Sound News: Sound Agency Success with Helm Bank Launch

May 31st, 2011
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The Sound Agency is delighted with the overwhelmingly positive response to Banco De Credito’s re-launch as Helm, in two flagship branches in Bogota, Columbia this month. Helm’s mission was to completely redefine the concept of banking for its customers, and we have helped them to do this in all aspects of sound in business.

The results were positive to the extent that other banks have called with the acknowledgment that Helm is moving banking to a whole new level. The bank’s employees were overwhelmed with the change; we’re told there have been tears at the new-look branches, with some staff using our designed sonic logo as a ringtone on their mobile phones.

Helm re-launch is the world’s first ground up, integrated, multisensory brand, and we’re proud to be associated. The new sensory approach of Helm is now going to be rolled out initially to thirty branches, and in due course to all of Helm’s branches in Columbia and Latin America.

For us at the Sound Agency this is a landmark achievement, in our view it is the most comprehensive work for sound in business that has ever been undertaken by a company. We thought this would be a great opportunity to outline our contribution to Helm’s amazing new launch for any other business interested in improving sound in their business. We’ve outlined this as The Sound Agency’s “5D” process:






Case Study with Helm Bank.

1. Discover:

TSA traveled to Helm in Bogota and audited the soundscapes in their branches, in their head office and in their call centre using our unique Soundflow™ and Soundmap™ techniques:

Soundflow™ is a process we’ve developed to map, or to predict the effects of sound on people incorporating the five fundamental drivers of sound, the ways that the drivers are modulated by the circumstances in which they occur, and the outcomes this can have for business.

Soundmap™ is our way of breaking down the complex set of processes that constitute marketing into manageable chunks to ensure that no potentially significant application of sound is missed. We used this process to identify every opportunity for harnessing sound to enhance Helm’s brand.

2. Define:

We created a full set of Brandsound™ guidelines covering all expressions of brand and sound. We define Brandsound™ as “all the intentional sound which communicates and/or reinforces the qualities, tones and values that are best aligned with the brand promise, and which enhances and amplifies the desirable aspects of the brand experience”. This gave us a watertight framework in which to create consistent, planned, designed, intentional, appropriate and effective sonic solutions with Helm.

3. Design:

We moved into the creative phase of implementation producing:

  1. The Helm Brandsuite

    Custom designed musical options for Helm’s brand. This is usually a palette of musical options from which many ideas can be derived, a bit like a musical brainstorm. After Helm selected a musical base from a choice of Brandsuites provided by our composers, we could then focus and develop specific ideas from an approved and totally Helm focused source.

  1. The New Helm Sonic Logo

    The response to this so far has been amazing. As mentioned before, staff working in the two pilot branches like it so much that they are using it as their mobile ringtone.

  1. Branded audio in the form of Podcast Templates so Helm can produce local podcasts complete with stabs, stings, bumpers, and background music.


  1. Soundscapes for Bank Branches

Any of us that have been to a bank at busy times will know how potentially stressful the surroundings can be, standing in long queues, loud conversations and little if no consideration for your state of mind whilst being there. The end result is that many of us cannot wait to get out of busy banks, completely the opposite of what banks would want from us. All of the big names on the high street have attempted to mitigate this stress by trying tv, music and emulation of other environments, which either do not work or actually serve to increase the stress that is already there. The following work with Helm is an example of how it actually should be when you visit a bank:

Helm intelligently launched two in-branch zones based on their customer needs. In Columbia banks also play the role of post offices where people can pay bills and have administration done for them such as the processing of a driver’s license or a passport. In this zone we created a medium tempo soundscape that is designed to keep people alert and bright, to be pleasant and gentle whilst moving them through promptly.

The second zone is designed for customers that are using Helm’s core facilities and services such as opening accounts, organising loans etc. The description of the atmosphere in this zone would be cool and relaxing, giving the impression not unlike a first class airline lounge. The soundscape in this space is therefore designed to relax people, to be slow and high quality, incorporating both natural sound and designed sound.

  1. Hypersonic Soundspeakers

    Further to those two soundscapes, in the customer zone itself we’ve built a cone of sound on a feature Helm call the “Brand Beacon” which is a designer’s representation of a tree. We created the sound of the wind through leaves, which beams down from a hypersonic loudspeaker and bounces off the tree to the listener. Hypersonic sound is directional; you cannot hear anything unless your ears are in the path of the sound beam. The effect created is that sound seems to be coming from the tree, but you cannot hear it unless you are standing directly in front of it, eliminating noise pollution.

    We also installed hypersonic loudspeakers above the ‘product wall’ through which the bank can beam podcasts or any other product related sounds, so when you are standing in front of the product wall you get product information aurally as well as visually, but you don’t hear that in any other part of the branch.

We’ve also designed and created Playlists for Helm’s office as they want to hear music from time to time. We programmed this playlist with our partners at Rumblefish, and all of the sound in the branches is now being delivered with our Ambifier™ system. This is the world’s first installation of our Ambifier™ which is due to be rolled out to 30 branches by the end of this year.

Telephone Sound Consultancy.

We consulted on Helm’s IVR system, where we’ve advised them on the structure of their automated voice call handling system. We’ve also consulted on the type of voices to use for their recorded announcements – something that we call a ‘Brandvoice’ piece of work – that has followed through into selecting the actor or voiceover artist to record all of Helm’s telephone announcements.


We will be periodically maintaining, reviewing and improving the installations and sound practices that we have put in place, we are keen to learn and progress from Helm’s staff and customer feedback in the coming months, as well as discovering new avenues where we can consult with Helm on the sound of their brand for example we just moving now into consulting on sound for Helm’s website and any other web presences.

All in all we are very happy to share a fantastic case study with you. We hope to repeat this with other businesses and bring you more stories of happy clients.

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