At PHMG, we partner with businesses across the globe to capture their unique brand identity in sound. Our Heads of Creative play a huge part in bringing this sound to life, and Steve Wilk is just one member of this talented team. With more than 20 years’ experience in the music industry, he’s worked with the likes of Rhianna, Jay Sean and Nicki Minaj, composed for hit film and TV shows, and developed expertise as a playback engineer for leading artists. With this unique insight, he works to bring the sound of so many different companies to life.
Every day, me and my fellow Heads of Creative work with clients across the globe to translate their company personality into music, voice and script. With the music, the main aim is to connect with listeners and really tell a story – so it’s vital that we gain an in-depth understanding of the company, their customers, and all the elements of their existing visual identity. To do this effectively, it’s essential that we always stay curious. We look for inspiration at every turn – from clients, from colleagues, from other staff members… anyone can have a great nugget of information. And beyond this, we’re always listening – searching for new music, sparking fresh ideas, and listening with a different ear.
It’s all about taking a fresh look at a company through the musical lens.
We start the project with a completely blank canvas – and guide our clients by encouraging them to be creative. This all happens within an interactive workshop, where it’s all about taking a fresh look at their company through the musical lens. This means considering their personal taste, what their customers listen to, the mood they want to create, and the brand personality – along with how they want to be portrayed. They could be a small company who wants to appear bigger, or a larger business wanting to create a more personal or intimate connection. After exploring all of this, we reach a real ‘aha’ moment – where we understand the customer, and they feel this understanding too. This is the spark we both need, and from here, the ideas start to flow.
After the Workshop, we bring all the ideas we had together into a brief – and go about translating the different attributes of the brand musically. There are endless ways to approach this, and certain choices in tempo, genre, instruments and production can all indicate different personality traits. For example, we can create a feeling of growth and customer partnership by starting a track with one instrument for an intimate feel, then extending this by adding an additional instrument every few bars. By the time we reach the chorus, the track has fully bloomed to showcase the expansion. To create an outdoorsy, honest and earthy feel, we could use acoustic instruments – adding a sense of warmth and connection. Or if a company wants to inspire and motivate their clients, we could use ascending chord progressions for an uplifting style. These musical decisions are all based on the details we put into the brief, so it’s a vital stage in the creative process. And armed with this information, our A-list Composers craft the Brand-Sound-Track™ that’ll represent the real heart and soul of a company.
Brand-SoundTM: in practice
Client: Asko – a leading Swedish manufacturer of handmade appliances
Identity: Modern, Premium, Confident, Warm, Swedish Heritage
The Swedish heritage and community was incredibly important to Asko, and they wanted a piece that captured the quirky spirit and ingenuity of their people – as well as the handmade, unique and high-quality aspects of their product. To do this, we drew on a host of musical influences – classical work from the likes of Vivaldi and Bach; the creative and fun big beats of Mura Masa and Apple ads; and warm, modern and interesting synths, similar in style to electronic artist Flume.
The result was a piece with humble confidence and a creative beat. Incorporating half-time verses and upbeat choruses, it created an interesting, calming sound designed to appeal to their mature customer base. And alongside this, is a sonic logo that incorporates a hint of the traditional Swedish flute, along with synths and strings that reflect their modernity and heritage.
As Composers and Heads of Creative, our core aim is to tell a client’s story. This is just a glimpse into our innovative approach, but however we go about it, the end result is the same: a track that connects with listeners in the most emotive way.