Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design

Interview with sound design expert Rainer Hirt

“Good acoustic design is both functional and humanitarian at the same time.” – interview with sound design expert Rainer Hirt

Once per year, the jury of the Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design meets to select the best designed brands and communication works. Sound design is one of the most important ways in which designers and companies can address their target groups on an emotional and sustainable level. In order to be able to professionally evaluate the projects submitted in the Red Dot Award, experts are needed who are familiar with the particularities of the respective communication design disciplines. Rainer Hirt belongs to this panel and enriches the Red Dot Jury with his expertise in acoustic design in 2019.

Rainer Hirt: passionate audio specialist

Born in Überlingen, Germany, in 1979, Rainer Hirt studied communication design at the University of Applied Sciences in Konstanz, Germany. He founded the corporate sound information portal in 2003, a resource well known to experts in the field. After his studies, he also co-founded audity, an agency specialised in audio branding and audio interaction. Rainer Hirt is also supervisor of various research projects at several universities, as well as co-founder of the Audio Branding Academy, the first independent institute for acoustic brand communication. Rainer Hirt talked to Red Dot about sound design as well as his work as juror and gave also personal insights.

Red Dot: What was your first design project?
Rainer Hirt: My first sound design project was the development of an audio logo for a school friend's fashion label in 1998.

Who are your role models in sound design?
It’s always been Ben Burtt (Star Wars). He is one of the most incisive sound designers who, through his analogue work, has promoted sound design identity in moving images. I also admire Diego Stocco whose creativity always surprises me and who pushes the boundaries.

Which development opportunities do sound designers have?
Digitalisation has led to greater auditory support of digital products – in my opinion, currently the area with the greatest development potential.

What makes up good sound design?
Good acoustic design is both functional and humanitarian at the same time.

Where do you currently see the greatest innovations in sound design?
In my opinion, the most important field of innovation in sound design is “artificial intelligence” (deep learning) at the moment.

How important is “being different” in the field of sound design for success?
Differentiation is only one part of acoustic identity. However, the function is always in the foreground – according to the motto “Sound follows function”.

And how do you remain acoustically remembered as a brand?
A high memorability is created by a good idea, the optimal multimodal fit as well as stringency and consistency in use.

Which strategy do you have to constantly offer new solutions?
It is always worth to be attentive and to listen. Inspiration can be found everywhere – in nature or in urban environments.

Looking back, what do you remember particularly well from the jury session in 2018?
In addition to the very collegial and cordial interaction with the jury colleagues and the entire Red Dot Team, I especially remember one work that more than deserved the Red Dot: Grand Prix (Editor's note: Online film “Everyone is equal. No one is more equal.”).

What distinguishes the Red Dot Award from other design competitions?
Currently, the Red Dot Award is the most relevant design award from the multi-modular point of view as the focus is not just on work of a visual nature.

Ausgezeichnetes Sound Design im Jahr 2019

In July, Rainer Hirt and the other jurors will meet to determine the new best marks in 17 communication design categories and 36 industries. The acoustic achievements that will be able to inspire the experts at the Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design 2019 will be announced on 1 November at the internationally acclaimed award ceremony in Berlin.