June 12, 2010

Sounds like branding

To use music in connection with branding is not a new thing and everyone will instantly recognize the jingles or sound logos of Coca-Cola or McDonalds. However this is only a small portion of the great opportunities that music has to offer to brands and that brands have to offer to music.

The recent book “Sounds like branding” by Jakob Lusensky, a Swedish DJ and executive at the branding agency Heartbeats International, focuses in on the opportunities and potential value creating prospects in the intersection of music and brand identity.

He looks at this from two ways, both that the brands by for instance through offering music CDs in the stores, as Starbucks, increases the distribution channels and for some even cuts out the record labels fully. The other aspect, which I find much more intriguing, is how brands can tap in to the credibility value built up by the artists, both directly to their fans and also more generally in society.

The four Es
Music is of course only one of the ways in which a brand can take a more strategic approach to its brand image, and as Jakob puts it:

“Music is something that people connect with, enjoy discussing and sharing with others. Music preference relates to and can reveal a person’s personality. Brands are becoming aware of the possibility to emerge as an ambassador of this social media, the positive effect it can have on their brand image, and how it can attract the attention of people in product and brand marketing.”

He bring in the concept of the four “Es”; Emotions, Experiences, Engagement and Exclusivity to position a brand and guide it in their efforts to collaborate and connect with fans and customers. A concept he uses to guide us through the book.

Consumers become fans
The interesting transition where the consumer more and more becomes a fan to a brand, is something that we already have seen with for instance Apple. The computer hardware company has since the launch of iPod, [video pres with Steve J] become more of a movement with dedicated fans being both advocates of the brand but even more so committed followers of a lifestyle where the white headphones just are one of the style signifiers.

Package a feeling
One of the things that I find especially interesting with this book is how a brand can capture and communicate the core values or feelings that is connected to the brand identity. Jacob Luensky exemplifies with the hotel chain Clarion Hotels which put together a soundtrack to be played in the lobbies and also via the internal sound system in the hotels. A representation of this soundtrack was then sold on a CD for the customers to bring back home.

One other example of a customized music and branding experience is Absolute’s “Sound of Ice” radio channel that Absolut Ice Bars are playing, irrespectively where in the world you are. It was created to give the bar goes a consistent and enhanced experience in all their locations.

The book
To say something more specific about this book which was sent to me for review, I find it interesting but slightly too focused on the processes that a brand should use when thinking about introducing music in to the branding mix. This is however not that surprising since I understand it as a way for Heartbeats international to inform about their services.

As a brand owner or artist, either thinking about these issues on a daily basis will find the book highly useful For the rest of us, more generally interest in the concept, the two white papers on the book’s homepage will bring you far along the way.

White paper 1 - Social music revolution
White paper 2 - Sounds like branding

Johan Orneblad
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