The first hockey federation sings a new song
Boutique agency Audiobrain designed the league anthem for branding and broadcast
There are many elements of the live viewing experience that etch lasting memories into the minds – and hearts – of sports fans. Music is perhaps one of the most underrated elements of the madeleine in our collective sporting consciousness.
That’s especially true of the sport of hockey, where just last year one of the most talked-about storylines of the NHL’s reunion with ESPN was the return of the brand’s iconic theme song.
On the women’s side of the game, the premier North American women’s professional hockey league was rebranding, and the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) was looking to bring a new audible identity to its new brand.
PHF turned to the team at Audiobrain, a boutique sonic-branding agency based in New York, to develop a thrilling and energetic theme that would not only accompany the league’s new name and logo, but would make its broadcast debut alongside one season. live distribution agreement with ESPN in the United States
“You need to engage and bring emotion to the consumer,” says Audrey Arbeeny, Emmy-winning owner and executive producer/creative director, Audiobrain. “They must feel something. I’ve been doing this for a very long time and when I listen to this piece of music, I get excited.
The process of developing a sports TV theme is intriguing, and for the team at Audiobrain, it’s a process that includes a long process of research. Composers consumed everything they could on the league to identify the energy of its brand. This included watching several NWHL games (the league’s former name), attending press conferences, and speaking to key league stakeholders: executives, coaches, and players.
“The moment we start writing,” says Arbeeny, “we all sit down and say, ‘What makes this different? What’s going to make it stand out? And this music is so unexpected. It’s as strong as any broadcast brand theme we’ve ever written.
According to Arbeeny, the key qualities that were identified – and ultimately influenced the final product – were empowerment, inclusiveness and integrity. The team also aimed for a gender-neutral feel in their use of strings and brass.
“We follow a branding process,” she explains. “There is discovery and there is research. How does the brand position itself, what does it represent, what are its values and what are its main attributes?
“We don’t just write 15 demos and say, ‘Tell me which one you like,'” she continues. “Everything we write, every concept we write, the composers relate it to what we’ve heard from the brand, and that’s how we get the right characteristics in the sound.”
Audiobrain has quite a heritage in multimedia music and sound effects: its resume includes Olympic work for NBC, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and an earlier edition of the Major League Soccer anthem. The group currently has six award-winning composers on staff and has been serving the industry for over two decades.
“I not only knew Audrey [ability] creating and understanding music as a business, but [her ability to] understand how to use music to build a brand,” says Michael Cohen, PHF Executive Media Consultant. “It was important for this project because, as the Premier Hockey Federation enters its seventh season, this is the largest ever production of games on the air. We didn’t want to just start and launch these things on a media platform without really starting with “What is [the league] supposed to feel, look and, most importantly, sound like?
In addition to the main theme, the Audiobrain team also worked closely with Cohen and the broadcast side to develop a variety of teases and bumpers that match a traditional broadcast package. What will strike viewers’ ears at the top of a broadcast game compared to the opening of a league-branded podcast, or when the game switches to a commercial in the middle of the second period, or during a Goal of the Week segment at an intermission break.
The PHF has established this theme as universal, and not designed solely for live game streaming. It is a theme that will accompany the league in all environments, whether on site or on content on social platforms.
“It’s about cohesive, unified communication, where all voices and sounds are now headed,” says Arbeeny. “It’s gigantic.”
The Premier Hockey Federation returns to action on Saturday when the Metropolitan Riveters visit the Connecticut Whale at 1 p.m. ET and the Buffalo Beauts visit the Toronto Six at 2 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live in the United States on ESPN+.