We wouldn’t accept a bad smell or dirt in a shop or an office, but bad sound is okay. Why is it acceptable to pollute the world with noise?
Every space and room where your brand is present is part of your branding. You tickle people’s senses and they get a feeling for who you are and what you stand for. All organisations make sound. Everywhere from receptions, offices, meeting rooms, canteens, exhibition halls and conference rooms we hear and feel a brand.
Julian Treasure, business sound expert, says: ‘The most common sound in receptions in the UK is the sound of Sky News. A missed opportunity, why not share a video with a story about your brand instead?’
In the book Sensory Marketing you will read that sight is the sense that dominates marketing and that the other senses--smell, hearing, touch and taste--have been neglected for a long time. Instead of focusing on sight, brands can invoke all the senses to create stories and design experiences that will connect with people and make the brand more memorable.
So what does your brand sound like: a relaxing spa experience or a noisy bar? Organisations pay little attention to the sound they make. The majority of all design aspects in marketing are there to please the eye.
Definition Of Noise
Noise is defined as unwanted sound, and what is unwanted is different for all of us. Brands can to some extent choose where to be seen and how to use the sound that’s there. Can you improve the sound and ambience of your office environment? Is a billboard or exhibition stand in a noisy place as efficient as one somewhere calmer?
Your brand will always connect better with people in a calm place than in an environment that makes peoples’ heart rates increase and cortisol spread in their bodies. And the only person who can take responsibility for how your brand sounds is you.
The Sound Of The City
Let’s walk down the high street. Living in a city you experience hundreds of stressful moments every day. There is traffic, queues in shops and the phone rings at the most inconvenient moment. Brands that organise their setting to make you feel calm stand out. It’s as if they communicate on another level. They make you want to stay in their shop and listen to their message.
Sounds can add value to buildings and visual displays and awaken people’s curiosity. But the opposite applies as well.
Many brands still play music when background noise is already very loud, but music over noise only means more noise.
Have you ever been to a conference in a modern building made of glass and steel? This kind of buildings can be noisy and it can be hard to actually have a conversation in there.
To get a building to be more functional Treasure says: ‘Architects need to design with their ears as well. More sound absorbing furniture can make a huge difference.’
Where you choose to have your business meetings affects the outcome. If you are at a conference and are having an informal meeting during which you are distracted by outside chatter you won’t be able to communicate complex information in an effective way. Imagine how big the loss in attention, memory and creativity is in situations like this.
Learning From Artists
Many artists use sound in their installations and marketers have a lot to learn from them. In 2013-2014, sound artist Robert Jarvis introduced sound installations to the high streets of two UK seaside towns; Cliftonville in Margate and Broadstairs in Kent. When you walked down these streets you heard the song of nightingales. The method he used to achieve this was loudspeakers hidden in shop windows. People walking down the street couldn’t figure out exactly where the sound was coming from.
Retailers who were involved in the project reported that there was less crime and less rude language in their street during the project. Was this because you are in a different mood when listening to bird song? Probably, yes. You can download and read the full project evaluation report here.
Stressful and noisy environments make it hard to make decisions. If a place is too noisy your customers will leave quickly. We live in a loud world and who has the energy to be in a place that makes you feel more stressed?
If you are serious about creating the right kind of ambiance for your brand, doing a sound and noise audit can be a good start. A first step could be to collect data about how your brand sounds. How does your brand sound compared with your competitors? Would you like to spend more or less time in your building, office or shop?
Treasure points out that most branding guidelines have zero pages about sound; most of these guidelines are focused on how the brand looks. Marketers have great opportunities to use sound in video and audio platforms and make more of all branded spaces.
Brand Sound Tips:
- The ambiance of your brand is multi-sensory.
- People who connect with your brand will remember how you made them feel, not just what you tried to tell them.
- Ask yourself how your brand should sound. Then listen and see what it really sounds like.
- If you want your customers to listen to you, you need to send out a message that’s not destroyed by noise.
- When you use sound to connect with your customers you are focusing on a long-term strategy.