The Sound of Luxury

In the annals of automotive innovation, November 28th, 2018 marked a peculiar milestone: the birth of the Lincoln Chimes. The brainchild of Jennifer Prescott, overseer of "Vehicle Harmony" at the motor company, this warning system replaced the synthetic sound of in-car emergency alerts with a blend of violin, viola, and marimba played by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Lincoln's endeavour followed in the wake of Bentley revamping its alert and indicator sounds, drawing inspiration from the gentle ticking of a grandfather clock - but cars are not the only luxury products to dabble in ‘sonic branding’. From computer startup chimes to the noise accompanying credit card transactions, there’s a soundscape of jingles which have become an integral part of our conditioned understanding of products and experiences.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly discover how NBC were the first company to trademark  a sound; check out MasterCard’s deviation into recorded music; and reveal just how many drafts Brian Eno went through before settling on his final start-up sound for Windows95…

Further Reading:

• ‘Why Big Brands Are Using Sonic Signatures To Reach Consumers’ (Forbes, 2018):

• ‘Inside Mastercard’s ‘10-layer’ sonic branding plan’ (Marketing Brew, 2022):

• ‘2019 Lincoln Aviator chimes recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’ (Wheel Network, 2018):

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Ollie Peart.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.

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