got vision? use sound.

Creating brand harmony

Posted by Dan Lafferty - Director of Music and Voice at PHMG on

In an increasingly saturated advertising climate, more and more brands are looking to other creative methods of promotion to get inside the heads of consumers. Music is favoured for its unique ability to break through the congested visual landscape in the most powerful, memorable way. But the importance of the right track shouldn’t be undervalued, as selecting a pre-existing song can bring with it opinions, emotions and attachments that aren’t always welcome. The true power of music is discovered through the use of a unique track – asserting real brand identity that consumers will find hard to ignore.

Using custom music in creating an audio brand is a marketing technique that companies large and small have reaped the benefits of. Telephonic giant Nokia created one of the most played tunes in history when they launched their original ringtone inspired by Gran Vals, a piece of Spanish classical music. The composition helped the Nokia name to become synonymous with mobile phones in their technological infancy. This friendly melody allowed users to forge a personal connection with their digital devices – and with the brand as a whole. Since then, Nokia has refreshed this catchy tune every other year, whilst being careful to ensure it remains distinctly recognisable to listeners across the world.

But it’s not just the global businesses that’ve drawn on the power of music to increase brand awareness and recognition. The French national railway, SNCF, noticed a lack of distinctiveness in the sound of their brand – and went on to create an audio DNA to communicate values of leadership, comfort and care. They subtly altered the rhythm, tempo and instrumentation of their music depending on the audience they were targeting – from introducing a simple whoosh of speed to signal the mobility of the service in radio ads, to bringing an element of calm and reducing the tempo to reassure passengers waiting in the station. SNCF considered every single element of their track to ensure their music consistently produced the desired effect – and this is something companies in all industries should consider. For example, the use of warm synths can bring an air of trust and relaxation that a healthcare brand would benefit from, while a boutique travel service may favour lyrical piano and emotive strings to project a sense of luxury.

Minor instrumental changes and subtleties in rhythm may not sound like branding innovations on the surface, but music triggers much deeper physical feelings than you’d expect. The connection between sound and memory has long since been studied, and has been found to significantly outlast other sensory experiences. When a listener repeatedly hears a piece of music in relation to a brand, a connection is formed that remains with them for years to come – leading to enhanced brand recognition, along with a stronger sense of loyalty and trust. Music induces emotion in a listener in a way no other medium can, and because of its global appeal, can often be more powerful than language.

Events, TV and radio are just a few of the key touchpoints through which custom music reaches the ear of consumers, with further options often going completely untapped. Brands need to consider that the more platforms that harness the power of music, the greater the impact of the track as a marketing tool. And with repeated exposure through multiple outlets, this unique piece of music becomes synonymous with the brand as a whole. The sense of synergy is heightened when sound is used in conjunction with visual indicators, as highlighted in Nielson Entertainment’s recent study. The global media research firm looked at the effectiveness of over 600 television advertisements, 500 of which included music. The research found that commercials with music performed better across key metrics including creativity, empathy, emotive power and information power. But the touchpoint that consistently carries the most captive audience is on-hold time. Here is where a brand can insert real personality – with exclusive music, complemented by relevant information that’s bound to stick in callers’ minds. And as so many businesses are yet to unlock their audio potential, this platform still retains a sense of the unexpected – making it all the powerful when used to a business’ full advantage.

A brand’s success comes when customers form a lasting connection with the company, and having your own piece of custom music is one of the most reliable methods of achieving this. When all your platforms are injected with one consistent sound, a sound that’s truly unique to you, the benefits can be seen – and heard – for years to come.

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