By Ruth Simmons, (pictured) Managing Director of soundlounge, a music consultancy that are specialists in working with brands to understand, develop and implement the ‘sound of the brand’ in commercial environments.
It seems that marketers have now recognised that consumer purchases need to be weighted towards emotional effects over functional benefits.
Whilst music is a powerful medium that can help bring the emotional qualities of products and services to life, it can also distil a complex social message to its essence.
Music has the innate ability to connect at a profound and human level with an honesty that cannot be contrived. Responsible brands are beginning to recognize this.
According to Music Therapists, Nordoff Robbins: “From the pulse and rhythm found in our heartbeat, breathing and movement, to the melody that is created in our laughing, crying, screaming or singing, music is an intrinsic part of who we are.
“These intimate connections with music can remain despite disability or illness, and are not dependent on a musical training or background.”
The challenge with music is that it is ubiquitous. We are literally bombarded with external melodies, rhythms and lyrics all-day and everyday.
So why are some songs more important to us than others; why can we remember every lyric to a particular artist and not others; cry to some songs, or simply want to just get up and dance as the opening notes reveal themselves?
If music evokes emotion then understanding emotion and the ways that each and every one of us experiences the ‘same’ emotion, is almost as complex as the ranges of emotion that make up the individual and their personality.
There are four basic emotional and psychological stages we experience when we listen to music:
1) As the music plays, we hear something and on a basic level recognise that there is a sound.
2) Next, we move from hearing to listening. Within a few seconds the brain starts to looks for values and events that we associate with similar experiences to those sounds – markers that we know and have experienced before.
3) It is in that moment, when we make a connection to those markers, that we start to respond – we exhibit an emotional response.
4) When the triggers are familiar, the emotional response is intensified and if that is powerful enough we will start to experience a physicality to the sounds; hairs stand up on the back of our neck, we get up, we tap our feet, we dance.
The whole process takes nano seconds. Great music producers understand this and give us the distinctive markers to hang on to so that when we hear that track again, we respond like Pavlov’s dogs to a particular hook or rift.
It would appear that the more we hear the marker, the faster the response time.
If building brand loyalty is about positively reminding consumers of the values of their products, then using music that has positive markers becomes more critical.
When a brand consistently uses music that truly resonates with all other positive aspects and values of their branding - and also makes their customers feel good - they have a head start in beginning to build real value from their music investments.
Brands are reputed to be spending $10billion a year on market research at a global level and music is still acknowledged as being at least 50 per cent of the stimulus in a commercial film (John Hegarty Creative Director of BBH).
Yet modern market research about music is still generally limited to likes and dislikes memorability and brand recall.
New research (not yet published) by Dr Rentfrow is indicating that there are music age watersheds in an individual’s life; times when we are finally honest with our internal musicality.
Times when we rise above peer pressure and social conditioning and we turn to the music that we really like, because it actually resonates with our own physiology.
Is this the level of perception and understanding that we as marketers need to strive for?
Maybe it is here where we will begin to understand the triggers that will connect to real customer buy-in and loyalty.
The science of this area of research is young but the potential is huge.
Understanding the way consumers authentically and genuinely interact with music and applying that knowledge in our communication platforms may be the way forward to music playing a real and more useful role in marketing, better ROIs and ultimately happier FDs.
Now that’s something to get emotional about.
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