Making Of: A Sonic Identity for SmileDirectClub

It’s not every day we get to share a peek behind the curtain of our work. We spoke with our creative team and partners about creating a smile-inducing sonic identity for SmileDirectClub. Read on to find out what went into creating this infectious melody!

 

The Setup

SmileDirectClub, a rapid growth telehealth disrupter in the orthodontia space turned international oral care leader, has shown no sign of slowing down its ambitions. In 2020 they launched a line of innovative oral care products and muscled into the teeth whitening category, successfully carving out the number one spot for their whitening gel in the market.

Now it was time for SmileDirectClub to shift from DR to brand. Thus, their first brand campaign was born, and with it their need to develop their first sonic identity. It wasn’t just SmileDirectClub’s first sonic identity, it was the first sonic identity of anyone in their entire category—a fact which surprised even SmileDirectClub’s own senior leadership.

 

Why a mnemonic?

When Lindsay Cohen joined SmileDirectClub as Director of Production 2 years ago, she and the internal creative agency team all agreed they needed a mnemonic. A sticky, unforgettable piece of music that would be hummed and recalled for years to come.

Music was already written into the DNA of the group, most of the team being musicians themselves. This gave them a particular appreciation for the relationship between music and memory triggers. They already knew what many other larger brands are just now figuring out; there is no quicker way build brand equity than with a memorable sonic cue.

“Remember when Microsoft paid three million dollars to license the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’,” mused Bruce Henderson, Chief Creative Officer at SmileDirectClub, “Didn’t earn a shred of brand ownership. Yet, we all can’t get the original Barry Manilow composition written for State Farm,  ‘Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there’ out of our collective minds. It was clear which direction we would go for SmileDirectClub’s first brand campaign.

 

What was the process like?

Led by Producer Lucas Murray, we landed on simple but effective criteria for the work:

  • Does it make me smile?
  • Is it memorable?

 

We delivered on the brief with a break-out creative concept called “Say My Name,” They created a TikTok-ready demo of the concept which became the foundation for the fuller SmileDirectClub Sonic Identity. “We were able to create an instantaneously infectious melody that mapped onto the natural cadence and flow of the SmileDirectClub phrasing,” explained Murray.

“My favorite moment of this whole project was when Made Music played that video, and I saw my team’s eyes light up and smile like they were little kids,” said Lindsay, remembering the ‘love at first listen’ moment for the work.

 

How did it come to life?

SmileDirectClub launched their new smile-inducing mnemonic as part of their first brand campaign, “Choose Smile,” in January of 2021.

With a sonic logo that demonstrated their brand personality and promise, SmileDirectClub saw great success with the “Choose Smile” campaign. Audio intelligence company Veritonic found that work using the new sonic measured:

21% above norm for the CPG vertical
17% above norm for attributes like happiness
25% higher recall among families with kids

Remarking on launching their first brand campaign in the midst of a pandemic, Bruce shared, “COVID had forced everyone to re-think the act of self-care, and the importance of mental and physical health. The science behind smiling actually making you feel better was a simple truth behind our brand, and one that resonates with this time in history. This is how Choose Smile came to life.”

 

Who worked on it?

Danielle Venne – Creative Lead
Lucas Murray – Music Producer
Genna Ribak – Client Experience Lead
Bryan Natalio – Composer
Jason Webb – Vocalist/Vocal Arranger
Joel Beckerman – Founder + ECD

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