SONIC
EXPERIENCE
DESIGN

for your brand, products & spaces.

BRAND

Strategy
Sonic logo
Voice brand
Style guides

Brands are experiencing an explosion of opportunities to build recognition and shape belief and behavior — from audio first social media, podcasts, apps, and voice assistants to products and spaces.

Define your brand sound. Tune your sonic logo, voice, and music for different purposes with sonic profiles. Keep all your agencies on track with your sonic guidelines.

And, when you write your sonic brief and choose voice talent and music for your next campaign — back your decisions with research. Change subjective interpretation into outcome-focused data.
To start building your sonic branding toolkit
get in touch.

PRODUCTS

Services
Voice / apps
Mobility / transport

The new sonic logos — mnemonics, interface sounds, and haptics are powerful memory triggers, shortcuts to the brain that motivate, help people learn, and shape behavior.

Create experiences people love with iconic sonic palettes. Help people navigate your products and services. Guide, reassure, excite, calm, celebrate. Get attention — Fast. And most importantly, know when to be heard and when not to interrupt.

Design for disability. When we build services and products that adapt to people's sensory, cognitive, and physical needs, we make a better experience for everyone.
Inspired to make the world accessible and easier to navigate for everyone? Say hello.

SPACES

Cities
Workplaces
Healthcare
Activations
Spatial & 3D sound

The sound and silence around us transform our perception, behavior, and well-being.

Design accessible, inclusive spaces. Activate spaces to increase participation and connection. Change what people think, feel, and do with interactive experiences that respond to their movements, data, and the environment.
Get in touch to create memories people love to share.

BRAND

SONIC BRANDING

National Australia Bank . Unifying the brand journey with sound.

PRODUCTS

ACCESSIBLE TELECONFERENCING

Designing digital & physical spaces that work for disabled people.

ACCESSIBLE DESIGN

Art Centre Melbourne . Make musical interfaces work for kids with disabilities.

SPACES

WORKPLACE INNOVATION / RESPONSIVE ENVIRONMENTS

The Academy @ NAB . Transforming architecture into an instrument of change.

EVENTS / ACTIVATION

Prada at the Sunglass Hut Summit . Interactive textile sound and light sculptures.

EXPERIENTIAL ENVIRONMENTS

Melbourne Museum Children's Gallery . Transporting kids to new worlds so they can explore their own.


BRAND

SONIC BRANDING

National Australia Bank
Sonic identity & guidelines

Unifying the brand journey.

National Australia Bank's (NAB) sonic guidelines set the framework for all future decisions about using sound, music, and voice with a cohesive sonic brand that builds long-term brand equity.
NAB's groundbreaking "breakup" campaign changed what people thought about NAB and how NAB saw itself.

This revitalization prompted a refocus of their positioning and identity. So NAB Brand reached out to me to help them articulate their sonic brand and show them how to best use their brand sound in their communication and experiences.

Services

Sonic brand strategy

Sonic brand workshops

Voice identity

Sonic identity

Sonic guidelines

Team.

NAB Brand

Clemenger BBDO

XXVI

Application

Television

Online

Voice assistants

On-hold

In-store

Events

Cinema

Get in touch to talk about building your sonic branding toolkit.

What NAB's brand team want to do.


How do we manage sound across such a complex brand?

NAB's brand team makes 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.

Making decisions

The guidelines need to make sense to experts and people who aren't confident in their musical expertise. Too many attributes and 'mood terms' overwhelm people and complicate decisions.

Explaining decisions

Everyone has a point of view when it comes to music. NAB Brand needed to know why certain music works in different situations and show they based decisions on reasoning, analysis, and purpose, not gut feel.

NAB's sonic identity


Being consistently ‘NAB’ doesn’t mean always sounding 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. And they need to deliver this in a way that always feels and sounds like NAB.

Brand analysis. Audits. Building sonic profiles for different use cases.

Matching the right sound to the right situation.

Not every situation needs every brand personality or voice trait dialed up to full volume. NAB doesn't emphasize the same brand personality traits and related musical attributes for a graduate event as they would when entertaining corporate partners.

