Cannes Lions

The Sound of Colgate


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To support Colgate's brand promise of optimism in action, we conducted our most thorough academic research study to date. We interviewed leading academics, ethnomusicologists, and music historians to try and decode the sound of optimism.

The key of D Major was chosen for the sonic brand, as it’s widely accepted as optimistic. Bright frequency timbres were used, with unexpected musical moments injected into every track. Our research showed occasional musical surprises - the odd trill here, an unexpected chord change there - have been shown to delight listeners.

Humming was chosen as a key ingredient. Universally accepted as a sign of optimistic behaviour and language agnostic, the human hum became our sonic weapon of choice and a core ingredient for the sound of Colgate. We included a blend of both female and male tones, for universal appeal, and recorded the vocal elements to sound up close unprocessed, and natural.


The Sound of Colgate was a project of global scale, involving a complex stakeholder group spanning both the client and our agency. The creativity at the core of the project is unique and the outcome is pushing the boundaries of our discipline.

Living across 200+ markets, the sound of Colgate needed to be flexible and easy to implement. The key to this challenge was rollout and implementation. Colgate works with our creative agency teams all over the world.

Senior members of Colgate's partner agencies worked alongside us to create the Sound of Colgate. This cross-agency collaboration was vital to the project's success. During the implementation phase, we had complete creative buy-in, and enthusiasm from the agency partners to work with the sonic brand.

Informed by our research project and a need for flexibility, the Colgate sonic branding system includes a sonic logo, an overarching sonic DNA (the building blocks of the brand sound in music), and over 20 branded music adaptations that stem from that DNA, all infused with the signature Colgate sound. When used together, this musical system is a unique brand-building tool - one that can adapt to a myriad of content and touchpoint needs across different territories. Clear guidelines have been created so various markets can brief external composers to create ‘on-brand’ music adaptations, and workshops were run for each market on how to best use the sonic brand.

In less than 1 year, the Colgate sonic brand has achieved 52% market cut-through and recognition, along with 22% of consumers correctly attributing the sound of Colgate to the brand - far above typical recognition scores for a new sonic brand. In LATAM there are early indications that the sonic brand is not only building recognition but aiding and reinforcing brand equity.

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