Hearing is arguably one of our most powerful senses.
Take, for example, how listening to a song is almost like stepping into a time machine. It can take you back to a particular moment in history, perhaps a memorable place or event, and evoke intense feelings.
What’s more, music has also been found to help recall personal memories forgotten by those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, ultimately proving the power of sound on the human mind.
Businesses can also benefit from tapping into the psychology of sound in their marketing strategy.
Visual branding has, in the past, taken front and center when it comes to an organization assigning the marketing budget. People have become comfortable with its application and are well-versed in how it should – and shouldn’t – be used.
However, the use of audio branding by businesses is also on the rise. Audio branding works as a potent tool for promoting brand recall and reinforcing desired brand values in a customer’s mind. In fact, recent research of 1,000 US consumers by PHMG discovered 67% of respondents believe music is more memorable when used in marketing.
There is a perception that audio branding is just for large, international companies who want a sonic logo or a famous jingle like Intel or McDonalds. Yet, having an unlimited marketing budget isn’t a prerequisite.
Audio works for organizations of all sizes – from one-man start-ups to corporate giants. It helps to create a unified brand image across all customer touchpoints, making sure the organization’s audio presence matches the visual branding to help reinforce the intended company values.
While sonic logos are just one element of audio branding, by far one of the largest applications is on the telephone.
When a customer first calls a business to make an enquiry, they will rely on their sense of hearing to forge an initial impression. If an organization gets it wrong, it could prove seriously damaging. In fact, a previous study by PHMG found 59% of consumers wouldn’t give repeat business to a company if their first call was not handled to satisfaction.
Common mistakes include leaving the customer to listen to beeps, poor-quality music or even silence while they wait on hold. Essentially, this is ‘dead air’ that provides no business value, instead prompting irritation and caller hang-ups. Using audio branding can help transform this period of time into a much more positive customer interaction.
Given the implications of providing a poor-quality audio presence, it is important to follow a best-practice approach when building an audio brand for your company. Working in a similar way to visual branding, business owners should consider what image and values they want their organization to portray then work forwards, choosing sound to match the core ideals.
With music, subtle changes in instrumentation, style, key and chord progression can substantially alter what emotions and brand values are perceived by the listener. For example, a PHMG study discovered strings playing short, sharp notes in a major key made 91% of listeners feel happy or excited. Just changing from major to minor altered the listener’s emotional response, with 81% experiencing a sense of sadness or melancholy.
Often, a business will simply deploy a popular music track over the phone hoping that it will entertain the customer until the call can be answered. Yet people involuntarily attach feelings to songs making it difficult to choose one that will appease everyone. For instance, a track might have been one person’s first dance song at their wedding, conjuring up positive emotions in the listener. For another listener, the same song could represent an unpleasant time, prompting them to hang-up to avoid negative recollections.
Ultimately, how a customer will react to a track is impossible to determine. By creating brand audio from scratch, it not only helps avoid any lasting negative perceptions but by having a totally unique sound, it helps your company stand out from the crowd.
Hold time is unavoidable, even for those working out of their home. In fact, the typical US business has been found to leave customers on hold for an average of 29.83 seconds per call.
Perhaps you’re on the other line or you’re away from your desk and cannot get to the phone in time. Thirty seconds may not seem like a long time but think about how the average commercial is less than half a minute in length and can still influence buying decisions so it is important to consider what callers hear during this time.
Voice and music messages created using the company’s audio brand can help engage and entertain callers on hold while reinforcing brand values. They speak to customers on a more relevant and personal level, boosting service levels by providing them with useful information about the organization in a completely unobtrusive manner.
For example, the messages could cross-sell and upsell products, advertise current promotions or relay company information such as opening hours. They could also enhance the firm’s status as an industry leader by offering advice on related subjects or promoting any accreditations or awards the business may have won.
What’s more, 65% of Americans have said they feel more valued if they hear brand-congruent music and voice while on-hold, improving brand loyalty and providing that competitive edge.
How a company manifests itself across customer touchpoints can be the difference between business success and failure. If there are inconsistencies with visual and audio brands, it could portray the wrong brand image and values and make the organization look unprofessional, prompting customers to take their business elsewhere.
For home businesses, ensuring this is possible needn’t cost millions of dollars. Instead, simply deploying brand-congruent music and voice over their phone system can help unify the brand experience and help companies stand out from the crowd.
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