KNOW WHAT FEELINGS, BELIEFS, AND BEHAVIOUR TO EVOKE AT DIFFERENT TOUCHPOINTS.

1

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 core functional and emotional benefits that NAB gives customers.
2

Workshops & audits

Workshops and touchpoint audits discovered clusters of personality and voice traits. NAB dials them up and down to suit three core messages and the types of campaigns and experiences NAB uses to communicate these values.
3

Energy & tone

I used these clusters as the foundation to decide where to use sonic attributes, energy, and tone.

Putting the business and its agencies on the same page.

Workshops with NAB Brand and Clemenger BBDO's creatives built a shared understanding of NAB’s brand sound and use cases.

The guidelines


Describe, choose & test your music.

3 simple choices.

Three practical and straightforward sonic profiles organize NAB's sophisticated brand, touchpoints, and customer needs into task-based uses.

Each profile explains the on-brand musical qualities that will achieve different outcomes and where to use them.

NAB's sonic brand.


play_circle_filled
pause_circle_filled
You're muted
volume_down
volume_up
volume_off
VOICE LOGO

Friendly, confident, supportive, knowledgeable


play_circle_filled
pause_circle_filled
You're muted
volume_down
volume_up
volume_off
VOICE IDENTITY

Friendly, straight up, and un-banklike.
Conveys expertise but in a non-authoritative way. NAB doesn't talk down to its customers. It works with them.
Get in touch to unify your sonic experience across your campaigns and touchpoints.

PRODUCTS

IN PROGRESS

ACCESSIBLE TELECONFERENCING

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health

Re-design technology, systems, and spaces so teleconferencing works for people with disability.

Boilover's unique approach to collaborating opened up the opportunities teleconferencing offers people with disability and exposed the deficiencies of systems and technology that stand in the way.
Forced into lockdown by Covid 19, Boilover Inclusive Performance Ensemble continued working and rehearsing online. I initiated research with them to find out what works and doesn't work in this new environment.

Services.

User research

Prototyping

Sound design

Interaction design

Team.

Carmen Maddison

Producer - Boilover Inclusive Performance Ensemble

Family / Carers

Boilover Performance Ensemble

What people want to do


Boilover members

Being online lets us share what it's like being in lockdown and support each other.
The group's a big part of people's identity and sense of self, so staying connected is essential.
We keep our skills up, keep active and keep a routine.
Screens make concentrating easier because there aren't all the distractions like in real life.
Going out can be stressful, so I like being online at home.
My adult son gets to be independent and on his own with his friends.
Family & carers

Our young adult children feel our stress. When they're happy hanging out online, my mental health improves and vice versa.
When everything's working, I get some time to myself.

What gets in people's way?


Accessible design.
A systems approach.

Observation, user journeys, and service mapping exposed the relationships between environments, organizational systems, technology, and information that make it harder for people to participate.
"For me, it's all about connection. Finding a connection with people and showing them I'm excited about what they're doing in a way that doesn't mess up the software and sound."
Disability support worker.

Intersecting systems affect how things get done, costs, relationships, and success.

Accessibility means people — know how to change their environment, what tools solve their problems, and can easily find the accessibility functions they need.

Solutions


Building knowledge & problem awareness.

"It'd be amazing if people didn't have to go through the trial and error we went through? Like, some sort of guide."
Parent.

The accessible conferencing toolkit.

The Accessible, Accessible toolkit is an online resource. People living with disabilities, carers, and support workers can discover tools and methods to improve telecommunication experiences in different situations—built by the community for the community.

  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
I can't understand what people are saying.
People can't hear me.
Communicate non-verbally.
Streamlining meetings and reminders.
Things to look out for & questions to ask to make sure everything's working fine for people.
Identify technology needs with these questions.
Can't find Accessibility settings for Zoom, Teams, Google, Facetime?
Things to look out for & questions to ask to make sure everything's working fine for people.
Hear better.
When I move around the room, people can't see me.
Setting up spaces to reduce cognitive load.
Background noise interferes with my app.

