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At the Bar with Hans Brouwer of MassiveMusic

“It’s no secret that sound and music have the power to move us, trigger memories… and even make us fall in love.”

It’s a Thursday evening at Design Bridge Amsterdam. The sun is beaming, the wine is flowing, and there are bitterballen a plenty. Our latest installment of ‘At The Bar’ wasn’t one to miss and the tightly-packed reception area was testament to that. This month we were fortunate enough to welcome Hans Brouwer, Founder and CEO of MassiveMusic, to come and talk to us about how he believes that music can transform the way people connect and interact with brands.


Hans took us on the journey of MassiveMusic, starting at its creation back in 2000 when it was first set up as a traditional music composition and production company. A musicologist, aficionado, DJ, and member of a band since the age of 14, it was obvious why Hans exhibited such passion and expertise throughout the evening. MassiveMusic is now one of the leading music branding agencies in the world and has expanded its roots across 6 major cities, with their newest digs opening in Tokyo just a few weeks ago.


One thing for sure is that devotion for music is embedded within every inch of their employees. Whether it’s a 3 minute World Cup advert for Nike, a simple sonic logo branding, or jamming with colleagues in The Massive late night show band (just think Jimmy Fallon and The Roots), there is an overwhelming sense of pride and attention to detail that does not go unmissed, or unheard. Just check out the playlist they have expertly curated especially for DB. From Childish Gambino to Sola Rosa via Butch Cassidy Sound System, they’ve got us covered well into the summer (I’ve already had it on repeat for two days):

There is no doubt that the content created by MassiveMusic is some of the best in the world and the evocation of emotion is undeniable – whether that’s happiness, nostalgia, or comfort. Working across some of the biggest brands in the industry, we were given a taster of some of MassiveMusic’s most successful and impactful work.


Watching the videos (KLM sonic branding and Nike, write the future) proved it indisputable that music plays an imperative role in allowing a brand to stand out and, in turn, become recognisable and eventually even iconic. So I can’t help but wonder why is it such a rarity for brands to request sonic branding, and why it’s something that isn’t a more prominent topic of conversation with our clients?

Perhaps it’s not the most obvious thing when you think about branding, or marketing a brand for that matter. Packaging, sure. Point of sale, great. Advertising, go all out! If all of these elements spring to mind when you’re considering how to shape your brand, then why is sound – something that you don’t need to look at to experience – so often disregarded or not even considered to begin with?


Music is arguably one of the most influential and powerful elements in the world, used for all kinds of reasons, listened to by all kinds of people, conjuring all kinds of emotions, unlike anything else we’ve ever experienced. We all know that Intel “ping” don’t we? It’s one of the most recognisable sounds around the world and probably still will be for years to come. It may not be the most beautiful sound in the world, but it has created such a high recognition amongst its consumers that it doesn’t even need to be. Sound has the ability to awaken associations, build-up sympathy and induce real emotion towards a brand.

Take Nike Women’s advert for Russia, beautifully curated and composed by MassiveMusic and released on International Women’s day to challenge gender stereotypes specific to that region. The advert takes a traditional Russian children’s song and puts a twist on the lyrics to confront the perceptions of what people believe young girls are made of. We are not made of “gossip and marmalade”, nor “flowers and rings”. We are made of “striving, of self dedication”, and “of bravery and clenched fists”.

It’s easy for me to sit here and write about how I believe music can genuinely change the way we think, believe, and even our actions or behaviours, but you need to watch it for yourself to grasp the real impact and understand how the relationship between the music and the visual content is such an important one.

In today’s environment it’s often difficult for brands to break through and find that little nugget we are constantly striving for that helps them to connect and engage with their consumers. MassiveMusic have created their own ‘sonic strategy’ which allows a brand to speak in one, unmistakable and unforgettable voice, thus giving it the power to move the proverbial needle, so to speak:

• Your sound needs to stand out with a relevant voice of its own.
• Your sound needs to be authentic, showing true character.
• Your sound needs to be used consistently, anywhere, anytime.

They believe that these three things help trigger recall, create engagement, and help to create stand out in way that is relevant to the core of a brand.

At Design Bridge we are no strangers to a challenge or exploring how we can do things differently to come up with the best solution for our clients, and listening to Hans has made us all think a little harder about how we can combine design and sound to create a stronger, more original, and truly authentic brand. Using both mediums to fuel each other through audio, visual and emotional communication.

It’s the perfect combination when you think about it.

Special thanks to Gali and Eliot for taking these lovely photos.


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