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Audio Logos

“I really do think that under ideal circumstances the music should be a character.”

Elmer Bernstein 

It frightens. It deranges. It is subversive. It mistrusts what it sees, what it hears. It dares to doubt. It acts even if it errs. It infiltrates preconceived notions. It rattles established certitudes. It incessantly invents new ways, new vocabularies. It provokes and changes points of view. (Fabrica, Benetton Research Centre Italy, 2012)


We now begin our journey into the creative process of writing, exploring and composing music for film and digital media.  Creativity is at the heart of what we are trying to do.  Many of us don’t even realize that we have processes that we follow in the craft that we engage in while others use tried and proven methods to produce results.  For example, some may compose a melody first and then harmonize it, others write a harmonic progression and then embellish it with a melody, and others do both at the same time.  Creativity is a personal process.  It is about generating solutions to a particular challenge.  We all don’t take the same path and sometimes the path that we do take leads to failure.  Meta-cognition allows for self-criticism which is much needed in a highly critical professional community.


Thinking about thinking, or meta cognition, can play an important role in our success or failures.  Knowing what processes, you went through can allow you to analyze where it went wrong and where it went well.  This will allow for improvements in your thinking and cause you to develop a process unique to yourself.


When thinking about thinking you may wish to consider the four stages of the creative process as described by J. Stillman.  


Illustration 5.1: Stages of the Creative Process


The preparations stage is about the desire to be creative and generate energy toward a goal.  It is about research and collecting as much information as possible and not limiting oneself.  This knowledge helps in developing new ideas, solutions, or processes during the incubation stage.  Csikszentmihalyi, in Creativity and Flow, noted that there are two types of creative motivations.  First autotelic engagement has no expectation of reward while exotelic is motivation for reward.  This stage is also referred to as the aspiring stage.


Exercise 5.1

Begin a music journal of motifs, counterpoint patterns, harmonic progressions and other musical ideas as an autotelic exercise, one that may or may not come into play in the future.


Incubation is about letting your mind wander during other activities.  It is the unconscious or conscious thought taking place while, for example walking or taking an elevator.  During this stage your thinking is teasing out possibilities and filtering those ideas you think will work and those you don’t.  The incubation stage can also be referred to as the germinating stage.  


Illumination is the summative discovery from the incubation stage and realizing one has the insight to a new idea or process.  It is commonly referred to as a “eureka” moment and could be referred to as the deepening stage.


Last, verification is part of the practical or completion phase in which you execute your idea, complete it and evaluate it.  Keep in mind that “for creativity to reach others and accomplish anything, you need to once again use those critical thinking skills to think about your audience and craft your message or idea.” (J. Stillman)  Further to her notion, I would suggest that thinking about your audience, in the context of composing for film, is something that should be considered in the preparation stage.  No doubt the concept and style of the imagery will give one direction on how best to proceed.  The following video entitled How to Be Creative provides additional ideas regarding this subject:

Example Video 5.1: PBS Off Book – How to be Creative














In closing this brief introduction to creativity, I ask you to consider the common axiom that “being creative is seeing the same thing as everybody else but thinking of something different."  Have a sense of play to see outside the norm.


Audio Logos

Audio logos or audio branding are the marriage between a visually appealing company logo with suitable music or sound.  It creates a bond between the purpose and intent of the logo with an equally created musical event.  An audio logo uses all rhythm, harmony and melody but it also focuses on a distinguishing sound texture.  In essence, timbre and texture play an important role in capturing the feelings and purpose of the logo.  There is no need to have multiple tracks but rather the focus should be on a more simplistic approach with fewer sounds but the right ones.  That includes both color and motive matching the design and shape of the logo.


Review the following audio logos and discuss elements of color and audio styling in class:


Example Cues 5.1 – 5.14 Audio Logos














Mac startup | Apple Inc.

Originally composed by Jim Reekes














Intel logo | Intel Corporation

Originally composed by Walter Werzowa















PlayStation startup | Sony Corporation

Composed by Takafumi Fujisawa















GameCube startup | Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Composed by Toru Minegishi
















THX logo | THX Ltd.

Originally composed by James A. Moorer
















MGM logo | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Originally created by Howard Dietz















20th Century Fox logo | Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Originally composed by Alfred Newman
















Nokia logo | Nokia Corporation

Originally composed by Francisco Tárrega















Windows 95 startup | Microsoft Corporation

Composed by Brian Eno
















McDonald’s jingle | McDonald’s

Originally heard in Justin Timberlake’s I’m Lovin’ It

















NBC jingle | NBC Universal Media, LLC

Originally conceived by Phillips Carlin
















Yahoo! jingle | Yahoo! Inc.

Performed by Wylie Gustafson
















LG jingle | LG Electronics Inc.
















Mercedes-Benz branding | Mercedes-Benz


Exercise 5.2  Static Logos

Discussion the approach you may take in creating an audio logo for the each of the following logos (type of sound, texture, number of instruments, possible motivic ideas and what questions you may need to ask about the logo).


Illustration 5.2. Various Companies’ Logos



Internet Labelled for Reuse



Creativity on Demand 5.1.  Invent Audio Logo

Invent a company name and what their product is.  Provide adjectives that best describe what this company does.  Now create a 10 second audio logo for this company.  You may use any sounds in your toolbox.  You have 20 minutes for this project.  The aim with an imposed time limit is to proves there is no such thing as writers block.  Share in class both the name of the company, its purpose, and your newly created audio logo.  Note that the end result does not need to be polished but should capture the essence of product through sound.  Exchange ideas about effectiveness, what one could do to improve the work and your process for creating it (meta-cognition).



Exercise 5.3.  Extended Audio Cue

While the logo COD exercise was short and likely produced some excellent results, this exercise is to take the idea of a short audio brand and expand it to informational news clip with no dialogue and only visuals and print.  See example cue 5.15–5.16.  Conduct a search on YouTube, CNN, or your favorite site and find a short 1-1’30” news video.  Open movie in logic and under movie preferences, mute original sound.  

Illustration 5.3 Logic Movie Preferences





Now create a musical texture using as many MIDI tracks (virtual sounds) for the video that you think are suitable for the subject matter.  This exercise provides incubation time and therefore should be done as a week-long assignment that can be worked on in class during which time feedback can be provided on an ongoing basis.  Collaborations are encouraged.  Once completed, share with other students in-class and use the following evaluation tool for each student to evaluate the other students:



The purpose in having students evaluate each other is to encourage the use of film music language covered thus far in the text as well as learning to be a critical analysist, one that provides constructive suggestions in leu of weaknesses.  Being analytical is something they already do with their own work and others will always evaluate your work in this industry.


Example Cue 5.15–CNN Travel
















Example Cue 5.16–CNN Travel














Having created both an audio logo on demand (which could be further developed later) and a sound track for a news short, we now have a foundation (process of our creativity) on which to continue the study of composition for film and digital media with minimalism techniques in the next chapter.

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