Music: An Effective Branding Tool

While visual branding has traditionally been the focus for organizational branding, 67 percent of Midwestern respondents in a recent study believe music is more memorable when used in marketing. The research, conducted by audio branding specialist PHMG, also measured the reactions of 1,000 U.S. consumers to a series of audio clips, finding that music can produce strong emotional reactions that may influence how a business is viewed—while subtle changes in instrumentation, style and key, and chord progression can substantially alter these perceptions.

Strings playing short, sharp notes in a major key were found to have a largely positive impact, with 89 percent of respondents associating them with feelings of happiness and excitement. A shift from major to minor key, however, provoked a sense of sadness or melancholy in 90 percent of respondents.

“This study underlines the emotional power of music and its potential for conjuring a clear picture of an organization’s values and ethos in the mind of the listener,” says Daniel Lafferty, director of music and voice at PHMG. “Our hearing is a more powerful emotional sense than our sight, so there is a clear opportunity for businesses to broaden their marketing horizons… by making better use of audio. The phone is one obvious channel where businesses should pay close attention to the sounds that customers hear, but this equally applies to radio and television advertising, videos and product sounds.”

The acoustic guitar was also found to have a generally positive impact, particularly when played in a major key, as 91 percent of Midwestern respondents found it to be caring, calm and sophisticated. In addition, the repetitive nature of high-intensity drums evokes a sense of drive, energy and motivation, while the bold, brooding feel of brass instrumentation, particularly when played in open fifths, overwhelmingly made respondents feel angry, sad or reflective.

“It is important that organizations carefully design brand audio by defining the brand values they would like to convey and ensuring the different variables are matched to these values,” adds Lafferty. “Inappropriate music can lead customers to develop negative perceptions of a brand that may prove hard to shift.” iBi

For more information about PHMG, visit phmg.com.

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