Photo by @andreapiacquadio_

Fellow customer, look at me!

There’s plenty of things that distract us and we easily lose focus. Almost half of the participants in a study, led by Microsoft, said that they need to focus very very hard to be able to maintain their attention just on one task (Consumer Insights, 2015). It’s so easy to just look at something else. One glimpse and you’re out!

So how the hell are we supposed to get our (potential)client’s attention!?

When it comes to audiobranding, there are 3 things that will get it done: message consistency, music’s bond to emotion(s), and sound exclusiveness.

1. Message consistency: “Oh, I know it’s you, I’ve heard you before!”

Your brand must be paired with a certain sound/music. You have to be represented by a distinguishable sound identity. Wherever you go, THAT sound follows. Whether it is a simple melody or a set of sounds, it doesn’t matter as long as it can clearly set your brand apart.

Let’s say you chose a nice simple melody. Whenever there’s a TV ad, a radio commercial or any other publicity, your melody will BE THERE. It will your signature. But, you don’t want to bother people with the same melody again and again right? So you’ll show it in different ways.

Maybe you’ll want other musical instruments to play it. It was okay to have it played by a string quartet, you say to yourself. It gave a nice air of prestige to your brand. But now you want a electrosynth version of it mixed with those strings, so that it maintains its sophistication and adds a cool cinematic flavor on top. Now your brand is epic!

Maybe you can make it slow-paced for that ad you are soon going to launch. You want to convey a message that today there’s no time to get anything done with all the fast paced world we live in. But, when it comes to your product, time simply stops.

Everything just waits for you. And there it is. Your brand’s melody slowly in the background while your product/service is being displayed. People have heard it before, but this is a little bit different. It’s your brand alright, but refreshed.

Listen to the ending of this Coca-Cola ad. It’s their sound logo, but sang at a slower pace.

You’ll have an audio insignia and by using it over and over again, it will create a feeling of familiarity in your audience. And the human psyche is drawn to things that are recognizable. Studies show that people feel more pleasure when they listen to sounds/music that they have heard before, that are more familiar to them (Van Den Bosch, Salimpoor & Zatorre, 2013).

2. Music’s bond to emotion: “every time I hear that music I know something bad will happen..Here come’s the shark!”

So your customer can now easily identify your brand with a particular sound/music, well done! But here comes the next step to think about. What emotions do you want to evoke in people when they listen to your sound identity?

Do you want them to feel cool and young with your music? Do you want to convey that your clients are members of an exclusive club with complex and fancy music? Or put chill music that says that everyone is welcomed to join and everybody is accepted for who they are? So many possibilities!

How will your sound identity look like?

One fact that can get you going. People tend to associate slow rhythm music to sadness and nostalgia, and fast paced songs to happiness and euphoria (Khalfa et al., 2005).

Think of the values of your brand and the message you want to convey. That’ll guide you towards a sound identity that portrays those characteristics and awakes certain emotions. It’s not a math equation, so you’ll have to try different approaches. Do focus groups, study your target audience. Do trial and error until you get it. It’ll take time but it will be worth it.

3. Sound exclusiveness: “I know who this is, it doesn’t sound like anybody else!”

You sound must be unique. It can’t sound like another brand, especially not like your competition! And for that to happen, it has to be a personalized sound, tailored to your specific needs.

The problem with some brands is that they use library music. What I mean by that is music from an online database where you purchase an already made song. You buy a cheap song, that wasn’t composed based on your brand’s values and with the additional risk that it can be used by other buyers. These libraries are often non exclusive, which means anybody can buy it and use it as they wish.

So you buy one of these tracks. You put it on an ad, that doesn’t much or resemble in any way what you did in a previous ad (message consistency) and you launch it.

Let’s imagine that another brand from a completely different sector uses the same song for their product. So now people are associating a song with two completely different products/services. “That’s weird, wasn’t that song from that car wash ad? Yes! I knew I’ve heard it somewhere before.” Nice work. How unique you’ve become!

Your brand becomes one from the lot and your chances of selling your product/service for a high price goes down the drain. One study showed that people are willing to buy more expensive wines when they perceive a place as to be exclusive. And you can change that perception just by modifying the background music.

When the wine store played classical music, people bought more expensive wine compared to when they listened the top 40 songs playlist (Areni & Kim, 1993). Classical music was considered to give fancy vibe in this context, so people adjusted to that scenario. So be aware how your music is being perceived by your customers!

Become unique. Photo by @joaojesusaudiovisual

Wrapping it up

We know that people get distracted very easily so you have to make it simple for them to get to know your brand and be drawn to become your customers.

So what you do from an audiobranding perspective is the following:

  1. Consistent message: help the customer recall your brand easily by transmitting a sound/music that always leads back to you.
  2. Bond music with specific emotions: induce the customer to feel a certain way through your music and by association to your brand.
  3. Unique sound: make your brand stand out from the competition by having an exclusive voice that doesn’t relate to anything else.

I know it’s no easy thing to achieve the above but it will give you the lead once you get working on it. There’s a great opportunity here. Sound can be a very helpful tool, you just need to begin using it.

Start now!

References:

Areni, C. S., & Kim, D. (1993). The influence of background music on shopping behavior: classical versus top-forty music in a wine store. ACR North American Advances.

Consumer Insights (2015). Attention spans. Microsoft Canada. Retrieved from
http://dl.motamem.org/microsoft-attention-spans-research-report.pdf the 4th of March of 2020.

Khalfa, S., Schon, D., Anton, J.L., Liégeois-Chauvel, C. (2005). Brain regions involved in the recognition of sadness and happiness in music. Neuroreport 16 (18), 1981–1984.

Subramanian, K. R (2018). Myth and Mystery of Shrinking Attention Span. International Journal of Trend in Research and Development, Volume 5(3)

Van Den Bosch, I., Salimpoor, V., & Zatorre, R. J. (2013). Familiarity mediates the relationship between emotional arousal and pleasure during music listening. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, 534.

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Pavle Marinkovic

Audio Branding Consultant, Psychologist, and Content Creator (7x Top Writer). Join my newsletter > https://soundawareness.substack.com/