ISD Team
19 Apr 2024

Zürcher Kantonalbank is the fourth-largest universal bank in Switzerland. It has embraced the changes in banking and expanded its products and communications with digital formats. The introduction of a sound identity should help to improve acceptance of digitization across all customer groups.


It’s easy for emerging banks to inspire tech-savvy customers through innovation. But how does bank with a 150-year-old heritage – Switzerland’s fourth-largest – transform itself into the digital age? How relevant are digital tools for a universal bank that has the statutory mandate to serve private and business customers, from school children to billionaires?

These overarching questions were again at the center of the development of the brand sound, as they had already been in the rebranding process. And they assigned a clearly defined role to sound: “For us, there are two decisive drivers in the brand context: technology and trust. Our sound identity is intended to establish a link between the two, and at the same time make our unique identity comprehensively tangible,” says Daniel Locher, Senior Brand Manager at Zürcher Kantonalbank.

These ambitions were achieved through a combination of organic and digital sounds, which, although familiar, are presented in a surprising and unconventional way: clear, lively and self-assured. The brand sound system is designed in such a way that specific applications and audiences can be addressed with varying expressions. In the process, the appeal of a dynamic banking innovator is successively linked to the feeling of trust towards the state bank. An overarching leitmotif provides the common thread.

To fine-tune the sound identity, «MeloMetric», the sound survey tool developed by Department of Noise together with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW was used, with which the impact was queried in detail with both internal and external stakeholders and then adjusted accordingly.

The outcome is a combination of organic and digital sounds that are built on three pillars:

  1. Stimulating in the sense of present, progressive and edgy is conveyed by a dry spatiality and rhythmic
    elements with organic and digital sounds that are used in an unconventional, surprising way.
  2. Responsible in the sense of honest, warm and familiar is expressed by real instruments that are softly
    played: Approachable and with a haptic feeling (e.g. piano and strings).
  3. Passionate in the sense of lively, vibrant and high quality is felt through the coherent use of the
    upright bass or cello.

The brand sound system is designed in such a way that specific applications/themes and customer segments can be addressed with different expressions: sometimes gentle, sometimes stripped-down, sometimes urban-cool, and sometimes with power. The aspect of “Zurich” remains tangible across its entirety through its typical form of reduction, directness and stringency. In addition, a leitmotif was developed that can be used with great flexibility on a harmonic and rhythmic level, while always ensuring coherence and brand reference. The new brand sound can be heard on many of the bank’s channels relevant for sound: from marketing, sponsoring and moving image activities to service center and branches.

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