What does a brand sound like? That was the challenge facing sound design/audio post studio HOBO when they teamed with Nicktoons – the kid-targeted network featuring popular animated action shows such as “Spongebob Squarepants,” “WildGrinders,” “Power Rangers” and “Avatar” – on their first network rebrand since 2009.
“Rebranding is a major network initiative, and sound design is a critical part of that effort,” Howard Bowler, HOBO’s President says. “By the time the creatives at Nicktoons approached us for sound, they had already put in a great deal of time formulating a vision.”
Facing increased competition from networks like Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and HUB, Nicktoons wanted to brand their network as the place for cartoons, games and online videos. The network started with a look created by visual design studio Sibling Rivalry (www.siblingrivalrystudio.com) that combines a clever retro videogame style with a nod to modern visual tools like Vine and GIFs.
Enter HOBO sound designer/mixer Max Holland, who notes that Nicktoons creatives came to them with an open mind and a mandate to make the network sound different from everything else on TV.
“With sound design playing such a vital role in the rebrand,” Holland says, “rather than employing the more traditional, slick sounding ‘Hollywood-esque’ approach, we took our inspiration from Vine, YouTube, Instagram Videos, mashup videos and DJs.”
The company then stretched the audio boundaries by employing lo-fi video game sounds from the 80s and early 90s and remixing them into something fun, quirky and a little bit weird.
Holland adds, “Some spots in the rebrand sound big, some more intimate, but none are the same. By treating every audio element as sound design, including music, voiceover and sound bites from the shows, the effect was to create branding designed to appeal to a younger audience, one that is constantly immersed in competing media.”
In addition to an array of IDs, bumpers, interstitials, a new logo, revamped website and Nicktoons app, the network created original content to tie in with the rebrand across all of Nicktoons platforms, including a mash-up video montage of the rebrand with clips from shows like “Sponge Bob Square Pants” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” called “Anthem” and a rap song based on “Power Rangers.”
“For a boutique firm like ours,” Bowler adds, “effectively delivering this volume of work for a major network highlights the capabilities of our focused and dedicated staff. Max and his team sound designed and mixed over 200 individual pieces, ranging from three seconds to three minutes. Nicktoons execs were happy with the conceptual approach we took, and under Max’s supervision, we were able to deliver something truly unique.”
HOBO is an audio post production company dedicated to creating an exceptional listening experience. With a growing staff and client list, HOBO has earned the trust of some of the most iconic brands and companies in the world. Make yourself at HOBO.