What should Wikipedia sound like? A new contest asks you to design its sonic logo

The new audio-focused open call mirrors Wikipedia’s 2003 design contest, where the earliest version of its puzzle globe logo was established.

Date
20 September 2022

A fascinating new creative brief is accepting submissions until 10 October. Wikimedia Foundation – the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects – has unveiled a new global contest to find a sound logo for both Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects (the collection of free knowledge projects which also includes Wikibooks and Wiktionary). Titled The Sound of All Human Knowledge, the new contest reflects the “open, collaborative spirit” behind Wikimedia projects, a Wikimedia press release explains, allowing creatives to contribute to its brand by submitting sounds.

So what is a sound logo? Put simply, it's a short collection of sounds that represent a brand. It's particularly useful in signalling its presence in audio-only settings. Netflix, McDonalds and the MGM lion all offer great examples of a recognisable sonic logo. According to a recent press release from Wikipedia, the popularity of sound logos has been on the up in recent years, “with the number of active voice assistant users growing from 544.1 million in 2015 to 2.6 billion in 2021".

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Wikimedia Foundation: Pre-made social post for the promotion of the Sound Logo campaign, using the “Nature” themed sound wave created by Hello Computer for Wikimedia Foundation (Copyright © Wikimedia Foundation, 2022)

For Wikimedia projects, an ownable sound is vital for the brand too, as it continues to “increasingly power other websites and general knowledge queries on voice-assisted devices”, the release continues. Serving to help listeners know when they are accessing knowledge from Wikimedia anywhere online, the sound logo needs to respond to a curious creative brief: what does Wikipedia sound like?

“As people encounter knowledge from Wikimedia projects in new ways, the Wikimedia brand needs to be present in new formats,” states Zack McCune, director of brand at the Wikimedia Foundation. “The sound logo contest asks participants to consider, what does free knowledge sound like? We built a contest that aims to answer that question while reflecting the collective wisdom of the crowd ethos of the Wikimedia projects and movement.”

Just like previous Wikipedia branding contests, the Wikimedia Foundation worked in close collaboration with the volunteers that write and edit Wikipedia (and Wikimedia projects) to design the open call. All submissions will be reviewed by volunteers, plus five sound experts and a musicologist assembled by MassiveMusic.

The committee will narrow down 10 sounds that can be easily recalled and adopted across audio settings, and reflect Wikimedia “movement’s values”, the press release summarises. A final sound will be chosen out of these 10 beginning 29 November. Creatives looking to submit logos for consideration can find out more here.

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Wikimedia Foundation: The Sound of All Human Knowledge for Wikimedia Foundation (Copyright © Wikimedia Foundation, 2022)

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Wikimedia Foundation: Pre-made social post for the promotion of the Sound Logo campaign, using the “Science and Innovation” themed sound wave created by Hello Computer FCB for Wikimedia Foundation (Copyright © Wikimedia Foundation, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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