SoundCloud Pulse

Branding SoundCloud's creator app

Brand
Strategy
UI/UX
User Research

The SoundCloud app for creators is a strong testiment to SoundCloud's continued dedication to creators and creativity. It makes creators feel understood, and demonstrate SoundCloud's long-term commitment to them.

The identity of the app was going to be a key component of the overall brand positioning: the app will both come from SoundCloud’s brand and also feed back into it.

We identified the app’s identity as: energetic & engaging; rewarding, with constant feedback; surprising, but still serious; all with a subtle urgency.

Naming the app

The app's name needs to:

  1. Communicate what app is for and what it does
    … without misleading as to what it is actually capable of (at launch, and later)

  2. Put creators at the core, make them feel understood
    … while still being part of the wider SoundCloud brand and family

  3. Stand out in app-stores from the Listener app, and other category apps
    … without feeling like a sub-brand

  4. Express the identity of app
    … without being solely emotional / intangible

In order to ensure we had an informed decision making process, we ran an Open Mic Survey on the different names in play: SoundCheck, SoundCloud Pulse and SoundCloud Amp. We did not only test the popularity of the names, but also trying to better understand the associations of our core users with each potential name.

‍We surveyed 124 highly engaged, self-identified SoundCloud creators aged 16 to 50+

We tested the associated attributes of name contenders, and what we found was:

  1. That SoundCheck was seen as the most Professional, Confident and Exciting, and it was perceived to be more Comprehensive and Convenient.
  2. That SoundCloud Pulse was seen as Active and Inspiring, as well as Cool, Creative and Fresh.

One of our goals for the name was that it had to fit in nicely with the overall SoundCloud brand positioning. Furthermore, we wanted to ensure that it felt energetic and engaging; rewarding, with constant feedback; surprising, but still serious; all with a subtle urgency. Having a name that reflected those values, was more important than the first-glance attractiveness of the name. We decided to go with SoundCloud Pulse.

Branding the app

Now that we had a name, we needed to decide on the positioning and the key visuals of the brand. Should it be clearly distiguishable from SoundCloud's main branding, or should it feel like a close cousin> Perhaps even a sibling?

In order to give some common ground for decision making, we took a minute to look at competitors. Based on this, we were able to define a scale of relatability, and clearly explain the parameters of each point on the scale:

  1. Brand
    Complete brand recognition. No hierarchical distinction between apps, 100% brand.
  2. Suite
    Main app + secondary apps. Secondary apps can stand alone, but exists within main app as well.
  3. Hierarchy
    Main app + companion apps. Companion apps can’t stand alone, and main app works without them.
  4. Separate
    Separate apps. Conscious decision to keep apps independent from each other.

We determined that the creator app belonged in the Hierarchy bracket: One main app + companion app. The branding should identifiably be part of SoundCloud, but still stand out in app-store from our listener app.

We did not want to invent a completely new sub brand, but rather focus on communicating that this app contains features specifically for creators that do not exist in the listener app.

Finally we were not putting this at level with the listener app, which remain the SoundCloud app: The Creator App is a specialized companion app.

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