ConocoPhillips – The Sound of Spirit
ConocoPhillips – The Sound of Spirit
ConocoPhillips is an U.S.-headquartered multinational exploration and production company. The company has a significant global presence and embraces its role in responsibly accessing, developing and producing oil and natural gas to help meet the world’s energy needs, both today and throughout the energy transition.
At ConocoPhillips, the SPIRIT Values are foundational to the brand. SPIRIT stands for Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork. These values guide how work is done and are shared across the organization.
ConocoPhillips aimed to convey these values through sound and music, seeking a deeper connection with both their audience and employees. This presented a distinctive challenge, one that our team of branding specialists and composers eagerly embraced with a positive attitude.
Based on their needs, we assembled the following team for this project;
Anton Sherar – Creative Lead
John Cleworth – Audio Branding Specialist
Søren Bang – Audio Branding Specialist
Stian Vedøy – Sound Designer & Composer
Besides the SPIRIT values, ConocoPhillips has a unique visual logo called “the mark.” As you can see in the picture above, one visual expression of the mark features ribbon-like long and flowing forms that are intertwined with each other; these served as core inspiration for how the overall sound should move and be experienced.
An instantly recognizable symbol, the mark can take on various expressions. Beyond the ribbon, linear, solid and three-dimensional marks express different aspects of the company. For example, the fluid three-dimensional variant in the ConocoPhillips logo represents the brand’s flexibility, dynamism and innovation.
We referenced the brand’s expressions, colors, and stories to bring its sounds to life.
ConocoPhillips also wanted a longer audio logo than usually requested. Their goal was to effectively convey their values in content, allowing for a more deliberate communication. Although the audio logo would make occasional appearances in outward-facing branding materials, the majority of the audio brand’s use was slated for internal purposes, granting us greater flexibility in terms of length than is typically allowed.
Extracting The Audio Logo
In creating the Audio Logo for ConocoPhillips we wanted to highlight the SPIRIT Values. As most of the SPIRIT Values couldn’t be directly transformed into sound in their original form, we broke down each value, collaborating with the ConocoPhillips team to identify key attributes that reflected each value and then seamlessly converting those attributes into sound. The result was a collection of attributes, born from the original six SPIRIT Values but representing them in new and auditory-relevant ways.
“As the SPIRIT Values couldn’t be directly transformed into sound in their original form, we delved into the SPIRIT values, seeking a way to translate them into sound.”
These were the main audio translations generated for each value:
Safety (Trustworthy & Stable):
We transformed the word into a sound that has consistent and calming tones, with a gentle and easily anticipated beginning.
People (Purposeful, Thoughtful & Responsive):
We turned the attribute into a sound that has a determined and clear progression, building up tension, and eventually resolving into a harmonious and clear outcome.
Integrity (Quietly Confident, Authentic & Expert):
Here, we’ve focused on conveying depth and substance. The composition carries a weighted feel, emphasized by a prominent low end. Layered elements have been woven into the sound, adding complexity and richness to the overall texture. The intentionality of the sound evokes a sense of solidity, reliability and a strong foundation.
Responsibility (Sustainable, Integrity & Realistic):
To convey a sense of responsibility through sound, we wanted to incorporate warm and familiar sounds that embody reliability and assurance, with soft and rounded textures in the audio, akin to a reassuring hum or a gentle melody.
Innovation (Transitioning, Multi-dimensional, Technological, Flowing & Explorative):
We embraced a dynamic and forward-thinking approach for innovation, leveraging subtle electronic instrumentation to evoke a sense of modernity and progression. We explored morphing capabilities, seamlessly transitioning from one sonic ‘place’ to another—symbolizing the transformative nature of innovation.
Teamwork (Familial Warmth, Empowering, Cooperative, Respectful & Inclusive):
In translating “teamwork” into sound, we’ve aimed for a communal feel, utilizing singable and recognizable elements that bring people together. Acoustic instruments play a key role here, providing a human and organic touch.
Let us dig a bit more into each of the key attributes and their auditory meaning.
As with Responsibility, to score high in this attribute, the sound has to not feel pushy, and not call for a feeling of risk. However, leaning too far into this attribute might cause a sound to feel dull and generic, hence precaution is advised.
In sound, this attribute expresses itself via utilizing elements that are stable in their voicing and have a soft attack. A confident, measured or decisive tone can suggest responsibility, whereas a hesitant, uncertain or unstable tone might suggest the opposite.
