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When it comes to branding, companies mainly focus on the visual aspect. For example: company logos, engaging visual advertisements, and billboards. However, it is also important to consider the value of music and how it could help to grow your business.
Music can be a very powerful tool in influencing consumer behaviour. It can also affect our thoughts and emotions. A research study conducted in the UK examined how music could influence customer decisions in a wine shop. On each day, the wine shop played either French or German background music. The findings revealed more French wine was sold on the French music days and more German wine was sold on the German music days. This indicates that music does have an influence over customer behaviours and thus could be a great way to increase sales of certain items!
Stores should aim to choose appropriate background music that could enhance sales and lead to people staying in the store for longer periods of time.
Another study found that children with behavioural issues learned maths at an increased rate when listening to relaxing sounds. This shows that music can have an effect on a range of behaviours including learning.
Developing a sound for your brand can increase brand awareness and sales. Try to avoid purely focusing on visual branding and think about your audio choices and how the music will resonate with consumers. An example is the TV adverts by white goods retailer AO.com, they incorporated the song ‘Hey! Oh! Let’s Go!’ into their adverts which sounds like ‘AO Let's Go’ when you listen to it. The song is upbeat and catchy, and the aim is that each time people hear the song they will think of AO. And this could, in turn, increase their sales.
When companies select a sound for their brand they often decide to change the music every few years. Whilst this gives the audio branding a fresh start, it can also make brands lose their identity and mean consumers will not be as aware of them.
To avoid this, brands can aim for sonic branding, which is audio that is consistent and does not dramatically change. If a brand keeps the same audio but adds minor variations or tweaks, then customers will instantly recognise the brand when they hear the specific audio. Keeping the music consistent strengthens a brand's identity and could increase sales.
One great example of sonic branding comes from Walt Disney. They have developed the brand's identity using the iconic castle logo and the instantly recognisable music to accompany this. Close your eyes and listen to the music in the video below – you will instantly know that a Disney film is about to start. And that is the power of sonic branding, by keeping the music consistent Disney has created a strong brand identity where audiences will immediately recognise a Disney film just by listening to the music.
You can also be creative with sonic branding by making small tweaks to the music. Disney has done this for many of their films and they also change their visuals to complement this. Watch the videos below to see how Disney makes small changes to its signature music.
A decision that needs to be made when sonic branding is whether to choose an existing mainstream song or whether to create your own sound. Research by Gail Tom found that specially created audio for a brand is more successful than existing music in terms of brand recognition and memory of the brand. This indicates that music unique to your brand resonates more with consumers. Many brands create their own sounds including NBC who have the well-known chime audio to accompany their logo.
As we have seen above there are many ways that audio can help your business, whether it is increasing store sales with background music or strengthening brand identity through sonic branding. Using audio is well worth thinking about as it could lead to a stronger customer base and increase sales for your business.
Brainfluence (Roger Dooley)
Journal of Consumer Marketing (Marketing with Music - Gail Tom)