Measuring Music: The Impact of Sounds on Brand Loyalty

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For brand marketers, the sound of music might be the chime of a cash register. In fact, 96% of consumers are more likely to remember a brand if it is paired with music that fits the brand identity. And 24% are more inclined to purchase items linked with music they remember and enjoy, a study conducted by Leicester University professors Adrian North and David Hargreaves found.

A well-chosen piece of music can help create “sonic branding” – a sound that triggers a link to a product and name, services or benefits, according to Ruth Simmons, managing director of songseekers, a music consultancy.

Take computer chip maker Intel, which more than a decade ago launched its Pentium chip with a five-note melody. That little ditty became an integral part of the chip’s advertising. At the height of its promotional campaign, an Intel commercial was played somewhere every five minutes, writes Simmons. The tone was an integral part of each ad.

“The financial investment [to purchase these advertising spots] for the brand to get this level of consciousness is enormous in relations to the cost of the creation and production of these few notes,” writes Simmons.

But return on investment – even if the investment is small — assumes the music is well chosen. “While brands invest a huge amount of resources on market research, current investigation involving music still just tests lifestyle or what the consumer likes or remembers,” writes Simmons. “Of greater value to a music strategy would be understanding the way consumers hear and process music and how this influences the depth of emotional response to the brand and how that impacts on the music ‘stickiness’ to the product.”

Simmons offers three considerations for brand marketers wishing to evaluate incorporating music into their campaigns.

1. Create a music strategy that answers the following questions: How can/do we manage music acquisition across different geographies? What will be the ROI on music expenditure, and what are the measurable benefits? How can we develop a strong sound to our brand that we can leverage in other areas of marketing? How will the use of music affect the overall value of the brand? How can music help us reach our target consumers and/or penetrate a new market?

2. Brand campaigns should choose music that reflects the product or service. The choice should be made on a deeper level than “find me something uplifting that will appeal to women between the ages of 25 and 49” or “make us cool, quickly.” Without this, any measurement of music on a campaign will not accurately demonstrate its impact.

3. Remember that marketers need to appreciate the type of music consumers actually associate with their brand, as opposed to the sounds they want to project. Simmons cites McDonald’s attempt to bribe rap musicians to tout its products in their songs. The campaign didn’t fly: Virtually no popular rapper went along with the program, and while McDonald’s got a public relations boost, it didn’t get the music/product association it wanted.


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