For the melody, we wanted something that was easy to pick up on and easy to remember. We drew inspiration from the syllables of the ConocoPhillips name, and from that we ended up with five distinct melody notes.
The notes themselves are moving in a sort of stepping motion towards what we experience as the home base of the chord, ending in a feeling that is safe and trustworthy while calling back to the ConocoPhillips brand in a “responsible” and non-pushy way. Once you learn that the notes sound out the brand name, it becomes even more sticky!
Being driven by and for people, it was important that the sound was purposeful. This means conveying a sense of clarity and determination, and implying that the sound or action is driven by a clear goal or objective.
In sound, this attribute can be expressed through the use of elements that are deliberate and precise, such as a rhythmic pattern that is consistent and structured, or a melody that is focused and intentional. A sound that suggests purposefulness may also include elements of emphasis and accentuation, conveying a sense of priority and importance. A sound that is too repetitive may become monotonous and lose its sense of purpose, while a sound that is too unpredictable or chaotic may lack direction and focus.
After an intro, the audio logo ultimately leads into a cinematic impact that is satisfying and confident, giving a very “Purposeful” feeling to the listener. This is done by having a very precise hit that emphasises a change and a new direction for ConocoPhillips. You only ever hear this sound once in the audio logo, making its purpose very distinct and important.
ConocoPhillips describes themselves as quietly confident, suggesting a sense of self-assurance and poise, without being loud or boastful. It implies a quiet strength and competence that comes from within.
To convey this attribute, the sound needs to be steady and consistent, yet not forceful or aggressive. It should create a sense of ease and comfort, while still demonstrating a sense of self-assuredness. In sound, this attribute is characterized by controlled and stable elements, with a measured tempo and moderate dynamics. A smooth, well-rounded sound with a balanced mix of frequencies can suggest confidence, while avoiding sharp or abrupt sounds that might come across as aggressive or overbearing. Overall, a sound that is “Quietly Confident” is one that is calm, composed and self-assured.
To instill the sense of being “Quietly Confident,” the audio logo starts out with a deep echoed sonar-like sound which gives a pleasant but strong pulse. This pulse feels steady and consistent which gives the audio logo tempo and the listener a framework to understand the sound around. The sound feels soft and warm, but combined with the clear direction it gives a feeling of confident integrity.
“the sound needs to be steady and consistent, yet not forceful or aggressive. It should create a sense of ease and comfort, while still demonstrating a sense of self-assuredness”
Responsibility is an attribute that encompasses qualities such as being inclusive, truthful and honest.
As with Safety, demonstrating proficiency in terms of this attribute means invoking a sense of security and reliability.
Innovation is an attribute that suggests a process of moving from one state, condition or phase to another, i.e., transitioning.
Besides this, our goal was to make the sound multi-dimensional, encompassing qualities such as innovativeness, depth and richness. It suggests that there are many layers and facets at play, and that they can be understood from multiple perspectives. This implies the potential for further discovery.
In sound, transition can be expressed through a dynamic range that is varied. It can incorporate elements that move from tension to release, as well as moments that shift between clarity and ambiguity, or vice versa. A sound that suggests transition may also include elements of movement, such as a gradual shift in pitch or tempo, or the use of sound effects that convey a sense of transformation. To effectively convey transition in sound, it’s important to strike a balance between stability and change. A sound that is too stable may fail to capture the sense of movement and transformation, while a sound that is too chaotic or unpredictable may be overwhelming and confusing.
The first element you hear in the audio logo is a harmony of notes, known as a chord, softly starting and then gradually intensifying with a feeling of suspension. This chord then morphs into something feeling much more like home with a confident and satisfying resolve. This morphing action highlights transition with its movement from one emotion to another, with the use of harmonic resolution.
In sound, multi-dimensionality can be expressed through the use of different timbres, textures and sonic elements. A rich and diverse sound palette, with many different layers and instruments, can create a sense of depth and complexity. Additionally, the use of spatial effects such as reverb and delay can also contribute to the feeling of multi-dimensionality by creating a sense of space and distance between sounds.
Overall, a multi-dimensional sound is one that invites exploration and discovery, and allows the listener to experience something new with each listen.
Encompassing qualities such as being welcoming, nurturing and supportive, teamwork suggests a form of familial warmth. This suggests a sense of closeness and connection with others, and a feeling of being part of a family.
