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The Science of Sound: Three Considerations for Your Brand

How can brands create the ‘perfect sound’?

Today, with brands increasingly jostling to stand out from the rest in a crowded market, music is one of the best ways to resonate with customers. Its role can unlock new in-store opportunities – a curated soundtrack can reinforce particular messages the brand is trying to convey and demonstrate a brand’s personality.

While in-store sound systems can’t directly influence sales, it can make the shopping experience far more enjoyable. Have you ever been to a silent store? The atmosphere is usually uncomfortable, and will only lead consumers towards a friendlier, more welcoming one.

Music is a key, if not underrated, element in a brand’s persona. The subliminal influence of sound design is widely acknowledged as a highly powerful and swaying tool in the shopping experience.  But attempting to formulate the ‘perfect sound’ can be a tricky negotiating act. How do you strike the right balance between brand, audience and atmosphere?

There are many elements that brands can consider when producing the perfect playlist and soundscape to enhance the customer experience. Here’s three considerations to put you on the right path and find that balance. 

  • Sound creation needs to reflect a brand’s personality

Some of the most iconic brands in the world have soundbites that immediately – wherever you are – convey their personality in a nutshell. Think Netflix, ASDA or EA Sports. The same notion can be translated into the wider in-store experience and accompanying sound design.

Brands need to think about their personas and what they want to embody. The curation of music, from song choice to vibe, should immediately strike a tone with the customer. It could be smooth background music, creating a calming and sensual presence that reflects the nature of the brand. Or, it could be intentionally audible and upbeat, offering beats to get the customer excited for their in-store experience.

If it’s not in fitting with the brand’s identity or product, it will simply jar and create a disjointed experience. Many shops still play random song selections or no sound at all. If it encapsulates who you are, it will increase time spent in store and entice both newcomers and returners.

Not only does it mean the customer gets what the brand is trying to do, but it also means you’re more likely to attract the customers whose personalities match up with the brand. The result means you’re much more likely to strike a sale. 

  • Think about the target audience

This reflection of a brand’s personality needs to harmonize with the target audience – and,  of course, it often does by default. But sound can be designed and adapted as necessary, depending on certain campaigns or particular drives to hit certain demographics.

Again, it’s all about uncovering that balance. You need to hone in on who is the target audience, and also think about the in-store audience versus the online audience.

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How much overlap is there?

Do you want to encourage younger audiences into shops who might otherwise steer clear?

Are you trying to create an atmosphere that can cater for as many people as possible?

Or, do you want to maintain a niche appeal to your target audience?

Answering these questions will dictate how general or specific the sound design will be. You can even target specific areas of the store with different sound aspects, helping to draw different audiences into different sections. 

  • Consider the time, date and season

With sound design to match personality and audience nailed down, you then need to create processes to keep your music adaptable and fresh.

People’s moods change between the seasons, month to month and even over the course of the week. It’s worth devising a strategy for each concept: a morning ambience versus an evening one, ‘Monday vs Friday’, or even the weather. Making tweaks to match time of day or week, whilst subtle, can help to match the mood of your target audience.

Of course the seasons bring with them a broader and more collective change. While people have their core personality traits, likes and habits, these adapt and evolve depending on whether it’s summer, winter or particular celebratory events, for example. So too, then, can brands’ personalities.

There are the obvious major holidays like Halloween and Christmas. But if there’s a specific upcoming music or sport event, album launch or art installation that matches your brand personality and audience, then it’s well worth creating a sound design to complement this. Unexpected links can really resonate with the customer.

Perfecting the science of sound

There’s an array of exciting possibilities for how sound can enhance the in-store experience. Shopping is multi-sensory, and sound is a vital – if not sometimes overlooked – component to the in-store experience. The more you can reflect your brand’s personality, the more you can establish and define who you are. The right sound design can not only add to this, but help create it.

And there’s a science to it. Tap into who you are, who your target audience is and cater this to time, seasonal trends and the latest events, and you can begin to amplify the brand message. These are just three considerations. But, taken on board, they can help release a whole new shopping experience.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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