Music is an integral part of the human experience. We have created and enjoyed music for thousands of years. And research has shown that music can strongly impact our memory, mood, and behavior in nearly every part of our lives, including shopping choices and behaviors.
It Is Important for business owners to understand how the presence of music in your stores, advertising, and other aspects of your brand can change how different demographics perceive your brand and make choices related to your goods and services. The right music can draw customers to your business, and the wrong music can turn them away.
How Music Adds Value to Your Brand
Marketing teams spend years (and a lot of money) defining a company's brand. To them, it's an important part of what makes a company successful.
If you haven't included music as part of your branding strategy, it's time to reconsider. These are just a few of the benefits tied to music and brand:
Shorter Conversion Times
Most consumers need to interact with a brand five to seven times to remember it, and something as simple as color can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. When customers know and recognize your brand, they're more likely to return.
Music taps into deep parts of our minds, and the right playlist can reinforce core aspects of your brand. A luxury shop playing slow and languid tunes is harder to forget than a shop emphasizing silence.
Customer shopping habits have changed, and few move through a traditional conversion funnel. Now, most people skip from awareness to purchase and back again. Focusing on brand awareness can help to grow conversions. Music can help.
To become a customer, people must be aware of your brand. They must also remember what your brand is about and stands for. Music makes a quick and primal connection, ensuring you stick in a customer's mind longer.
One way to approach music associated with your brand is intentional audio branding, a term coined in the 1980s. While few businesses use jingles with catchy lyrics anymore, choosing the right song from a band or hiring a company to create appropriate background music for you can be very important to the overall image of your business.
There are many benefits of intentional audio branding, such as these:
- Increased brand recognition and loyalty
- Coherent communication with your patrons
- Increased impact of visual communication like TV ads
- Differentiation from other brands
- Better recall of your brand
It is best, for the most part, to align your background music and your advertising jingles with your brand. However, you can intentionally create dissonance between some musical choices and your brand.
For example, if you need an in-store announcement to stand out, you can start with a brief musical clip with higher energy than the relaxing and meditative sounds you have been using. This will grab your customers’ attention without detracting from the overall feel of your store.
Research: How Music Works to Reflect Your Brand Personality
Several studies have followed the role of music associated with brands, from jingles to modern use of background music or prerecorded pop artists' tracks. For example, a 1989 study found that early advertising jingles were used to soften the spoken sales pitch, making the ad less intrusive and more emotionally pleasing while also engaging the listener.
The study found that, when advertising tunes were in the foreground, they could become more effective in terms of the following:
- Structure or continuity
- Lyrical language
- Establishing authority
An earlier study reported that the presence of music could make advertising more attractive to listeners or viewers than the absence of it. When effectively used, foreground and background music can make advertising more appealing.
A study from 1991 on music in film reported that background music, especially with voiceover in the foreground, could reflect the values and attitudes of a specific subculture or demographic.
It is important not to lean on stereotypes for genres associated with particular demographics (like loud electronic music to draw in teenagers), but choosing certain styles of music can influence who will be more attracted to your brand. It is important to consider what genres and styles of music your potential customers will enjoy without relying on assumptions.
To this end, researcher Jennifer L. Aaker and her team developed a scale to understand brand personality. This is defined as the set of human characteristics that are associated with brands. People who interact emotionally with different brands will associate personality traits with them, and music is one way to work with this.
In Aaker's study, five personality dimensions were used.
- Sincerity is associated with honesty, domesticity, cheerfulness, and genuineness.
- Excitement is associated with spirit, daring, imagination, and modernity.
- Competence is associated with reliability, responsibility, efficiency, and dependability.
- Sophistication is associated with glamor, pretentiousness, romance, and charm.
Similar reported traits included strength, toughness, and outdoor adventurousness.
How to Choose the Right Music for Your Brand
Understanding how music can support your brand is only part of your homework. You should also understand how to choose just the right tunes. These are good steps to take:
Dig Deep Into Your Brand
Three dimensions should be considered when you select music for your brand.
- Fit: Does your selected music fit with how you want to present your brand? For example, energetic music will work better in a gym than in a spa.
Lyrics can certainly impact how your patrons view your business, but the tone, tempo, and composition have a substantial, subconscious effect on how your business is perceived.
Picking music for your store or advertising that matches your brand identity can improve customers' ability to remember your establishment through their emotional attachment. The subconscious effect of music is called the halo effect, in which sound and other cues like smell and lighting are not assessed separately but collectively as one experience.
- Function: Sound greatly impacts the brain's pleasure and stress-control centers. People listening to energetic music will want to move more due to increased activity in the brain. People listening to soothing music will have slower breathing and heart rates and move slower as a result.
Do you want your patrons to feel more relaxed in your space? Or should they move faster and feel more excited? This is tied to your brand and the products or services you offer.
- Semantics: Determine the deeper meaning and purpose of specific song choices. Certain keys or harmonies are associated with emotional experiences in the western world. Tapping into them can give your songs emotional depth.
Assess the Competition
Visit your top competitors and listen to their in-store music selections. Take note of artists, genres, tempo, and volume. Check out the customers, and notice if they're enjoying the music or complaining about it.
Your goal isn't to mimic your competition. You want to express your brand, not theirs. But seeing what others are doing can help you understand how to stand out.
Start With a Preprogrammed Playlist
Partner with a company like Cloud Cover Media, and you'll have access to dozens of playlists packed with songs you and your customers will love. Find a vibe that seems just right, and launch it in your store. Watch for reactions.
If your customers and staff are happy right away, great! If not, mix in another channel, block specific artists, and otherwise make the sounds your own.
Pay Attention to Specifics
There are other aspects of music you should consider alongside personality as well. For example, did you legally license the music? Are any explicit lyrics managed so your brand image will not be disrupted? Can you link your advertising music to a playlist for different storefronts?
Several approaches to these questions must be considered after you determine how you sonically wish to represent your business.
24 Vital Branding Statistics: Need to Know Info for Marketers. (May 2022). Zippia.
To Convert More Customers, Focus on Brand Awareness. (October 2019). Forbes.
Bridging the Gap Between Visual Brand and Audio Brand. (June 2017). Audiodraft.
Dimensions of Music: The Effect of Music/Brand Congruity on Advertising and Brand Evaluations. (2008). University of Michigan.