The Sound of Shell

Distinctive Audio Branding for one of the world's most recognisable brands

Sonifying a World Famous Brand

Few brands in the world can boast a visual brand as iconic and singular as Shell’s. CORD was engaged to manage the transition of the brand from the static visual world of the past to the moving, multi-sensory world of the future. The challenges were to create new equity without damaging old, to unite a fragmented set of sub-brands within a single multi-sensory framework and to deliver content strategies that would bring to life the sound of the brand. Our aim is to establish Shell as a credible music industry supporter and build engagement with new audiences through music content and experiences.


The types of assets needed included a live music platform, digital platform, talent strategy and a music toolkit (including publishing and recording assets). The creative definition of each of these involved workshops to build mood-boards and direction. As we moved through these processes, it was always paramount that while each sub-brand and agency must have its voice heard, the overall goal was to reach consensus and build one set of assets of each type; ensuring that they were robust enough to scale and thrive.


Mapping the Shell customer journey, we were able to uncover the multi-sensory touch-points available to the brand. This research helped us identify the assets that would be required to create a cogent sensory narrative. Identifying the nuances of Shell’s seven sub-brands was essential. By analysing the sound of the sub-brands in their past and present communications, we were able to uncover the common denominators and key differentiators, stripping away the noise of 50 years of inconsistent choices. More than 200 individual communications were analysed in order to build the case for unifying music, within a flexible framework. The presentation of our findings was a critical step towards building consensus in what had been a disunited set of brand guardians.

Our initial output was a new anthem for Shell, the recording of which was taken as an opportunity to create content that would engage the internal audience. The anthem was funded by all seven sub-brands, which was unprecedented. It is estimated that an overall cost saving of more than $500k has been made in the first 12 months of its use as a global theme for all communications above and below the line. Shell continues to roll out its anthem and our engagement team are now employed as guardians of the Sound of Shell.