Open UniversiteitThe Open Universiteit is a frontrunner in the field of online education. An progressive brand in a traditional sector. Following their visual brand, the brand also decided to develop a musical identity. In doing so, they did not shy away from experimentation.
“A brand is more than what you see, it is more than a visual representation of your identity.”Marco Koolen, Head of Marketing and Communication Open Universiteit
Why is the Open Universiteit investing in a musical identity?
A brand is more than what you see, it is more than a visual representation of your identity. Sound is extremely important and – according to some – determines more than 60% of the experience in a video or other audiovisual communication. The Open University creates a lot of communication, including videos for students and the outside world, radio commercials, online webinars and academic celebrations. In that case, you also need to have an eye and ear for the musical interpretation of your identity.
How did you experience the development process of your musical identity?
It was a thorough and open process. Music is emotion and it took some time before the entire team was on the same musical page. But it worked out pretty well. Details are very important here, to which TAMBR has responded very well during the process. The fact that you’re linked to a composer works very well, you’re really doing it together. As a result, we ended up with a track that is supported by the entire organisation.
“The fact that you’re linked to a composer works very well, you’re really doing it together.”
How is your brand-personality translated into music?
The Open Universiteit is for people who are looking for change. We challenge the status quo and that includes sounding a bit different. At a time when stock music predominates, it was time for us to shake up our industry. Our sound is therefore quite brutal. It contains elements reminiscent of The Prodigy and Propellerheads, supplemented with an academic layer in the form of a real string quartet. We sound rougher than you would expect from a university and that suits us.
Open Universiteit brand anthem
How is your musical identity expressed?
The sound we have developed is the sound of the Open Universiteit. Period. This means that our musical identity is reflected in all our expressions. From our callcentre to promotional videos and from radio-commercials to our annual celebration, the Dies Natalis. Our musical identity is interwoven through all of our communication. We have secured this with the support of our Executive Board. But because everyone loves the track, support actually came naturally.
“What has been done very well by TAMBR is that we have access to several versions that are completely modular in structure.”
What has been done very well by TAMBR is that we have access to several versions that are completely modular in structure. This allows us to bring variety in the composition of the track so that it fits for every medium and format. By the way, this is just the first track from our album. We aim to develop even more compositions in order to keep surprising our audience. Without losing recognisability, of course.
What advice would you give brands that want to get started with this?
Think beyond video productions. Music is extremely important for multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. Also think of short UX sounds linked to a user’s actions. How does opening your app or notification sound? The intro to your podcast? What voice do you use and what kind of music goes with it? Or do you turn it around and look for a new voice that enhances the concept of your music? Finally, a practical tip: create a Spotify playlist with your team that can serve as a direction for your musical identity. Music is emotion. But this way you’ll get your team on the same page!
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