Zwarte Roes

Brand Identity, Creative Concept, Sonic Branding

I created a case study for Zwarte Roes, a specialty coffee roastery. The case study was for a sonic branding project, for which I first had to research the brand and the industry. Then I would create a strategic & creative concept on how this company can integrate sound in their branding. And of course, what that would sound like.

Specialty coffee & the effect of sound on flavour

Specialty coffee is hand-picked by the farmers, choosing only the best and ripest berries. After that they have to go through a selection after which Zwarte Roes roasts them slowly to bring out all the flavours. Specialty coffee is much more flavourful than the coffee you buy in the supermarket, as the latter roasts the coffee beans much longer so you won't taste the poor quality of the beans.

They give extra care throughout the whole process, which not only improves the quality of the coffee but also makes it better for the environment.
You can compare it with mindfulness: the more attention you pay to something, the more you appreciate it. It reminded me of a mural I noticed in a coffee shop (see picture below). This illustration made me pay extra attention to my coffee and the different flavours in it, which ultimately improved the overall experience.

I also found an Oxford University Study, that described higher notes tend to bring out sour and sweet, and lower notes bring out bitter tones. By listening to higher or lower notes you can thus alter the flavour of what it is you're eating or drinking.

Want to test it yourself? Take a sip of coffee or bite of chocolate and play the first sound below. Then, take another sip or bite and play the second sound. Can you taste the difference?


Brand Values to Music Values

From my research I found there were 5 brand values that really stood for Zwarte Roes. Transparency is the most important one, as they want show exactly who is involved in the making of the coffee and how much of the profits are split between stakeholders. All these brand values I then translated into how that would sound like in music.

Creative Concept

Simply translating these values is not enough. There still has to be a creative angle, something that is really unique and makes the brand memorable.
Remember the Laurel/ Yanny audio illusion that went viral a couple of years back? Some people hear Laurel, some hear Yanny, even though it's the same audio fragment.

This gave me an idea for the sound logo: if we can create ambiguity by combining a high and a low note, it depends on the person what sound you hear (most).

If you mostly hear a high note, it’s associated with the acid tones in the coffee. If you mostly hear a low note you associate it with the bitter tones.

You can change the association towards the brand by focussing on either the high or the low note.

Why this fits the brand

Specialty coffee is defined in the first 3 stages of the process, but by creating an experience at home you make it full circle:
  • By putting more care and attention in the final stage, you increase the quality and experience
  • The sound enhances the different flavours in the coffee
  • It allows customers to explore and play with the Zwarte Roes, which is an extension of their brand 
Bonus: their FAQ's show that they have to explain to their customers that their coffee tastes different from supermarket coffee. This sound logo will emphasise ‘specialty’ in specialty coffee, and will probably make people more aware of the differences with 'normal' coffee. That means less complaints!

Sound Mnemonic

Zwarte Roes invites her customers to explore, go on an adventure and have a unique experience. They do this by putting extra care in their products and the environment, which increases the quality and flavour.

With the Sound logo we do exactly the same: the inspiring, uplifting tune makes you want to get up and going but at the same time invites you to pay more attention to your cup of coffee. 

This sound identity will make Zwarte Roes unique as it is an interactive concept that focusses on experience.