• Transform magazine
  • October 01, 2023


Five minutes with Roscoe Williamson

Roscoe Mm

Global creative strategy and innovation director at MassiveMusic and Songtradr, Roscoe Williamson, talks to Transform about his agency’s exciting work with TikTok. After two and a half years of working alongside the social media giant, the audio branding project has started to be heralded in many quarters as an iconic sonic brand.

TikTok required a sonic brand which could embody its brand and culture. What did you come to understand these things to mean, based on your research?

With TikTok, it's all about the creator culture and it is very much an enabler of creativity. It gives people the tools and quick access to make content, remix content, reimagine content and gives them a platform and a voice for them to express themselves. Fundamentally, we thought that it's a very unique opportunity to create a sonic brand that plays into that unique characteristic of the brand. That led us to this kind of overarching concept of the sound of ‘creative democracy’, which was our north star. It led us to thinking about whether we could create a sonic brand that can be adapted and loved and played with by the community because of the unique nature of the brand.

The other things were to do with the history and the relationship that TikTok has with music. We sampled loads of UGC sounds – quite famous sounds that people use as memes – and so it's all kind of mashed up in the music and they have been using that quite successfully. The other thing about the music is that it's a homage, particularly to hip-hop music and bass music has been so prominent and has been so loved by the community. We played with and distorted the 808 Sub Bass Kick, which is such a unique sound within that sort of production world, and that's the first sound you hear: the boom before the didalim. So there was the audience, the plot, the unique platform, the history of the music, and then there were a few kind of brand pointers in terms of territories that we needed to hit.


And how did you successfully instil the TikTok culture into this audio brand? What was your secret?

We did the mood boarding and the strategy to show how this sound of 'creative democracy' can extend to different touchpoints. We found within that this idea of doing sonic stickers, which is unique; there's no other sonic brand that has this as a deliverable. It's essentially adaptations of the DNA and the logo that the community can use and play with to do challenges or make films. We actually sought those out covertly, months and months before the logo was even released. People were making content all around the world and playing with it, but they didn't know they were actually playing with the sonic brand.

Then you get to the production phase and you start to brief composers to come back with logo ideas and DNAs. That's where it gets really, really difficult as a project because you get lost in it. You're listening to hundreds and hundreds of logos and you only really want to present a few to the client. I just remember somewhere through that process we thought, "Oh, we're never going to find it", and then just suddenly we heard the front end and then we heard the back end of the sonic logo and one of my colleagues put them together. You can actually hear it. If you listen carefully in the logo, there's a sound in the middle which is this clip of a dog barking. And that's because we literally just put these two sonic logos together. And then we realised that's the one.


I hear there have been some exciting results from the project. What are they?

TikTok and MassiveMusic (a Songtradr company) worked alongside Kantar and we tracked how the performance of the new logo worked with around 9000 consumers over eight key markets. The results proved that the new identity helped to reinforce brand awareness and affinity. There was a global study that revealed an approximate 52% recognisability rate, which is 40% higher than the average sonic logo. 73% of people said it feels 'unique', 'entertaining' and 'welcoming', which were the key attributes that we needed to hit. The recognisability rate is exceptionally high, and it demonstrated excellent performance in an independent evaluation study. So, post-launch tracking has been phenomenal, and we will continue to track its improvement.  Lastly, it's been great to see the general social sentiment around the new sound of TikTok receiving a warm welcome with many comments suggesting that the sound helps bring out the humour of content and already feels 'iconic'.