Is your brand a few bars short of a symphony?

How music and sound can help to capture the hearts of more customers

Is your brand fit for the fight? Of course it is.

I bet your mission, vision and values are all nailed, glued and velcroed down and that your brand promise will never ever be broken. I’m equally sure that key tints of the colour palette are in place, there’s a crystal-clear tone of voice and an x-height demilitarised zone around the logo. (I’m guessing it sits in a corner and is never reversed out of a full-colour image. Right?)

All good so far. But can you describe to yourself, your colleagues and your customers what your brand actually sounds like?

If not, why?

Visual consistency and tonally-compliant writing are your table stakes – critical yet necessary.

However, marketers looking to make meaningful connections know that well-developed sonic attributes can help their brand perform at its brilliant best.

 

Beethoven’s Dopamine Symphony

The last two decades have given us endless sonic brand triggers and a plethora of brand sound designs wide enough to make Phil Spektor’s wig spin.

But research has proven that hearing songs that we like triggers a dopamine release. And, as we all know, dopamine = pleasure. But, interestingly, even the anticipation of hearing likeable songs, or upcoming parts of songs, is enough to release dopamine in some people.

Beethoven, it’s reckoned, used anticipation expertly in many of his scores. He would define the tonic chord (look it up, don’t guess or assume), then never actually play complete versions of the tonic until the very end…finally fulfilling audiences’ expectation and letting loose a commensurate deluge of dopamine in the run-up.

Clever huh?

Now, imagine a pleasurable song happened to be your brand’s sound. All of a sudden, you’re engaging with customers on a very different, multi-sensory level. You’re making them happy. They want to hear from you. They feel positive about your brand. So they’re more likely to tell others. What’s not to like?

 

Bespoke means a better ROI

Music is beautifully abstract, yet very powerful. It’s pure escapism, guiding emotions effortlessly through major and minor tones. And it’s memorable. Why else would we claim to suffer from ‘earworms’ or use phrases like “the soundtrack of my life/year/day”?

In practical terms, music and sound can make a congress experience more memorable; they can help an edetail or other face-to-face sales piece create a more vivid experience by supporting the tone of the piece as the story develops.

So it’s amazing that marketers still randomly dive into the stock sound vault only to emerge with an unstructured cacophony which does nothing to enhance their brand. You’ll get a much better return from commissioning you’re a bespoke, tailored and unique piece of work for your brand.

There’s also the added advantage that pure sonic assets are excused the rigorous scrutiny of our friends in legal and regulatory.

 

Four watch-outs when creating sonic branding

With this in mind, creating the right sonic landscape for your brand could be the best commercial commitment you make this year. But it’s wise to beware the pitfalls. Wary treading is essential, as is the need to follow these recommendations:

  1. Commit to making sound an integral part of your brand’s architecture and devote concerted energy to getting it absolutely right.
  2. Determine the role(s) that sound will play in your brand’s presence – do you need it to support content, help lead the conversation, introduce innovations?
  3. Think carefully about the character of your brand and decide how best to reflect this in a brief.
  4. Diversify the talent you involve in your brand’s sound creation. Don’t be afraid to mix creatives, planners, colleagues and music professionals.

 

If you need any further help, my Bontempi organ is plugged in and ready to go! You hum it, I’ll play it.

 

What would Steve Jobs have said about your eDetail campaign?

I recently saw a Steve Jobs YouTube clip from the 1997 Apple worldwide developer conference. There he was, in his trademark black polo neck, perched casually on a bar stool, taking questions from the floor. There’s a good chance you might have seen it too as it’s been watched by over 6 million people.

One man in the audience stood up and said: “Mr. Jobs; you are a bright and influential man” (so far so good) but then he added, “…it’s sad and clear that, on several counts, you don’t know what you are talking about. I would like you, to express in clear terms, how, say, Java addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc…”

Essentially, what this man was saying to Steve Jobs was: “you don’t understand the technology”.

This reminded me of a recent discussion we witnessed at a meeting with one of our clients.

It centered around one of their recent eDetail campaigns. Apparently, less than 10% of reps were using the tablets the company had supplied to them.

As you can imagine, such a disappointing usage figure quickly prompted a heated debate. On one side, it was argued that “the reps clearly did not understand the platform”. Similarly, a counterpoint was made that “the marketing department weren’t developing solutions that made best use of the platform”.

The truth is that the eDetail simply wasn’t addressing the fundamental needs of the reps. They weren’t using it because it added absolutely zero value to their sales calls. Much worse, what transpired was that the eDetail was actually making their calls much more difficult than they had previously been with a print detail aid.

Unfortunately, this is an issue we’ve seen played out at a number of pharma companies. And it isn’t the fault of the marketeers or reps.

Closed Loop Marketing (CLM) platforms were conceived at a time when the internet was in its infancy. They were originally set up to realise the opportunity of the laptop computer. Companies would simply take their paper detail aid and put it onto the laptop, and, later tablets.

Now, nearly every CLM platform is really just a locally-hosted web solution which captures data and uses it to deliver a semi-personalised experience.

But ultimately, it is a restrictive, and obsolete technology. Website user experience, and supporting technologies already deliver personalised experiences that far outpace any CLM. But too many organisations have invested too much in CLM to simply admit any shortcomings and “pull out”. (The observant will have recognized this as classic loss aversion in action.)

Which brings me back to Steve Jobs.  His answer to the challenge was: “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology.” And everyone knows how well Apple grew under Steve Jobs.

Maybe it’s time more of us in healthcare marketing followed Steve Jobs’ example and paid more attention to the customer than the technology.