There are three things to keep in mind when choosing music for your brands and franchises:
- Your clients or customers
- Your brand identity
- Proper licensing
Know Your Audience
The first is to think about your client base — specifically, the music that they like to listen to when they’re out shopping or otherwise engaging with your business. In other words, you should use music that influences and sets your customers’ moods, and this comes from knowing who your target audience is.
Conduct surveys or other polling to find out their age, their average income bracket, their education level, and anything else that will point you toward the kind of music that appeals to them. The music you play will affect their perception of you, and this should be a big part of your franchise branding and market strategy.
If your brand is designed to reach younger consumers (the prized 18 to 34 demographic), you might want music that has a little more energy to it.
Similarly, if your brand is based on encouraging your guests to stay healthy, calming, and low-volume music has been found to compel people to buy healthier foods.
On the other hand, if your brand is less focused on health and more on taste, you might consider high-volume music, which has the effect of getting people more excited for the experience ahead of them and perhaps less concerned about healthy options. Think about the music you might hear at a sports stadium, for example, compared to what would be playing in the background of a vegan café or another more health-conscious establishment.
The right background music can bring people into your store and keep them there. The wrong music will likely (and literally) keep them away.
How Music Sets the Scene
Past research has found that fast tempo music does not pair well in a crowded shopping mall. Customers reported feeling uncomfortable, like they were being pushed into making their purchases quickly and then getting out. Slower-paced music, on the other hand, tends to balance out the energy of a high-traffic storefront, subtly encouraging customers to stay longer.
If your brand is based on making customers feel relaxed and calm, you want the music you play to reflect that.
Researchers discovered that soft pop, smooth jazz, classical, and certain forms of folk music and world music were best suited to attract and keep customers in a store. For example, many yoga studios play ambient or world music to create the environment that puts patrons in the right frame of mind to practice yoga.
This can work in reverse too. If you find that your space is not as crowded as you would like, playing up-tempo music can promote a sense of excitement and interest, and it can be what brings people in. This kind of music can also prompt guests to make more impulse buys.
Audio Brand Identity
The second thing to keep in mind when choosing music for your brand is to intrinsically know your brand identity. The identity of a brand is defined by all the different things you actively and passively do to get your target audience in the front door of your business.
Visual brand identity is found in your logo, typeface, colors, and graphic design. But there is also an audio brand identity, which is less talked about.
No matter how strong your product or service is, having the wrong audio brand identity will quickly turn guests off your store.
It is not dissimilar to how political campaign advertising uses licensed music to promote not just a particular candidate, but also the values that the candidate wants to be identified with. As you consider branding for your franchise, think about the music you want guests to associate with your store and what your brand represents.
Licensing Music for Your Brand
A good brand will try to use unique music instead of stock recordings. Stock music is designed to not leave an impression, but good audio branding aims to create an impression on your guests. You want them to remember how they felt when they walked into your store.
You’ll have to pay more to license the use of the music or pay a service to create music for you, but the investment is a good one. You will create an identity for your brand that no one else can.
All music you play in your store or on anything associated with your business (like your website) must be properly licensed. A personal license, like the one you get for your personal Apple Music or Spotify account, won’t cut it. You need commercial licensing to play music in your business.
Many businesses have been fined tens of thousands of dollars because it was discovered that they did not obtain proper permission to stream recorded music on their premises. But if you have an account with a music for business streaming service, like Cloud Cover Music, you are fully covered.
When you craft playlists for your store or business, the end result is that your guests will automatically associate certain types of music with your brand. If customers hear that music on their personal Spotify playlists later, they will think of your franchises.
Choosing Music for Your Brand & Franchise
When you choose the right music for your brand and your franchise, you can create a sound environment where your guests feel invited and welcomed. Having a unique audio strategy is a bedrock for providing a positive brand association between your customers and your business.
Should every franchise play the same music? Generally, yes. You want your brand to be recognizable wherever it is and to provide the same (or similar) experience to your guests wherever they find you.
Certain business-focused music streaming companies will give you the hardware and software to create (and curate) a single playlist that is pushed to all your franchises, providing uniformity for your brand.
Why Music Plays a Big Role When It Comes to Branding. (February 2014). Forbes.
The Interaction of Retail Density and Music Tempo: Effects on Shopper Responses. (May 2005). Psychology and Marketing.
Marketing and Advertising to 18 to 34 Year Old Adults. Why? (September 2017). LinkedIn.
Music May Influence Your Food Choices as Well as Your Mood. (March 2021). Psychology Today.
I’ve Heard That Brand Before: The Role of Music Recognition on Consumer Choice. (April 2022). International Journal of Advertising.
How to License Music for Commercial Use. (November 2020). LinkedIn.