UX WRITING

Describe situations and problems that people need to solve. Terms like cognitive, hearing, vision, and mobility aren't descriptive.

REFINE LANGUAGE

Refining UX writing and language: Collect search terms people use on this resource.

Build categories & descriptions from the end users' mental models and the language they use.

Clearer conversations.

Audio spotlight.

Let people choose who they want to hear better in group conversations.

Spatial audio.

Improve clarity and reduce cognitive load during multi-person conversations.

Use audio mnemonics to tell people you aren't coping.

In situations where there's lots of excitement and talking, verbal instructions add noise and cognitive load.

play_circle_filled
pause_circle_filled
Hey everyone
volume_down
volume_up
volume_off
AUDIO #1 — "Hey everyone"
AUDIO #1
Melodic shape based on a siren, gently drawing attention.
There is enough space between repeats not to be alarming.
Contains a range of frequencies for people who hear a particular frequency range.
Gently becomes dissonant to elevate urgency.
play_circle_filled
pause_circle_filled
You're muted
volume_down
volume_up
volume_off
AUDIO #2 — "You're muted"
play_circle_filled
pause_circle_filled
You've Been Un-muted
volume_down
volume_up
volume_off
AUDIO #3 — "You've been un-muted"
AUDIO #2 and #3
Audio mnemonics, symbols, and haptics ensure users are aware of changed software states such as being unmuted or when someone has remote control of their device.

Augmenting non-verbal communication.

Translate gestures into expressive audio emojis.

People who are non-verbal often use gestures like thumbs up or down to communicate.

However, this binary YES / NO approach doesn't express the emotional intent and nuance expressed through tone of voice and body language.

How it works

Sounds provide feedback to confirm the person's intent and underlying feelings have been communicated.

Audio emojis restore the tonal indicators of feeling and intent found in speech.

The nuances generated by gesture and audio variations of "yes" or "no" encourage clarification.

This builds a deeper understanding of the intent behind 'words' and counters confirmation bias created by closed questions and the binary responses they promote.

Next steps


It takes a village.

This data gives disability organizations the evidence to demand more support and resources.

It shows governments, tech, disability organizations, and business what they need to change so disabled people can effortlessly navigate the challenges of teleconferencing.
Get in touch for a deep dive into this data and our roadmap.

ACCESSIBLE DESIGN

Art Centre Melbourne
Accessible Music Program

Make musical interfaces work for kids with disabilities.

Music therapists had a sense that their equipment, while engaging, limited kids' creative potential in the Accessible Music Program.

They approached me to test this and find out what their interfaces and tools need for kids who're disabled to express themselves fully.
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 disabled kids can participate fully in the program.

Services.

UX research

Design & Prototyping

Sound design

Team.

ACM - Music therapists

Dyani Kelly

Maker

Andrew Cherry

Arduino programming

User research


Understanding emotion, motivation & mental models.

I wanted to understand the emotional drivers that motivate them to use products. What do they expect and want to accomplish from different tools? What feelings do the instruments and sounds generate? What is it about them that does this?

Alex is non-verbal; she doesn't use words to communicate.

She doesn't know what to do when she's shown a microphone. Its color and shape make 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.
Meet Joshua – a curious 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 because he plays very lightly. This means he can't be part of the group.
Natalie loves being independent and trying new things.

She has a small range of movement.

It's hard for her to do what she wants because many tools made for kids with disabilities assume everyone makes large movements. And rely on someone being there to help.
Chloe is a bright, energetic 8-year-old. She's a visual learner who loves creating music.

Like many children, she loves expressing herself through movement.

Many accessible instruments can't translate movement into meaningful music.
We're still making assumptions about disability that lead to designs that don't work and reinforce stereotypes that disability limits creativity.
1

Gesture

People use movement and gesture in personal, nuanced, and sophisticated ways, including big and small presses, taps, thumps, slides, and scratches.
2

Gesture recognition

Many tools won't recognize and translate these different gestures into meaningful, expressive music.
3

Adaptable interfaces

Changing an instrument or interface's position improves accessibility, interaction, and expression. However, many tools can't be positioned where they're the most comfortable and accessible.
4

Sensory feedback

Sophisticated devices like iPads don't give enough tactile and sensory feedback, making them hard to use and explore. 