In sound, this attribute expresses itself through the use of warm, rich tones, and a slower tempo. Elements such as strings, woodwinds and gentle percussion can contribute to the feeling of intimacy and emotional depth. Additionally, a calm and gentle tone of voice can enhance the sense of warmth and closeness. Overall, this layer suggests a sense of belonging, and a feeling of being embraced by a caring and supportive community.
The melody is played in a friendly, optimistic and warm tone, highlighting the “familial warmth.” As well as being a melody that is easy to remember and somewhat familiar, it is also a very intimate sound, which highlights the connection between employees at ConocoPhillips.
Here’s what Stian, the composer, had to say about his design of the audio logo;
“My thoughts behind the final audio identity is that it is confident yet understated, the rhythm of [the] melody perfectly suits the syllables of the brand name. It’s bright and friendly, yet has a strong and solid foundation. The melody is memorable. I’ve been dreaming about the melody for weeks now.”
Take a listen to the ConocoPhillips Audio Logo here:
“This carefully crafted audio identity bolsters ConocoPhillips’ standing as a Fortune 500 company, embodying an inviting and reliable presence.”
We also crafted a selection of brand tracks for ConocoPhillips, that could communicate different sides of their personality in different ways. Here is the music we created.
“Human” is the first brand track we crafted for ConocoPhillips, highlighting the understated confidence inherent in their audio logo. It is derived from the DNA of ConocoPhillips’ audio logo, incorporating both melodic and harmonic elements in a mostly acoustic instrumentation for the human feel.
While rooted in acoustic instrumentation, “Human” still strives to showcase ConocoPhillips’ contemporary essence while preserving trustworthy and authentic experience.
Take a listen to a snippet of “Human” here:
“Tech” is the second brand track for ConocoPhillips, emphasizing the brand’s technological facets. This composition again draws from the ConocoPhillips’ audio logo but employs a more synthetic and electronic instrumentation approach. Despite this, it maintains a blend of welcoming, human elements to remain rooted in the brand’s essence.
While the original audio logo leans towards an acoustic sound, the brand track aims to spotlight ConocoPhillips’ contemporary dimensions by integrating electronic bass kicks and rich snare hits, all the while preserving an acoustic essence reminiscent of the logo.
Take a listen to a snippet of “Tech” here:
“Epic” is the last brand track we crafted for ConocoPhillips, designed to evoke inspiration, energy and empowerment. This composition harnesses the essence of ConocoPhillips’ audio logo DNA, employing a grand symphonic instrumentation approach. Notably, it features a choir to emphasize a sense of familial warmth above all other elements.
Take a listen to a snippet of “Epic” here:
“This audio logo stands as a concise auditory representation of the brand, encapsulating its fundamental values and projecting a sense of trustworthiness and reliability.”
ConocoPhillips’ new audio identity, developed in collaboration with Futurebrand, encapsulates the essence of the company’s brand ethos: welcoming, amiable and confident yet subtly expressed, while rooted in a robust and strong foundation. The melody’s rhythm harmoniously intertwines with the brand’s syllables, fashioning a memorable and impactful sonic experience.
This audio logo stands as a concise auditory representation of the brand, encapsulating its fundamental values and projecting a sense of integrity and reliability. Complemented by brand tracks exuding optimism and approachability, it magnifies the brand’s persona, nurturing a sense of rapport with its audiences.
This carefully crafted audio identity bolsters ConocoPhillips’ standing as a Fortune 500 company, embodying an inviting and reliable presence. It emerges as an invaluable tool within the company’s communication arsenal, elevating brand recall and fostering deeper connections with stakeholders.
Stian added: “(…) it was exciting to go through the process of composing something that was going to ‘be’ them. The sound of ConocoPhillips. What an honor.”
Words from Partner
“It has been an incredible and seamless partnership collaborating with Sonic Minds on developing the audio sound for ConocoPhillips that tightly aligns with the new visual identity system. It was evident the Sonic Minds team wanted to look at ConocoPhillips from a holistic lens.
Additionally, the Sonic Minds team had a very structured and well thought out approach to developing a fitting, but yet unique sound for ConocoPhillips. The Sonic Minds team was very organized, patient, detailed-oriented, and intentional with each step of the journey.”
Rodrigo Palmieri & Samantha Wolfe, Futurebrand
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