The success of their "breakup" campaign changed what people thought about NAB, and how NAB saw themselves. This revitalisation of how people saw the brand prompted a refocussing of their positioning and identity. So NAB Brand reached out to me to help them understand their sonic brand and show them how to best use sound in their communication and experiences.
Music isn't a universal language. NAB's brand team had to be able to explain how to use music to multiple levels of staff as well as music suppliers and creative and digital agencies, in a common language that everyone could understand.
The sonic guidelines describe NAB's sonic brand, guiding NAB's brand team, agencies and staff on how to use sound with NAB's wide-ranging products, audiences and experiences.
Sonic brand strategy
Sonic brand evaluation workshops
Discovery & user research
Understanding the business.
How do we manage sound across such a complex brand?
NAB's brand team has to make sure music says and does the right thing for a wide variety of touchpoints, campaigns and products. These range from brand campaigns and financial advice to corporate responsibility. They speak to a broad audience, including retail, business and institutional customers.
We have to be able to explain our decisions.
When it comes to music, everyone has a point of view. So NAB Brand needed to know why certain music works in different situations, and be able to show that they based decisions on reasoning, analysis and purpose, not gut feel.
We shouldn't need a degree in musicology to understand.
The guidelines need to make sense to experts as well as people who aren't confident in their musical expertise. Too many attributes and 'mood terms' would overwhelm people and complicate decisions.
NAB's sonic identity
Being consistently ‘NAB’ doesn’t mean they have to always sound the same.
Being such a large business, NAB expresses itself differently depending on where they're speaking, who they're talking to, and what they want to achieve. At the same time, they still need to deliver this in a way that feels and sounds like NAB.
Brand analysis. Audits. Building sonic profiles for different use cases.
Matching the right sound to the right situation.
While NAB wanted flexibility, they also needed a coherent identity and musical expression that's grounded in the communication and experiences they use every day. Not every situation needs every brand personality or voice trait dialled up to full volume. NAB wouldn't use the same voice and personality for a graduate event as they would entertaining corporate partners.
Defining the feelings, beliefs and behaviour to evoke in different touchpoints and environments.
States of mind
I identified the three states of mind NAB needs to evoke with sound, voice and music from NAB's customer insights and brand collateral. The three core functional and emotional benefits that NAB gives customers.
Workshops & audits
Through workshops and touchpoint audits, we discovered the clusters of personality and voice traits that NAB dialled up and down to suit these three core messages. As well as the types of campaigns and experiences that NAB uses to achieve this.
Energy & tone
I used these clusters as the foundation for deciding together with NAB brand, where to use particular sonic attributes, and their energy and tone.
Everyone on the same page
How to choose, test & approve music. The right way.
3 simple choices.
Three practical and straightforward sonic profiles organise NAB's sophisticated brand, touchpoints and customer needs into task-based uses. Each explains the musical qualities that will achieve different outcomes and where to use them.
Sonic UX & UI
Music lets kids with disabilities shine and connect. Through music, we see their unique abilities - their talent. And our world opens up.
Music therapists had a sense that their equipment, while engaging, was limiting the creative potential of the kids in the Accessible Music Program.
They approached me to test this and find out what the kids needed from interfaces and equipment so that they could express themselves fully.
'Disability' is driving innovation at The Art Centre, inspiring new approaches and tools for creativity, interaction and music-making.
The research revealed the nuanced and varied ways kids express themselves through gesture, movement and voice. These insights generated new ways to combine sound, light, haptics, movement, and surfaces, so kids of all abilities can participate fully in programs.
World Congress of Music Therapy (Tsukuba, Japan 2017)
We presented our work and how to use human-centred design and evidence-based methods, at the World Congress of Music Therapy (Tsukuba, Japan 2017)
Design & prototyping
ACM - Music therapists
Andrew CherryArduino programming
Discovery & user research
We often make assumptions about people with disability. This leads to designs that don't meet their needs and even reinforce stereotypes and the idea that disability limits creativity.
Many of the kids have multiple disabilities. Instead of assuming what their disability was, I focussed on understanding behaviour, motivation, and what hindered and what helped them achieve their goals.
I observed sessions across cognitive, developmental, and physical disability with their current digital and traditional tools and instruments.
Results — Observing users and music therapy sessions.
I wanted to know why "Josh" kept running over and touching the big pole in the middle of the room. It's because he loves its texture. He really loves texture.
When we know what satisfies their curiosity, their emotional needs and their personalities, we can design better tools.
It's hard for a lot of these kids to describe what they want and why. So I reached out to the people who know them best — their parents, teachers and disability workers.
I wanted to understand the emotional drivers that motivate them to use products. What do they expect from different tools and what do they want to accomplish with them. What feelings do the instruments and sounds generate? What is it about them that does this?
We want to
Have permission to be loud and boisterous, and a little naughty. Have an impact. Be part of a group.
Make people laugh Feel important and powerful. Hear our own voice. Explore vocal sounds.
Explore and be creative. Have control and influence. Be autonomous
Be allowed to be ourselves. Express ourselves with our body.
What's stopping us
Light touch isn't heard Not enough visual and sensory feedback or stimulation.
Shape & colour isn't engaging or instructional. Needs directional input to work.
Assumed gross motor skills. Tools don’t adapt to physical needs. Lack of sensitivity to small gestures.
Limited opportunity to create music with our bodies. Instruments and sounds don’t reflect movement.
