Audio Branding

What does your brand sound like?

There’s something very personal, usually moving, about music. For many people, it can help to set the pace of their day, as well as influence how they feel about their activities. This is the origin of marketing plans involving sonic strategy – that is, the sound of your brand. As it turns out, what your brand sounds like can make a big difference to not only who comes through your door, but if they buy or if they have a good experience they’ll tell their friends about.

The Many Effects of Music on Your Customers

Although you certainly don’t want to be manipulating your customers into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do, by choosing the right sonic branding strategy, you can give them that little nudge toward purchases they may be on the fence about; in this way, sonic strategies make a lot of sense. After all, today’s retail market is still unstable and the better in-store experience you can create, the better your ability to compete against e-commerce retailers.

At Retail Radio, we know a good deal about how music can play into your customers’ buying potential. There are four main components to be considered when weighing sonic branding. Those are: customer happiness, perception of enjoyment, memory recall enhancement and buying tempo. Each of these elements work together to create an environment optimized for sales success!

Music and Customer Happiness

We all know that when you go shopping in a bad mood, you’re more likely to rush, make fewer purchases and generally spread your bad mood to other customers and workers alike. That’s why it’s so important that your store foster a happy and pleasant environment – not doing so is basically asking for long-term trouble. Music is one of the most important elements in fostering that happy feeling in each and every person who walks through your doors. Even though you can’t make everybody happy all the time, making most of the people happy most of the time should be the goal, in order to enhance your retail sales.

A paper out of the Deakin University in Australia revealed that music unequivocally does what music lovers everywhere have always believed: music makes you happy, deep down to the core. A survey of the subjective well-being of 1,000 Australians included various questions about music and musical engagement. Listening to music is clearly linked to a higher sense of well-being, and that’s definitely a good thing when you’re trying to sell more products. A person who doesn’t feel like things are going well are going to be less likely to make an impulse buy.

Intensifying Food Pleasantness

Although this study was performed using chocolate gelato, it’s fairly easy to extrapolate the potential of findings about the link between listening to preferred music styles and perceived food pleasantness to other retail areas. For example, customers might find new clothing styles or a haircut more pleasant in the presence of the right kind of music.

The fact that listening to non-preferred background music decreased customer enjoyment of various types of chocolate gelato is telling. That’s the last thing you want, really. This is where knowing your audience is so critical. If you know your ideal customer hates Opera, for example, you’ll never want to play that in your store. On the other hand, only playing music customers really enjoy might not be a guarantee for success on its own. The chocolate gelato study demonstrated an increased enjoyment level for two of the three gelato samples in the presence of preferred music.

Your sonic strategy can seriously influence your customers’ perception of your business and your product. You definitely don’t want to accidentally give them a poor impression of your shop with the wrong audio branding.

Remembering Your Business Accurately

Are you struggling to really make your brand memorable? You need more emotionally evocative music. It’s amazing what music can do to lift a mood, but as it turns out, music that your customers really enjoy can actually help them remember your brand more concretely. This is one of the easier ways to boost your ROI without spending any more money, a perfect marriage for the marketing-minded.

Psychologists at Monash University wanted to know if memory could be affected by musical tracks. So they allowed a group of people to choose two musical tracks they loved, two they had no feelings about, which were selected by others and a five-minute radio interview. Afterward, they administered a memory test. The favorite music elicited more emotion during recall, as well as helping participants to recall more details about the images they were asked to memorize.

When it comes to your branding, your sonic strategy can benefit from this information, as well. The tricky part of advertising is finding a subtle way to convey your message as briefly and as memorably as possible Employing audio branding with the right music can create strong associations, especially if you follow through and play the same type of music in your establishment as in your ads. Memory can help establish a high level of brand loyalty and even encourage your brand ambassadors to persuade others to visit you.

The Tempo of Shopping and Eating

The music you play in your store or restaurant shapes a lot more than attitudes. You can actually influence how quickly or slowly people eat or shop or how they perceive the passage of time while inside your walls. Since Millman’s study on tempo inside stores in 1982, experts have been designing commercial audio to help both consumers and store owners achieve the results they’re after. For example, when spending time in a quiet waiting room, patients tend to get bored more easily and feel like the time leading up to their appointment is dragging on much slower than it actually is. On the flipside, busy restaurants can benefit from fast tempo music that stimulates visitors to eat more quickly to make room for the next party.

An interesting study from the University of Strathclyde recorded additional findings for the study of tempo in consumer behavior in 1999. This was a field study, rather than a lab study, so while there were some problems with keeping all the variables clean, it also revealed interesting insights about customers in a real life situation. The biggest take-away from this study was that customers actually spent significantly more money when they were exposed to slow music than when they were exposed to slow music. While not wholly illogical, this was a surprise to the research team.

Finding Your Brand’s Sound

There are two vital factors to consider when you’re trying to find your brand’s signature sound. First, you need to understand the branding of your company — that is, the personality that your brand carries with it. Secondly, you must consider the personality of your perfect consumer. Are you cutting edge and want to attract older customers who might have extra money to spend, but need more time to make a decision on your electronic goods? Then you probably want music that’s both modern and slow. What about a trendy restaurant with lots of college aged diners, but few places to sit and talk? Go for fast, up-tempo music to help move visitors into and out of your shop.

Your audience should define your music as much as your branding. Studies have pointed to clear links between personality and preferred musical genres, making this one of the most important influences on your business. Choose the right music, at the right speed and volume and the ideal customer will walk through your door on a regular basis and spread tales of their excellent experience; choose the wrong sonic branding and you’ll find yourself constantly fighting to please your customers.