Uncovering untapped gestures, interaction & abilities.

Many of the kids have multiple disabilities. Instead of assuming what their disability was, I focussed on understanding behavior, motivation, and what hindered or helped achieve their goals.

Observing music therapy sessions showed us how the children instinctually used interfaces and instruments. And, crucially, the different techniques they'd try to make interfaces work for them.

How people learn.

The kids showed us the nuanced, versatile ways they play and react to different forms, surfaces, materials, and sounds. And how they learn through tactile, visual, and auditory feedback.

The way people respond to traditional instruments' sonic and material properties tells us how to design expressive music interfaces.

Design . Prototype . Test


Don't change people. Adapt.

Designs have to serve the kids' emotional needs. Their motivation. Their curiosity. Their humor. The things kids love to do.

Design guidelines.

1

Adaptive

The design should adapt to physical & sensory needs.
2

Fun

Instruments should be fun and easy for parents and carers to manipulate so they can help kids use them.
3

Instructive

Shape and surfaces should be instructive and suggest affordance.
4

Translate intent

The software should scale so sonic, and sensory responses reflect the user's intent.
5

Stories

Sounds should be rich, have character, and tell a story.
6

Sonic affordance

Sounds should reflect the interface's mental model, gestures, and affordance.
Prototype sketches and designs.

Results


Kids can teach us how to design better.

Results — Prototypes and user testing.

Insights & opportunities.


To help people learn what an interface does, use distinct gestures that create noticeable changes in sound.

Changes in frequency and pitch can be hard to recognize, so use obvious changes in rhythm and timbre instead.


Use shape, size, and texture/tactility to encourage/instruct behavior 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.

Use open design and code so other 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 your interface's sensitivity and sensory responses scalable to suit preferences and abilities.


Parents show their kids how to use things.

Tools like microphones and public performances like dancing can be intimidating. So think about making them fun and approachable for the big kids too.


Music therapists, disability workers, and parents are the interface.

They need to easily manipulate and position your tools so that their kids can use them.

Let's talk about asking disabled users what'll make your products useful. Discovering the new ways people use gesture, movement, and voice to get things done. And using sound and interaction to build products that everyone can use. Equally.

SPACES

RESPONSIVE SPACES

National Australia Bank
The Academy at NAB

Architecture as an instrument of change.

The responsive sound architecture at NAB's corporate university transforms the building into a massive interactive instrument.

Alive, energetic, and playful, it transports staff from conventional to fearless out-of-the-box thinking.

Services.

Project management

Concept design

Sound design

Technical design

Remote work

Spatial audio

Team.

NAB culture

Rumblefish

BVN Architecture

Dr. Garth Paine

Interaction & Max/MSP

Nigel Derricks

Additional mixing

Design


Make space for new ways of thinking.

The soundtrack uses the building's acoustics to shape sounds and prevent 'challenging sounds' from floating up into the open-plan offices above.

Experiences


Foster play & innovation.

Everyone's welcome

Energy sensing cameras create a tunnel of sound that celebrates people entering The Academy and gets them ready for new ways of thinking.

Thoughts

The feedback microphone is a quick and easy way for people to record their thoughts and opinions, which we can re-compose into the evolving sound installation.

Dialling up the right mood

Trainers 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.

Fun & play

The transmogriphic microphone is about having fun, encouraging people to play, and breaking the ice. The microphone transforms voice and re-constitutes words in random ways — much to everyone's surprise and delight.

The Atrium's interactive spatial soundtrack.

Transforming minds.

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 architecture.

LISTEN
Atrium soundtrack
play_circle_filled
pause_circle_filled
on
volume_down
volume_up
volume_off

The 32 speaker interactive soundtrack is composed in real-time by staff triggering sensors as they walk through the space.

