Etihad Airways takes flight with sonic branding inspired by Emirati weaving

Etihad Airways has taken off with a new sonic branding that pays tribute to its Arabic roots. Done together with Sixième Son, the new sonic branding was inspired by the traditional Al Sadu weaving method; an emblematic Emirati craft requiring skill and creativity. Sixième Son blended traditional instruments with both organic and electronic textures, mirroring the weaving method. The team also worked with local musicians to ensure authenticity, using instruments such as the ney, kanoon and oriental percussion, to produce a melody exclusive to the Etihad experience. 

The new sonic branding would be adopted through digital communication, TVCs, terminals, lounges and onboard to accompany travellers from booking to landing.  Sixième Son's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the project started before COVID-19 and the teams already had in mind to use sound quite strategically and to use it as a tool to reinforce its brand equity. The period that followed allowed for more thought and time to exchange ideas in order to move towards a very holistic system. Additionally, Etihad wanted to make music a part of its brand legacy, a spearhead of its Arabic roots while being innovative and anticipating the expectations of its customers in a screenless world.

At the same time, the airline also created a new sonic identity design, incorporating its ethos of bridging diverse cultures by welcoming the world to Abu Dhabi into its sonic identity design. This was to ensure that the brand’s Emirati roots and outward-facing cosmopolitanism were central in the project. Sixième Son's spokesperson added that the brand is betting on the "virtuous circle of attention, attribution and engagement" to stand out amongst competitors.

Amina Taher, vice president brand, marketing and sponsorships of Etihad Airways said that the launch of its sonic identity is an expression of its culture. With an eclectic mix of Emirati and international instrumentation and arrangements, played by musicians from the UAE and around the world, she said Etihad guests will hear dozens of bespoke music tracks which have been built from the same sonic DNA when onboard its aircraft, in its lounges, at events, when calling the contact centre, on the radio or when watching its videos.

Laurent Cochini, managing director of Sixième Son said that the sonic experience would create positive brand memories. “With its sonic identity, Etihad successfully connects employees, travelers and customers throughout the world and sets a high standard in creating customer engagement. Working with the Etihad team has been mutually enriching and we’re truly grateful that they stepped up to push boundaries with us”, Cochini added.

Etihad's latest sonic branding initiative follows its WeChat mini programme launch in March last year to better engage its Chinese customers. It also joins a list of brands that have tapped on sonic branding to drive awareness, including Maybank, Singapore Airlines, Oppo, PETRONAS, Julie's and Netflix.

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