101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

BRAND EDITION

Ivy Ross

Vice President of Design for all Hardware Products at Google

 

If you don’t have confidence in yourself to figure out what that sonic watermark is, it’s much easier to grab something that will make you popular like a hit tune or a pop star, but it doesn’t last over time because culture changes.


 
Ivy Ross,  Vice President of Design for all Hardware Products, Google.

 

With over 30 years of comprehensive experience, Ivy Ross is the current Vice President, Head of Design for all Hardware Products at Google. Ms Ross has held various managerial positions in renowned Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries, including, retail, direct mail, and manufacturing. Some of the achievements under her belt include; being selected to represent the new face of leadership by Fast Co. Magazine and appearing in a top 25 innovative leaders list, a Business Week magazine publication.

Uli Reese: Can you explain the rise of sonic and audio in branding in the last few years?

Ivy Ross:
I’ve studied sound for about 30 years, so I know the importance of it. In part, the rise is because it’s time has come. I think in some ways, we have suppressed it  and focused more on visuals. But we are at a point as a society where we must learn to listen more deeply .When we’re in the womb we are literally swimming  in a sonic bath, as liquid amplifies sound. We are hearing the symphony of our mother’s body. I think that is why sound is so emotional for us as it was all around us during  some of our most formative days. We’ve become a bit flatlined since the Industrial Revolution, more transactional vs  transformational. There has been a suppression of the sensory part of us for a while. I believe that we are just understanding how critical alivening the senses are, to our health and well being. I believe we are going to continue to accept more and more the healing power of sound . Everything is vibration . We are vibrational beings in resonance with sound.

Reese: Can you expand upon that in terms of sound and how it might affect the generations coming behind us?


Ivy:
We’re finding more and more that the power of sound is also in the space between the notes. As a metaphor, it will be important to find a new rhythm to our lives and make sure to take pause every so often. Especially now with Covid, these are interesting times. A lot of people I know are listening to more podcasts, more audio as a relief to being on visual zoom meetings all the time. Brands need to be very thoughtful and intentional going forward as to how and when they engage our senses.

Reese: The design of Google hardware was the opposite of what I thought it would be and it made me think that sonic logos are also very dominant but that this is not how you build a brand anymore…

Ivy: I think the word is harmonic. One needs to find the unique subtle tone of the brand that is in resonance with the people it serves. 

“You need to know what you want your brand to stand for, and what its fundamental notes are.”

Reese: Why have brands been so arbitrary in their sonic behavior? They associate with a Rockstar in taking what I call a Sonic Selfie and hope for a credibility transfer.

Ivy: If you don’t have confidence in yourself to figure out what that sonic watermark is, it’s much easier to grab something that will make you popular like a hit tune or a pop star. It might work in the short term, but it doesn’t last over time because culture changes and that pop star might go away but you want your brand to last. You need to know what you want your brand to stand for, and what its fundamental notes are. What I admire about the James Bond brand is that when they first created the series, they clearly knew the energy of what they wanted the franchise to represent. They were fearless in creating something that could be their own for years to come. They also understood how sound and emotions are connected.

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