reinforce a brand’s connection to you psychologically, across all mediums?
The mnemonic is one of the key attributes of the New York Times video brand. It is inseparable from the “Player T” logo and appears before every NYT video. The challenge was to create a sound signature that both conveys the gravitas of the Times and also works equally well in front of a story about fashion or one about terrorism.
The first sound represents the heritage and warmth of the Times followed by a nimble, digitally-generated tone that signals a start and references the tone used to sync sound.
We worked with composer Nico Muhly, who used nine different instruments to create depth and Phillip Glass’ engineer to guarantee the sound could withstand the effects of video compression and the wide gamut of speakers from laptops to phones.
As a mark, or form of punctuation, the “comedymark” is accompanied by equally punctual audio. The comedymark is made to leave an impression on the viewer’s brain, creating recognition and awareness in a split second. This is where sound becomes a strong ally. The logo can also scale in pitch and loudness—in addition to size— relative to content. Large comedymarks make large sounds, tiny comedymarks make tiny sounds.
Built on the same four note structure Showtime had been using for decades, we removed the overly orchestrated and grandiose mini promo and turned it into a quick digital pulse, a heartbeat to make a human connection between Showtime and the viewer. The four notes can be used singularly in other applications to reinforce the brand.