The subconscious power of sound – Adding music to your marketing mix

DSC01950This is a really different topic for us; in this guest post PH Media Group Director of Voice and Music Dan Lafferty explains how sound forms a powerful and essential element of the marketing mix.

Visual branding is often the forefront of any recruitment agency’s marketing strategy, with careful consideration given to how the organisation looks at first glance.

When candidates and clients are making a decision about which agency to trust, first impressions count.

The importance of visual branding is well established by this point and, as expected, marketing budgets are predominantly spent on visual collateral, such as signage, business cards, CV templates and websites.

But what about how an organisation sounds?

Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses, capable of provoking strong feelings and having a profound effect on our subconscious so it’s perhaps surprising that so few businesses focus on how well they sound.

This might be due to the fact audio branding is still viewed as the preserve of large multinational corporations and most readily associated with sonic logos, such as the one used by technology giants Intel that features throughout their television advertising.

But audio branding has far more practical applications, particularly when applied to the telephone.

For recruitment agencies, the phone is an essential medium for communicating with prospective candidates or employers looking to advertise a job. If faced with poor music, the wrong tone or voice or an impolite manner, the caller’s initial judgement of the company may be skewed and a lasting negative opinion could be formed. What’s more, a recent study of 1,000 British consumers by PH Media Group discovered 73 per cent of respondents wouldn’t do repeat business with an organisation if their first call wasn’t handled to expectations.

By carefully selecting an audio brand which is congruent with its existing visual counterpart, it is possible to further strengthen the company’s professional image, enhance brand values and offer a higher level of customer service.

Spark emotions

Has a song ever transported you to a past time or place?

Sounds we hear on a day-to-day basis have the ability to spark the recall of emotions but what happens if it takes you back to a negative memory?

Voice and music heard over the phone is no different. Forcing a particular piece of music or random voice to fit is a ‘square peg, round hole’ scenario as the style and tone could communicate completely different values to the ones that the existing branding already portrays.

Therefore, when it comes to constructing an audio profile, it pays to choose an experienced specialist who can take the company’s desired image and work forwards in order to create a bespoke solution for your business.

The voice of your company

For recruitment agencies looking to secure business, customers need to know that they are dealing with a professional organisation who has the skills to look after a job hunter’s prospective career or provide the perfect candidate to an organisation.

In this context, it is somewhat unsurprising that research has found that the voice of the industry is male, aged between 30 and 35 with an honest and warm tone. A masculine voice is generally perceived as authoritative and distinguished, whereas a female voice, which is seen as soothing and calm, suits better in a sector where a warm welcome and comforting manner is necessary, such as in a veterinary practice.

In terms of age, the older age profile enables the company to convey dependability and professionalism, while a younger voice suggests vibrancy and enthusiasm, ideal for a business where the products are pitched as exciting and fun. Ultimately, it is a case of choosing the best combination to suit your brand.

Sense of belonging

If your business operates in an area with a strong sense of identity, using an accent in your audio branding could be beneficial.

Received pronunciation was once the most common choice in marketing and advertising campaigns, yet regional dialects are becoming more popular. This is due to accents carrying strong preconceptions and stereotypes, helping to enhance brand recollection.

Not only can it aid in helping your company become more memorable but if the accent is the same as your client base, it can also assert a sense of belonging and speak to the customers in a manner they can relate to

Hit the right note

Many businesses believe playing a popular song while their customers wait on the phone will suffice in keeping them engaged and entertained.

Yet commercial tracks come with baggage and how a listener feels about the piece of music is a lottery of their previous experience.

By creating a brand new track which hasn’t been heard before, a blank slate is given to the customer to form a new opinion and further strengthen the image of the organisation.

Volume, pitch and tempo can all be taken into consideration to form a tune tailored exactly to requirements. Physical attributes – such as whether the track is major, minor, fast, slow, loud or quiet – can all communicate emotional meaning and help to complement existing branding.

The recruitment industry tends to favour music which is corporate in style, with inspiring and driven elements. This, alongside the professional and trustworthy voice, helps to promote the firm as a dependable business which can provide a first-rate service.

Refresh and engage

Unlike its visual counterpart, sound works in a subtle, unobtrusive manner by warming the customer up for purchase before they even speak to someone. Ultimately, it has a more profound, lasting effect.

However, if overplayed, it can cause problems. Working in a similar way to songs, hearing the same audio messages on repeat can become boring and the listener will simply switch off.

Dan LaffertyBy refreshing the content of the messages, it not only keeps callers updated with information like the latest staffing solutions or a new online job search function, but it can also help with keeping the customer’s attention and avoiding sound fatigue.

Brand-congruent voice and music forms a powerful element of a marketing mix so to ignore it can prove detrimental for recruitment agencies. Perhaps businesses need to give more consideration as to how they sound, not just how they look.

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  1. Roy Ripper

    Great post Louise and Dan. Music and sound are so important to so many people and in my experience most often overlooked by recruitment businesses when considering their branding/marketing.

    We work so very hard to think about company names, logos, straplines, colours, fonts etc but rarely think about ‘owning’ a sound and making it synonymous with our brand.

    I’m always reminded of ‘Fourscore’ – the four note theme tune used by Channel 4 for about 10 years and the simple five-note tune composed over 20 years ago that helped Intel become one of the most recognised brands in the world. They reckon it’s played once every five minutes somewhere across the globe!

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