Get in touch to talk about shifting hearts and minds.

EVENT & BRAND ACTIVATION

Interactive textile sound & light sculptures

Squeeze Me Lightly.™

Great clothing designers know that the feel of textiles is as important as how they look.

"Squeeze Me Lightly" was formed from this insight. The desire to make human, approachable, non-technical experiences where people create together and connect with brands through the senses. Where the sensory, tactile, interactive experience leaves lasting memories.

Where Lovers Lie Concept Store

The Night Market

Prada at the Sunglass Hut Summit

Get in touch to talk about capturing hearts and minds.
Built on extensive research into child-led play and learning, the Camo Disco surrounds kids with mirrored walls, projections, and sound.

It ignites their imagination transporting them to new worlds where they explore, create stories, and transform into new shapes and beings.

Services.

Testing & research

Story development

Sound design

Composition

Spatial audio

Team.

Museum exhibitions

Museum digital media systems dept

Museum production

Nigel Derricks

Additional mixing

Guiding principles


Research. Test. Score.


VISUAL SCORES

Visual scores helped producers understand the story and sound design in the concept design stage.

Each cue responds to research to generate behavioral and learning outcomes.

The soundtracks


About


I work at the intersection of social science, systems thinking, interaction, and sound. Bringing deep insight into people's feelings, beliefs, and behavior — and how to affect them.

Sound changes everything™
I get to work with incredible people.
Here are some of the nice things they've said.

"Hey Marcel, it looks and IS amazing, everyone loves it!!''

Jacelyn Hawkins. Flock Agency.

Squeeze Me Lightly for Prada at the Sunglass Hut Summit.

"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."

Wendy O'Neil. Art Centre, Melbourne.

Sound expression. Designing accessible music interfaces for people with disability.

"Marcel was indispensable to us and the success of the project, with that rare combination of practical know-how, a hard-work ethic, and inspired creative vision.''

Brian Rupp. Brand Timbre & Rumblefish. [USA]

The Academy @ NAB

Speaking & workshops

World Music Therapy Congress

Sound Design — Designing Interactive Music Interfaces for Disabilities

Microsoft — The Garage

Curiosity, Empathy & Meaningfulness in Human Centred Sound Design Workshop

National Australia Bank — Clemenger BBDO

NAB Brand Identity workshops

Cato Brand Partners

Holistic Sonic Branding

BVN Architecture

Interactive spatial sound design in built environments

Latrobe University

Guest lecturer - Sonic Branding

RMIT University — College of Design and Social Context. School of Fashion & Textiles

Designers on the extreme guest series

Press

Brandchannel.com

India Turns Up the Volume on Sonic Branding — Khicha, Preethi.

The Economic Times

Surround Sound: Advertisers Play Right Notes To Woo Customers

AV Magazine

Sonic Branding for the NAB

LSN: Global

Synaesthetic selling

The Future Lab Trend Briefing

The Tomorrow Store

Ragtrader

Music and Fashion Combine

Ragtrader

The New Rules

Australian Creative

The Amber Theatre joins forces with Where Lovers Lie in a unique fashion creation

The Age

Zany Stunts with the office cutie — Christofis, Lee

Popular Music as Promotion: Music and Branding in the Digital Age

Leslie M. Meier

Special World: for special education teachers, therapists, and schools everywhere

Note Perfect

Awards

High commendation

World Architecture Festival. Interior and Fitout. 2010

Winner

Council of Educational Facilities Planners Victorian Chapter. Award for Education Initiative. 2010

Commendation

Interior Design Awards. Corporate Design. 2010

Commendation

Council of Educational Facilities Planners. Australasia Chapter Educational Facilities Awards. ‘Education Initiative/Design Solution for an Innovative Program’. 2010

Winner

Permanent Exhibition or Gallery Fitout. MAGNA. 2017

Winner

Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Large Museums. 2017

Best in category

Premiers Design Awards. Communications design. 2017

Get in touch


I've relocated to America.

Not in America? No worries.
Let's talk about working together remotely.