Meet Joshua – an inquisitive and energetic 4-year old who has autism.
He loves exploring things that have texture. And quickly loses interest if he doesn't get enough sensory feedback.
Josh struggles to produce sounds from instruments such as drums because he plays very lightly. This means he can't get to experience having an impact and being part of the group.
Alex is non-verbal, she doesn’t use words to communicate.
When she’s shown a microphone she doesn’t know what do. Its colour and shape makes it look like a stick or ice cream, so she often bites and licks it.
Her dad finds it hard to show her what to do because microphones can be intimidating.
Natalie's an adventurous girl who loves being independent and trying new things.
She has a very limited range of movement.
It's hard for her to achieve what she wants because most tools, even those made for kids with disabilities, assume everyone makes large movements. They also usually rely on someone having to help.
Chloe is a bright, energetic 8 year old. She’s a visual learner and loves creating and listening to music.
Like many children, she loves expressing herself through movement.
Many accessible instruments aren’t designed to harness and translate nuanced movement into expressive music.
Design & prototypes
Making interfaces adapt to people. Not the other way around.
My starting point for designing concepts and prototypes was that they should realise what we discovered in the mental model workshops. The designs had to serve the kids' emotional needs. Their motivation. Their curiosity. Their humour. The things that kids love to do.
Design criteria: Helping the kids achieve their goals.
The design should conform to physical & sensory needs.
Designs should be instructive and suggest affordance.
Sound should be rich, have character and tell a story.
Instruments should be fun and easy for parents, carers to manipulate so they help the kids use them.
The software should scale so sonic and sensory responses reflect the user's intent.
Sound should reflect the interfaces mental model and 'match' gesture & affordance.
Prototype sketches and designs.
Building better interfaces
Kids are teaching us how to design better.
Our trials focussed on the "Magic Ribbon Stick", which allowed me to test a broad range of design solutions and hypotheses.
Results — Prototypes and user testing.
Insights & opportunities
To help people learn what an interface does, use distinct gestures that create obvious changes in sound.
Changes in frequency and pitch can be hard to recognise, so use large changes in rhythm and timbre instead.
Use shape, size and texture/tactility to encourage/instruct behaviour and gestures.
Think about the expectations that an object's history creates - for example, drums and ribbons- and how this can guide what people think they can do with it.
Build a platform, not just a product.
Make your design and code open so that other smart people can modify and iterate your designs to suit the preference of the people they're working with.
Think about the nuances of disability. For example, some people can only hear specific frequencies.
Make the sensitivity and multi-sensory responses of your interface scalable to suit preferences and ability.
Parents show their kids how to use things.
Tools like microphones and public performances like dancing can be intimidating. So think about how you can make them fun and approachable for the big kids too.
Music therapists, disability workers and parents are the interface.
They need to be able to easily manipulate and position your tools so that their kids can use them.
The responsive sound architecture at NAB’s corporate university transforms the building into a massive interactive musical instrument. It’s alive, energetic and playful, carrying staff from conventional to fearless, out of the box thinking.
Cross-functional & discipline collaboration
Garth PaineMax/MSP programming
High Commendation. World Architecture. Interiors and fitout category. 2010
High Commendation. IDA Corporate Design. 2010
Commendation. CEFPI Australasia Regional Facilities Awards. Education Initiative/Design solution for an innovative programme. 2010
Fostering play and innovation at NAB's Academy.
Energy sensing cameras create a tunnel of sound that celebrates people entering The Academy and gets them ready for new ways of thinking.
River of words
New meanings are created by collisions of ideas as staff trigger sensors to create a soundtrack composed entirely from their voices.
Dialling up the right mood
Trainers can use curated playlists to put people in the right frame of mind. Because sometimes you want to stimulate ideas, and other times you want to focus and calm the mind.
The River of Words & Sonic Surprises
Shifting creativity with avant-garde and interactive sound.
"....created by using the heart and soul of The Academy – the interaction between the voices of its people and the naturally occurring resonances of the building's physical and architectural attributes."
Making space for new ways of thinking.
Soundtracks used the building's construction and acoustics to shape sounds and prevent 'challenging sounds' from floating up into the open-plan offices above.
The Night Market
Prada at the Sunglass Hut Summit
Where Lovers Lie Concept Store
LSN: Global - Synaesthetic selling The Future Lab Trend Briefing: The Tomorrow Store
Music & sound design
The Camo Disco surrounds kids with mirrored walls, projections and sound. It ignites their imagination, transporting them to new worlds. Where they can explore, create their own stories, and transform into new shapes and beings.
Surround sound mix
Melbourne Museum Exhibitions
Winner. Permanent Exhibition or Gallery Fitout. MAGNA. 2017
Best in category. Communications design. Premiers Design Awards. 2017
Winner. Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Large Museums. 2017
Ebb and flow
Testing showed different kids responded to active and restful states. So the piece ebbed and flowed over 20 minutes, to create space for different personalities, introverts and extroverts to be involved.
Visual scores helped the producers understand the story and what it would sound like before I started composing.
I get to work with incredible people for great brands. Here are some of the nice things they've said.
'Hey Marcel, it looks and IS amazing everyone loves it!! Thanks so much!!'
'Not only did Marcel break down what was working and not working in terms of interfaces, and the responsiveness and character of sounds, he explored how they hindered or helped them achieve their goals'.