Audio Branding

Audio Branding is the term given to the marketing art of associating brands, products or companies with music or sound to increase sales.

Its one of subtle aspects of marketing that is often over looked and when got right is deadly effective while be almost unnoticeable. Audio branding can be broadly divided into two area’s – Inclusive and exclusive.

Exclusive Audio Branding is a very unique and interesting execution of a brand strategy. My favorite example would be Aber Crombie and Fitch who’s stores are designed to exclude a large percentage of the population hence prolonging their popularity as an “in” product with a very fickle age cohort. If you walk into the A&F store across from the Trump Tower in New York you are likely to be instantly greeted with 3 sensations.

1. Sight – The First thing your eye’s will see is a ridiculously attractive model – often a male with their top off. Then your eye’s adjust to the fact that it’s very dark akin to a nightclub atmosphere.

2. Sound – Pumped out of every corner is a very loud vocal house music with a touch of electro thrown in. If you not in the cohort that hits the trendiest of clubs that plays this music then you will find this a very surreal and uncomfortable place to be in and look for the door.

3. Smell – The signature A&F aftershave is pumped into the air to make you very aware that this is no ordinary store.

So why would a brand go to such lengths to keep certain customers from buy?

Well actually it makes sense. There is nothing uncooler to the teenage / early twenties age group than a brand leakage that leads to having “older” “uncool” and in general people who don’t fit into their image of the brand. As soon as the 16 year old sees their parent or teacher supporting a brand it takes the brand away from them.

The message is clear, if you don’t like dark atmospheres and very loud night club environments then the A&F brand isn’t for you – please don’t shop here! Counter Intuitive but very very effective. Others thrive on being in the environment and spend even more time in the store & money on the products to become a part of the happy, dancing and attractive image that is A&F

So what is inclusive Audio Branding?

Have you ever wondered how effective music is on making sales? Did you notice that supermarkets play slow mellow music so that you take your time shopping hence increasing your impulse buying and total spend? My favorite example is from Martin Lindstrom:

In one experiment over a two-week period, British researchers played either accordion-heavy French music or a German brass band over the speakers of the wine section inside a large supermarket. On French music days, 77% of consumers bought French wine, whereas on German music days, the vast majority of consumers picked up a German selection. Intriguingly, only one out of the 44 customers who agreed to answer a few questions at the checkout counter mentioned the music as among the reasons they bought the wine they did.

The facts are incredible, people make feeling judgments and their feelings are influenced by things around them.

Is audio branding deceptive or immoral?

No! The idea of influencing a decision is what marketing is all about. We sell not to deceive but to enhance the customer experience. Whether you choose to influence or not with it, sound will influence. Some may say its noise pollution, but i would strongly disagree based on the fact that by having no sound at all this will also effect and influence customer decisions.

In conclusion audio branding is an important part of marketing, to ignore it won’t go away. For those shops / cafes who play a local radio station with no regard to its effects on customers – be it positive or negative there is an effect; worse still the outcome is usually based on a decision made unknowingly. Since there is a profound effect make a conscious decision and consider the auditory marketing as important as any visual marketing aspect.

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