T-Mobile takes over the world

How a new brand use sonic branding to impact global markets

Christopher McHale
10 min readNov 2, 2022


Put your brand everywhere

There’s a long stretch of tunnel, the subway picking up speed, the riders bent over their phones, some with their eyes buried in books. I see the novel IQ84 in one woman’s hand and watch her face. She’s lost in the unfolding Murakami world. I see it flicker across her face, these intersections of reality and dreams.

The subway is moving fast, peaking as fast as subways go, speeding under the steel feet of New York City.

And then I hear the tone.

Five notes.

The T-Mobile ringtone.

This is the story of its origin.

Build your network in all directions

It’s been over twenty years now. We had just opened our studios on Union Square. I remember when we were looking for space, and the agent showed us the 6th floor at 30 Irving. We wondered if anybody would come down there.

We were one of the first to get to the square. It seemed a long way from midtown. But the world was moving down to Union Square. It becomes over run soon enough.

I get a call one day from an executive at Interbrand. Interbrand is what they called a branding agency. That differed from the Madison Avenue crowd. This was not about burgers or beer or candy. This call was about something else entirely.

This time, the end of the 20th century, we were wrapping up the old world, the old ways. I don’t think we saw it then. People were showing up in my office and telling me if I didn’t build a website I’d be out of business in a couple of years.

I threw those folks out of my office. We were at the top of the game. I had a cabinet of awards. We had just built these incredible studios.

Technology never scared me. I’d spent a lot of time playing video games. I’d learned DOS. Remember? Those grey/green screens. The flash of text. The weird communities. I met weird people at night. I never got sucked into their world, but they were there. This pulse. This beginning.



Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher writes about creativity, culture, technology, music, writing. www.christophermchale.com