The Power of Sound in Your Brand Experience
Our Creative Soundologist Ben Gallagher elaborates on the importance of sound and how companies can harness it to great effect.
Sound. The unseen force.
When you stop to think about it, it truly is a magical phenomena. Through the vibrations of tiny particles in the air, human beings can be moved in deeply emotional ways.
The sound of our child’s first words can bring us profound joy. The sound of a predator in the forest leaves us gripped with fear. And let’s not even get started on music, whose calculated vibrations inexplicably react with our brains in a way that can elicit seemingly any emotion at all!
Sound is powerful.
And in the right hands, that power can be harnessed to great effect for your brand experience.
At Demodern, we use technology to translate such magical phenomena into effective customer experiences. In this article, we'll highlight how and why sound is a vital tool in our process and the myriad ways our projects (and perhaps your next project?) profit from it.
From the examples above and general life experience, we all have a basic understanding of the important role sound plays in our lives. But what is the difference between “good” sound and “effective” sound in a business context?
Luckily for us, we can take some cues from the decades of research done by scientists to discover when, how, and why sound can move us the way it does.
We understand from studies done at supermarkets and restaurants, for example, that the tempo of background music has a surprisingly direct effect on customer behaviour. Faster music tends to lead supermarket shoppers to gather what they came for more quickly while slower music leads to more browsing and more spending. Similar effects were noted in restaurants, where customers were observed to spend longer eating but also pay more for their food and drinks with slow background music.
Other studies found that a musical mismatch, either in tempo, genre, or a number of other factors, can lead to unwanted consumer behaviour such as spending less, valuing a product less, or simply not buying it at all. My favourite example is from researchers who noted that retail sales in a wine store were higher when classical music played and lower when top 40 hits played. Go figure.
Next to music there is a sonic component of enormous power that each one of us carries with us every day; our voice.
Human voices carry immense metaphorical weight and communicate so much more than simply the words that are spoken. We change and are changed by the human voice in ways we mostly aren't even aware of. For example, people can tell someone is in a relationship through the way they speak with their partner and studies have shown that we are more likely to vote for political candidates who have deeper voices.
Wanting to use the power of the human voice to its fullest, we developed a uniquely emotional virtual reality experience for PETA that allows users to engage in real-time dialogue with a virtual animal and observe the world from its perspective.
Through the combination of cutting edge immersive technology and live voice acting, we were able to bring users face-to-face with the issue of animal rights in a compelling way, thus elevating this project, as many others, from sounding simply “good” to employing sound in a strategic and effective manner.
One definition of immersion is “a state of being deeply engaged or involved”. Who wouldn’t love to be able to say that about their customer’s relationship with their products?
Through the careful and focused use of sound, we bring people into the experiences we design in ways that capture their attention and keep them coming back for more. One way of doing this is by creating holistic sound concepts, i.e. guidelines that make sure all the elements of story, design, UX, etc… are supported and enhanced by the work of the audio department.
Sometimes, this manifests itself in fairly obvious ways. In our work for Edding's Wall of Fame project, it was crucial that the users, although they were writing on a digital wall with their mouse or tablet, nonetheless heard the satisfying and oh-so-nostalgic sound of an Edding marker moving across paper.
The subtle scratch, the occasional squeak; an Edding marker is a full sensory experience!
Another keyword in our work is world building. To truly make our projects magical, we need to make every moment feel natural, as if it were meant to be. As we saw earlier from the studies about music/product mismatches, sound plays a key role here and can ruin the immersion if not done properly.
When we partnered with Mutabor to create the Nature Detectives app for Migros, more than 1,000 sounds were developed to immerse children and their parents in this delightful educational experience, from biologically-accurate audio landscapes to a jazz noir detective theme.
When you create and implement a holistic sound concept to match the rest of the project, you ensure a complete and well-rounded result that users will love.
When we think of technical innovation we often think of the latest in Hollywood CGI or faster computer chips. Though it might sometimes fly under the radar, there are lots of innovative new sound technologies that can wow your audience, too!
Here are just a few ways we’ve used or featured sound in new and novel ways:
Bringing the power of a professional recording studio to customers was the name of the game in our Soundbooth project for leading streetwear retailer, Snipes. We leveraged technology to let hip-hop hopefuls in select Snipes stores record, produce, and distribute their own sick bars in studio quality, thus helping them gain access to an experience that could otherwise cost them thousands of dollars.
In cooperation with the artists at Kollektiv Turmstrasse, we created a one-of-a-kind online concert experience where users (aka guests) came together in a virtual space to celebrate the release of the album “Unity of Opposites #1”. Their avatars were able to move around freely and do digital dance moves as the DJ set was streamed live from the studio.
With the pace of technological innovation today, there is always something new and exciting on the horizon. Together with our creative experts, you can discover and utilise the potential of these new technologies in your own unique way.
Our motto at Demodern is “pushing things forward”.
In the world of sound, we help our clients blend “tried-and-true” with “oh-that’s-new!” to create experiences that amaze and delight their customers.
If you’re looking for exciting new ways to engage with your customers and want to harness the power of sound to do so, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear about your ideas, come up with some of our own, and brainstorm together to find out how the magic of technology can help your brand experience.