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On Marketing: Build Your Brand With Sound

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On Marketing: Build Your Brand With Sound

What noise does your business make?

BY SHANE DECKER

Published in the June 2013 issue.

You can close your eyes, but not your ears. The ability to reach people in a way that feels less conspicuous is an incredibly powerful means to convey a memorable message to a targeted group of consumers, which in turn will help recall with your name and brand.

Through audio branding (sometimes referred to as sensory or sonic branding), it’s possible for the consumer to create an identity with a particular sound so that when they hear it, they will connect that auditory identity with your business, product or service.

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One way to use sound is in sonic logos. Often called “sogos,” these elements can be very effective in connecting a brand that one may not be able to visualize with a sound they might be familiar with. Therefore, sogos bring the brand alive. There is a lot of research as to what types of instruments and at what pitch evokes different moods for listeners. Since the association is one that will be heard over and over — and not changed, proper selection is required.

For example, you may forget what the Intel logo looks like, but you won’t forget the musical tones associated with the company. When you think of Starbucks, you undoubtedly associate jazzy tunes with the coffee giant. You feel the familiarity the sound evokes.

He felt his music evoked a hip vibe. But a customer told him it reminded him of ’70s porn.

But what message is being conveyed to customers by this musical selection and how does it affect the emotional connection to the brand? First, there’s a feeling of sophistication, which in turn creates an experience. People can buy coffee at McDonald’s or a nearby gas station but there’s something inherently different about going to a Starbucks that makes people willing to spend more. That “something” isn’t the jazz, but what the jazz communicates on an emotional level.

You can use sound in ads, your on-hold message or background music in the store. People are willing to wait longer when there’s background music, and in retail environments, background music can have a direct relationship with consumer buying behavior.

While it may seem benign to choose the music that plays on your on-hold message or in your store, select carefully. For example, a friend once set his on-hold music selection to lounge music. He felt it evoked a feeling of sophistication with a modern hip vibe that would translate well for his store. One customer approached him and told him it reminded him of ’70s porn. He changed it.

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Unless you have the right equipment, you will likely need a consultant to create a sonic logo that will reflect your business effectively. As far as specific sounds that can work for your business, different pitches and tones can have very different results. Take note of the use of sound with logos around you and discover what and why some sounds work (and have staying power) while others do not.

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