China Central Television International (CCTV) is part of a global broadcasting force that reaches over one billion people. The network recently entrusted the sound of the rebrand for their five international channels to Stephen Arnold Music, which created a range of compelling new themes for CCTV English, French (African), Spanish, Russian and Arabic.  

Stephen Arnold Music was tasked with creating a sonic brand and comprehensive music package that would be shared between the five CCTV International Channels, all while taking into account the individual channel regions, cultures, and target audiences. It proved to be a planet-spanning project as epically challenging as it was rewarding.

Between working with decision-makers half a world away, navigating significant cultural differences, plus unprecedented collaboration with motion graphics and set designers, CCTV was a Sonic Branding journey all its own. “These are the jobs that you dream about,” says Chad Cook, Vice President, Creative, for Stephen Arnold Music. “We were involved in a top-to-bottom rebrand of one of the largest global news organizations anywhere: The music we made is being heard on channels that reach billions – not millions – of homes worldwide.”

A Sonic Branding Journey
To ensure creative interaction and clear communication with the group of CCTV decision makers, Stephen Arnold Music personnel made multiple trips from Dallas to the network’s headquarters in Beijing. By making the journeys, Stephen Arnold Music’s creative team gained the best possible understanding of the many fundamental differences between Eastern and Western culture: everything from group dynamics to unlucky numbers and visual interpretation of imagery all vary widely. Because few CCTV managers spoke English, there were multiple meetings requiring the use of translators.

The visual artistic concepts rendered by design firm Flint Skallen were founded in the ancient Chinese principle of yin and yang, wherein apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary. Back in Dallas, Stephen Arnold Music’s team of composers always scored to picture, synchronizing their original themes to Flint Skallen’s striking visuals. For example, the channel ID visuals depicted the natural elements of Water, Wind and Light reflecting CCTV International’s core brand values: Balance, International, and Multiperspective.

Stephen Arnold Music created music that complemented the concepts and messaging of the outstanding visuals, giving each channel a foundation of percussion and rhythmic instruments. “Beats and rhythms have a primal quality that binds people across all regions, and connect on an international level,” Cook explains. “Although each channel’s theme had to be distinct, the challenge was to not make any of them overly culture- or region-specific.”

Melodic parts were interwoven with the rhythmic beds, often evoking a cinematic feel with emotional chords, and modern string arrangements that move in time with the percussion. Electronica elements and a variety of time signatures were also employed. Throughout, a distinctive four-note sonic logo ensures that the CCTV International themes maintain a memorable connection with the network’s viewers.

International Reach
CCTV is just the latest global news network to work with Stephen Arnold Music, joining an elite portfolio that includes CNN, Al Jazeera, and others -- it’s a run that continues because of Stephen Arnold Music’s consistently comprehensive preparation. “To work on this level, you have to do the research,” says Stephen Arnold, President of Stephen Arnold Music. “You never write a single note or beat without having to answer, ‘Why?’

“Creating these themes may have been our most challenging project yet, but we loved every minute of it,” Arnold concludes. “The CCTV International sonic brand has a sense of sophistication, beauty and artistry to it, and at the end of the day it was fun to create. Assignments like this add to our love and passion for what we do.”

Web Resources
Click here to watch the complete CCTV International sonic branding package:; Click here for CCTV International/Channel IDs: ; Click here for CCTV International/News Opens: ; Click here for CCTV International/Network Rebrand:

About Stephen Arnold Music
Often referred to as the most-heard, least-known composers in America, Stephen Arnold Music’s creativity is experienced every day in more than 100 million homes throughout the U.S. Based in Dallas with offices in San Diego and New York, with additional recording studios in Santa Fe, “The World Leader In Sonic Branding™ has more than 20 years of success delivering impactful, brand-defining music that makes a difference for today’s top broadcast networks, cable channels, television stations, film production studios and advertising agencies. With multiple Emmys, Addys and Promax Golds to their credit, Stephen Arnold Music’s specialized approach and commitment to the power of sonic branding, state-of-the-art production and unparalleled customer service is at the core of its promise. Stephen Arnold Music continues to set the creative bar in a highly competitive content landscape.

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