Posted by: soundlounge | March 5, 2009

The U2 Sound: Can Brands Learn From Bands?


The fear of musical stagnation can be a creative band’s greatest fear. In striving to grow musically, creatively and commercially, musicians may feel they need to change their sound and or style of making music. However by doing this, a band may often cast-aside the musical elements that captivated their fans in the first place. So how can a band hold on to their musical equity and at the same time continue to evolve?

Whatever you may think about U2, they have constantly striven to adapt and develop their sound over the years, yet when we hear a U2 track we can instantly recognise their sound. Listen to this U2 mix over a 30-year period and you will see how the basic musical elements have changed very little over the years. From The Edge’s heavily-effected plucked guitar sound; Adam Clayton’s ‘one-note’ pounding bass style; Larry Mullen’s militaristic drumming and all topped-off by Bono’s passionate yelps, their sound has become so recognizable it is ripe for parody. So while this Irish quartet has sought to re-invent themselves a number of times over the years, they have always been aware of the value of holding on to the core elements that make-up their sound.

Besides the commercial implications of U2 as a brand, what can other brands learn from U2? To begin with, a brand needs to identify it’s own unique ‘Sound DNA’. The brand equivalent of U2’s effected plucked guitar sound, or pounding bass style. Every forward-thinking brand knows its: core values, customer base, logo, graphics etc. However, ask any brand guardian what style of music best represents their brand and you will probably get a blank look. Discovering the ‘Sound Of The Brand’ is the first step in creating a clear and consistent message through the use of music. Once a brand knows which musical elements best exemplify its values and ethos, like U2, it can change and adapt over years and territories without the risk of losing its equity. – Brian Kelly, Creative Director, soundlounge.

For more on ‘The Sound Of The Brand’, see our related articles or visit our official website –


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