Is your brand a few bars short of a symphony?
How music and sound can help to capture the hearts of more customers
Is your brand fit for the fight? Of course it is.
I bet your mission, vision and values are all nailed, glued and velcroed down and that your brand promise will never ever be broken. I’m equally sure that key tints of the colour palette are in place, there’s a crystal-clear tone of voice and an x-height demilitarised zone around the logo. (I’m guessing it sits in a corner and is never reversed out of a full-colour image. Right?)
All good so far. But can you describe to yourself, your colleagues, and your customers what your brand actually sounds like?
If not, why?
Visual consistency and tonally-compliant writing are your table stakes – critical yet necessary.
However, marketers looking to make meaningful connections know that well-developed sonic attributes can help their brand perform at its brilliant best.
Beethoven’s Dopamine Symphony
The last two decades have given us endless sonic brand triggers and a plethora of brand sound designs wide enough to make Phil Spector’s wig spin.
But research has proven that hearing songs that we like triggers a dopamine release. And, as we all know, dopamine = pleasure. But, interestingly, even the anticipation of hearing likeable songs, or upcoming parts of songs, is enough to release dopamine in some people.
Beethoven, it’s reckoned, used anticipation expertly in many of his scores. He would define the tonic chord, then never actually play complete versions of the tonic until the very end…finally fulfilling audiences’ expectations and letting loose a commensurate deluge of dopamine in the run-up.
Now, imagine a pleasurable song happened to be your brand’s sound. Suddenly, you’re engaging with customers on a very different, multi-sensory level. You’re making them happy. They want to hear from you. They feel positive about your brand. So they’re more likely to tell others. What’s not to like?
But wait. It gets even better.
There is solid evidence that music can actually change the type of attention we are paying to the world around us. Iain McGilchrist (author of The Master and his Emissary) proposes that listening to music in a major key, or with a simple rhythm, tends to attract the narrow-focused attention that we use our left brain to generate. Conversely, McGilchrist argues that minor key songs, or those with a more complex time signature, tend to attract the more open attention of the right brain.
Could bespoke deliver an even better ROI?
Music is beautifully abstract, yet very powerful. It’s pure escapism, guiding emotions effortlessly through major and minor tones. And it’s memorable. Why else would we claim to suffer from ‘earworms’ or use phrases like “the soundtrack of my life/year/day”?
In practical terms, music and sound can make a congress experience more memorable; they can help an e-detail or other face-to-face sales piece create a more vivid experience by supporting the tone of the piece as the story develops.
Four watchouts when creating sonic branding
Creating the right sonic landscape for your brand could be the best commercial commitment you make this year. But it’s wise to beware the pitfalls. Wary treading is essential, as is the need to follow these recommendations:
- Commit to making sound an integral part of your brand’s architecture and devote concerted energy to getting it absolutely right.
- Determine the role(s) that sound will play in your brand’s presence – do you need it to support content, help lead the conversation, introduce innovations?
- Think carefully about the character of your brand and decide how best to reflect this in a brief.
- Diversify the talent you involve in your brand’s sound creation. Don’t be afraid to mix creatives, planners, colleagues, and music professionals.
If you need any further help, my Bontempi organ is plugged in and ready to go! You hum it, I’ll play it.
Your campaign might be visible to the eye…. but what about the brain?/by Michel Dubery
Let’s get real about artificial intelligence/by Michel Dubery
So you’ve set yourself a New Year’s resolution…/by John Perkins