VG’s famous logo becomes a sound — complete with a hidden homage

By Camilla Brække

VGTV

Oslo, Norway

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Audio is among 2021’s hottest trends in media, according to Carat, and the sound universe will be even more important in the future. We are preparing the Verden Gang (VG) brand for this and have been working on a sound logo project for some months.

The newspaper VG was founded in 1945. For many years, the sound of a newspaper slap was the closest thing to an audio logo we’ve had.

As a modern multi-media house, we had to turn it up a notch. Content on multiple platforms — such as podcasts, smart speakers, and video — have become an important part of our content offerings.

Much of our audio content lacks sender identity. The last year we have had a heavy focus on podcasts in VG, which makes it extra important it is clear VG is the sender of the content.

The brand identity’s foundation

VG is one of the strongest brands in Norway and is known to approximately 88% of the population. Our visual logo is kind of famous — some would even call it iconic. It’s simple, recognisable, and has not been changed drastically in 69 years.

The knowledge of the VG brand is high in Norway. The strong brand identity is clearly connected to our well-known visual logo. But when it comes to sound, VG has been lacking a holistic identity reflecting our brand and all it entails, said Brede Finne, creative commercial producer at VG and head of the sound logo project.

Our logo is the foundation of our brand identity. It separates us from competition and makes us recognisable. To put it bluntly, it is comparable to Charlie Chaplin’s mustache, bowler hat, and cane; he is nearly unrecognisable without it.

Turning a famous logo into a sound

Historically, the VG logo has been one of our most protected brand assets. Being consistent and strict when it comes to logo usage is one of the success criteria of building a strong brand. When creating our sonic brand, it was important that it matched our visual logo, becoming a natural part of VGs brand assets, Finne said.

Our visual logo is “VG” spelled with white capital letters in a box with our red brand colour. Breaking news is at the core of VG, and at the same time we provide a huge variety of stories, such as entertainment.

Each of the tones in the VG sonic logo is distinct and significant.
Each of the tones in the VG sonic logo is distinct and significant.

Our mission was to transition VG’s identity into the modern era. We had to turn this immensely recognisable “VG” logo and strong brand into a sound. How on earth do you do that?

Our highly competent and skilled in-house sound engineer, Ronny Furevik, was up to the task. He is a technical producer for VGTV and audio specialist, sound designing documentaries and long-form content. With Pro Tools, field recordings, synths, and the Soundly database, he has developed a lot of sound effects and music for VG.

High ambitions and listening to the world’s best sonic brands

We wanted the new sound of our brand to be short, cool, modern, and recognisable, without being annoying nor disturbing. It was crucial to develop a sound that was attention-grabbing without causing annoyance or boredom after listening to it multiple times.

We started by listening to some of the world’s best sonic brands for inspiration. Among the top 10 is Netflix’s famous “ta-dum” — a short, cool, distinct, and recognisable sound that plays alongside the Netflix logo.

After listening to a lot of different audio logos, we took a best-practices approach. We wanted something along the lines of Netflix and HBO — more of “neutral” sound than a jingle. But, of course, we had to add the VG touch to it and find the right balance so it would be a good fit for both breaking news and entertainment.

The process of developing VG’s sonic identity has been an inspiring process. Trying to communicate VG’s identity through sound has been challenging, since our sonic identity has to fit both weddings and funerals. The sound could not be too dramatic nor too cozy, Furevik said.

The sound of VG

Our mission was to create a cohesiveness in the sound profile of VG, both in editorial and commercial channels. We wanted a basic sound that could be adapted to different formats, but that still retained elements that make it recognisable.

While working remotely, testing, discussing, and experimenting, the final result emerged as this:

It is a soundscape built up of several elements that all help to show the whole VG, and it is a sound that can play well with everything we make. It contains heavy bass strings that have weight and credibility, while the lighter and more playful tones add the VG touch.

The hidden homage

When testing the final result on some users, the feedback was that the sound is a good match for VG because it conveys news while at the same time is cheerful.

It is nice to know listeners understand the message we are trying to communicate with our sound logo. VG is a serious news destination, but also a destination for entertainment. Now I am eager and excited to launch the brand score into podcasts, videos, content on smart speakers, and VG brand campaigns, Furevik said.

The newspaper slap makes an appearance in the new sonic logo.
The newspaper slap makes an appearance in the new sonic logo.

Let’s end with a few fun facts about the final result: The melody actually sounds like our name “Verdens Gang” as it’s pronounced in Norwegian. The last musical note in the melody is a G, as in “VG.” The first note conveys a question, while the other two notes represent an answer.

And the secret homage hidden in the audio logo? The first note you hear is actually made up of a physical VG newspaper slapping in the table — heavily processed with reverse reverb — as a homage to our legacy.

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