Do you remember the last time you experienced a fantastic piece of music that enthralled you or took you somewhere else? Perhaps it made you sad, or perhaps it made you smile. Whatever it was, it led you on an emotional journey; the possibility is that the experience remains.
Humans are wired to music. A great piece of music- that is, one that reaches us- triggers higher dopamine levels. This is according to researchers from McGill University, who utilized the PET scan to examine musical effects on the brain of humans.
It’s not all that surprising since audio is processed in the brain region that handles our emotions. The interaction between the auditory regions of our brains and our reward system drives enjoyment, according to research that the Journal of Neuroscience published. This is why it’s no wonder we’re so emotionally enthralled by music.
The branding industry is gaining more awareness of the connection between audio and emotions. In the past, people have been able to view branding as a visual industry. When talking about branding, people immediately begin thinking about colours and logos.
In today’s crowded market, businesses are seeking creative and innovative methods of breaking through to communicate their brand’s stories. They are realizing they have a brand new weapon that is sound.
Companies are beginning to realize the ways that sound can enhance their brands is not a new idea in any way. Brands have always understood the power of a human voice to communicate their story, for instance. A commercial featuring Morgan Freeman’s voice instantly tells you about the brand. There’s an explanation for why Mercedes employ John Hamm for their voice-overs.
We’re moving from a linear, conventional relationship between brand and sound.
A new era of sound
We’re in a new era of technology that redefines relationships in ways we couldn’t imagine even 10 years back. The lines between play and work, the office and home, and the real and virtual collide. The relationship we have with sound is transforming fundamentally.
Sound travels with us throughout time and space in this hybrid, dispersed world. No matter where we go, the sound is there to accompany us. It’s everywhere in our smartphones, cars, smart speakers, and computers. It is everywhere.
Sound has never been more prevalent than the young people who have experienced only sound at their fingers throughout the day and night. Their expectations regarding the impact of sound are more than others in their generation. It’s no surprise that recent research has shown that 70% of Gen Z consumers connect to brands via sound.
In the process of becoming a new currency capable of bringing value no matter where it is spent, it is creating synergy as sonic branding becomes an effective way to tap into the human psyche and begin conversations.
It is possible that an unintentional sound or a tone triggered this conversation. It could also be one single note. However, whatever you choose to call it, it should be remembered as a brand. It must make us feel special about it, unlike other brands within its field.
The familiar sensation
Most likely, the companies that are among the first to wake up to the potential of sonic branding are the ones whose brands help define the new era of technology.
Remember the HBO static logo that was released in the past 15 years? It’s sound, and how people felt?
There’s also Netflix. If you hear the distinctive sound, it triggers a Pavlovian reaction. You recognize the brand without ever seeing it. The sound creates curiosity. You may be in a different space at home when you hear the sound. Immediately, you’re intrigued. You would like to know what you will be watching.
Or, what happens when you switch on your computer? You can tell if it’s Microsoft or Apple just by hearing the sound. It’s a signal that says, “Something’s coming.’
A memory reflex occurs simultaneously, as it does when you write an email or post on Teams and hear the familiar, comforting ‘whoosh.’
Because it’s driven by the latest technology, which can rip apart everything in its path and then remake it again, only to recreate it over and over every day — we’re still trying to figure out the full potential of the sonic branding. Every industry and each company has a distinct point in their journey.
The role that the agency has to play
The company I work for, Landor & Fitch, recently purchased an expert sonic branding firm, Amp, to help us achieve our goals in this area. Although the technology might be brand new, the basic strategy is the same.
It starts with the understanding that each brand has its unique DNA. Then, we employ AI and other methods to determine what sounds work best for certain brands, whether a deep enveloping tone for a powerful, strong automotive brand or something airy and soft for a dessert-based low-calorie brand. We then test it and speak to customers to see how they feel after hearing it to determine the emotional connection. This is where the magic will occur, as when you listen to great music.
As momentum grows in this field, some businesses may be tempted to join the sonic bandwagon just because somebody says, “We must create some sound here.’
This is a major error. In the rapidly changing audio-visual landscape, brands need to consider using audio to be heard in the noise.
Since if it’s not used properly, it’s just noise.