• Transform magazine
  • May 21, 2019

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Sound sidelined in brand strategy

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Sound and music rarely feature in brand strategy despite studies showing that sound elements effect viewers almost as strongly as words and images.

Steve Keller, CEO at iV Audio Agency, says, “We go to great expense to develop these verbal and visual brand identities. We trademark them and protect them. But what if these words and symbols all went away? How would you recognize brands?”

A recent study called Music Matters, commissioned by soundlounge and McKinlay Consultants, carried out in-depth interviews with a cross-section of 26 individuals from the music and marketing industries. The survey corroborated general opinion that music and sound are under-valued and under-resourced.

Steve Mullins, content director at Brand-e.biz, says, “Music and sound is the poor relation to the visual and verbal aspect of communications … probably because there is no one with specific responsibility for it.”

A more structured approach to applying sound could be beneficial. “Given the rapid expansion of transmedia and audio touchpoints, making audio an afterthought is something brands do at their own peril. Sound is powerful. Get it right, and it makes a world of difference,” says Keller.

Dr. Charles Spence, head of Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, found that when congruent sound is paired with visual communication, it increases the effectiveness of the communication by 1,107%.

The subjective and personal nature of sound and music could be responsible for its sporadic appearance in brand strategy. However, it is the emotional nature of the way that music connects with people that makes it so effective at reaching consumers.

Sound is also a universal language making it a valuable tool for global companies. It creates meaningful associations and people tend to remember sound better than words or pictures; studies show improved recall of sound cues over visual. In addition sound acts on our physiology, creating reactions in our brains and altering our perceptions.

Keller says, “Research shows that the effects of emotional engagement in advertising last much longer than pure rational positioning. We intuitively understand this, which is why we use music and sound in our advertising. Yet sound is often left to a last minute decision; an afterthought; an underscore to a campaign motif. ”

It is essential that sound is part of the brand, not the campaign; a consistent audio identity should be created and used across all sonic interfaces.

For the full Music Matters report see here.