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Berlin: Public Transport Provider BVG Introduces New Sound Concept

The BVG’s vehicles already have a uniform color and an agency that has been creating excellent and memorable radio spots, banner and billboard ads as well as video clips. Now, the state-owned company’s sound is becoming consistent as well.

Sofia, Bulgaria, May 19th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — In modern times, there are so many things to think about, including the branding for public transport providers such as Berlin’s BVG. Its thousands of trams, buses and ‘U-Bahn’ trains have been yellow and orange for a long time, but the sound concept was not uniform or convincing. This is about the gongs that are played on all BVG vehicles to introduce announcements.

Overall Concept

Obviously, sound branding is a complicated science. That is why the BVG hired a specialized agency known as Why Do Birds, a name which obviously is a reference to the song “Close to You” by The Carpenters. It created the new gongs, sounds that are being played when the doors close and other audio elements BVG passengers will hear. The sounds that were used until now were not part of an overall concept, but rather audio signals that had been created separately and were not really compatible.

Philippa Jarke is the BVG’s new voice. Photo: BVG/Olover Lang

There are several new audio signals. An unobtrusive one is played just before the next station is announced. For other, more important announcements, including those about Corona rules, the sound signal is more striking because it is supposed to attract attention. At least passengers who do not wear headphones should hear what the BVG has to say.

Big Role

According to Timo Kerssenfischer of the BVG, “attention sounds” play a big role in regard to orientation. Passengers who use those trams, trains or buses a lot will already know what kind of announcement they have to expect when they hear the gong. The sounds the BVG chose are supposed to make it easy to disregard certain announcements the content of which people already know.

Berlin’s BVG has new sounds. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Some of the sounds that are being used now were recorded in the streets of Berlin. They include voices and other audio elements that are supposed to reflect the colorful and diverse city. The new voice the BVG uses for all announcements reflects those same attributes. It belongs to Philippa Jarke, a transgender person.

Complicated Changes

Passengers can already hear those new branding sounds in all ‘U-Bahn’ stations, trams and buses right now. But it will take weeks until they are audible on Berlin’s ‘U-Bahn’ trains themselves because it seems to be complicated to change the audio there.

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