The new BMW sound logo does not only inherit the paralyzing sound symmetry of its predecessor, it very unskillfully tries to add an additional layer of dynamism which goes in the totally wrong direction – BACKWARDS!
Sound branding is something that lies on the ‘more obscure’ side of the branding discipline, so I am not surprised why I haven’t found any commentary and/or reactions to the latest sound logo rebranding of the BMW brand so far. Apparently the old BMW sound signature (logo) existed for 14 years. This is something I was NOT aware of, and I would have to point fingers at the non-existent advertising budget the dealers of this brand in my country had trough the years. But luckily, this tragedy turned out quite well since I got to experience both sound logos today, playing them one right after the other.
Thanks to professional web journalism, thinking that I was hearing the new version, firstly I turned all ears for what apparently was the old existing logo >>>
If we analyze this old logo which people like to call a ‘double gong’ (which is very far from it), we would see (hear) that it is composed of two identical sounds which are probably produced by blowing into large pipes (or a bottle, or an instrument in which air circulates in the same way…. you get the picture). Tone it down an octave maybe, add some cool echo effects and voila – it spells BMW – NOT! After hearing it my thoughts were something like… “Well, this sounds like banging on plastic pipes” and it left me with an image of a shallow and abandoned (probably rusty) BMW car engine. Though I haven’t read about the significance and/or the background story this logo has to offer, it misses the mark so badly I don’t even feel like I want to do the research. Although it appears to have stuck with listeners (let’s be honest, after 14 years, what wouldn’t?) I don’t think it produces the adequate images to BMW in one’s mind. All I can hear is emptiness and a void. This is very far from the BMW brand which is encapsulated in their slogan – The ultimate driving machine.
Onwards to the new and allegedly improved version >>>
If BMW is the ultimate driving machine, instead of a void, there has to be an excitement, power and adrenaline added to the new sound logo, right?
That is all there, but it is backwards!
If you tune in to the new sound logo carefully, you can hear two deep beats (again, why two!?) playing forward and what appears to be a formula sounding Doppler Effect made by few brass instruments played in reverse. Don’t get me wrong, sounds in reverse are not a foreign thing when it comes to designing sound logos. They are unexpected to the ear and as such stand out from everyday sounds making them ideal for such a task. In this case though you can still recognize an actual orchestra playing . The sound is not processed (masked) enough, so it sounds like a broken record playing backwards…
Masking/manipulating the sound so one would not recognize it right away is crucial. Firstly, it sounds more professional and secondly, it is because you buy cars to propel you forward! Reverse sounding effects should not be a part of any automotive brand, let alone BMW which should be the symbol of acceleration and power. When I hear this logo, a part of me says “Oh my God! This engine is going to break down at any moment!”
Unfortunately, there is another issue I would like to address, and that is the issue of the “double repetitive sound” whitch is present in both of the logos. My opinion is that any symmetric symbol should not have a place in an identity used by the automotive industry. Symmetry means balancing between equal parts and it stands for equilibrium, stability and the static. Need I remind you that this industry is an industry that aims at the opposite principles: luxury, power, speed and motion. Having that in mind, both of the logos play sounds which are repeated exactly two times in both cases. As you know, the number two is an even number and in its nature is symmetric. This doesn’t need to be that bad, but In our particular case the sounds are not only at the same pitch, they are with the same length as well (the second logo has a shorter second beat, but still…). This symmetry brings the whole identity to a halt and I don’t have to say that in this case, this is really really bad.
To put it in short words, the new BMW sound logo does not only inherit the paralyzing sound symmetry of it’s predecessor, it very unskillfully tries to add an additional layer of dynamism going in the totally wrong direction – and that is backwards.