Matching Music to Your Brand

Music can boost a brand’s performance. From brand image perception, to message retention and actual purchasing behavior instore, music is known to have a big influence. This is not just something we found in our own business, although we did. It is actually backed up by a significant body of scientific studies that have been conducted ever since the eighties until today.

It is not just a matter of turning on the radio and watching your sales skyrocket though. The wrong music can actually hurt your business, just as much as the right music can boost it. A crucial element in finding the right music for your business, is matching it to your desired brand image. This is what is called Audio branding or Sonic branding. In this article, we serve up a number of ways to do so, effectively.

Method 1: Ask an expert

You know your brand best. And if you happen to be a big music lover, you might feel you know best how to translate your brand image into music. Keep in mind though, that audio branding encompasses a lot more than a knowledge of music. It is the art of capturing the essence of a brand, and translating it into music that is suitable for all touch points. Every specific touch point, be it in-store, on-line, in advertising, has its own particular demands and particularities.

The easiest way to meet these challenges, is by asking an experienced professional for help. A good audio branding pro is able to translate a central brand image, into the right music for the touch point you are looking to enrich musically. They are able to think beyond personal taste, and look at how music conveys an image. Needless to say, when it comes to instore, Storeplay Radio is the expert to ask!

Not every marketeer or formula manager out there is willing to just rely on an external expert though. If you prefer to talk about music in marketing terminology and maybe even measure the degree to which the music matches your brand, there are other options;

Method 2: Archetyping

Archetypes are characterizations, based on two opposing scales: stability versus change and belonging versus independence. Around these two axises, you can draw a circle with twelve sections, all representing a particular balance between the two scales. These are called Archetypes. You can apply these to people, just as well as you can apply them to brands.

A brand will, most often, recognize either one or two archetypes as most fitting to their ambitions. The more complex a brand is, the more likely it is to contain elements of two or even three archetypes. That’s perfectly fine. The important thing, is to identify where in the circle you feel your brand should be. If you Google “Brand archetypes” you will find more elaborate descriptions of each archetype, to help you choose.

The great thing is that archetypes are very easy to translate into music. Would the rebel play the biggest pop hit of the season? Would the care giver play Eminem? The creator and the sage require more edgy and unexpected music than the leader and the pragmatist. The hero might benefit from something bombastic and powerful like dubstep or rock. The intimate would be much better represented by something small and sweet, such as an acoustic singer songwriter or contemplative piano music.

As you can see, we have managed to use the archetype as a medium, to discuss music more objectively. You can now make free associations between archetypes and music, without having to resort to personal preferences.

Method 3: Brand value matching

If the archetypes still don’t quite cut it for you, you can apply brand value matching. The key is to identify a set of characterizations that represent your brand. Most brands have their core values, these could work, as long as they are specific enough.

A more thorough approach would be to take a well researched brand model, such as Aaker’s brand personality scale, and score your brand on the provided values. This results in an objective description of your desired brand image. One you could even plot graphically for quick reference.

The next step is to look for music that represents the same values. You have now turned it into a puzzle of sorts. If your brand is very masculine, not too sophisticated, and highly contemporary, we can go looking for music that represents these values.

The next level: Panel testing

Ideally, you do not base your choices on your own ideas, but on the effect the music has on your actual target audience. To this end, it could be a good idea to present an online panel with, for instance, three alternative music styles and ask them to score the music. You can do this based on the archetypes, on your core values or on a model such as Aaker’s personality Scale. “To what degree would you rate this music as masculine?”

You can then actually measure the degree to which music matches your brand, in the ears of your target audience. You will be empowered to make decisions, based on quantified data and deep insights. And you can rest assured the resulting music will have the desired impact and boost the performance of your business!

Storeplay Radio will gladly help you apply the right techniques for your particular business, to make sure you reap the maximum benefits of music.