Feed the imagination: Emma Eriksson, Jeff Wayne Music

Intel might have done it years ago with its audio logo, but now other brands are waking up to the benefits of a sonic branding strategy.

Feed the imagination: Emma Eriksson, Jeff Wayne Music

Culinary trailblazer The Fat Duck serves its seafood starter with a pair of headphones emitting the sound of waves and seagulls. Why? Because sound has a proven effect on experience, and restaurant-goers report an increased appreciation of their Madagascan prawns when teamed with the sounds of the seaside.

Other studies have found that when classical music is played in an off-licence, shoppers will opt for a more expensive wine because music affects their choice.

Music is an enduring and central feature of the moving-image industry, both in terms of bespoke productions and use of existing copyright tracks. But brands and music-makers alike have had to think creatively about how to dominate new forms of media alongside the diminishing attention span of their audience.

When Jeff Wayne set up his pioneering music supervision and production company in 1968, there were three TV channels and colour picture was a novelty. In the years that followed, he composed thousands of soundtracks that challenged the existing "sound" of music in media (think whistling!). This completely changed the creative landscape and set a whole new tone for the future.

Today, we have a consumer who interacts with media on multiple platforms, demanding compelling and succinctly delivered content. Where does music fit into these developments, and how has it adapted? More importantly, what does the future look like?

Sourcing or creating music for 30-second spots has always been a craft. Now, more than ever before, music companies have to be able to accommodate a new spectrum of requirements, not least the increasing demand for short creations that are high-impact, without compromising on authenticity.

A good example of such sound use is mnemonics. We have been creating them for decades, but this is an area that remains relatively untapped. These short constellations of sounds must encapsulate brand values while being able to stand the test of time. Intel is a brand that has been ahead of the game with a mnemonic that engenders an instant connection with the consumer on an almost subconscious level. It has been using its five-note sonic logo for almost 20 years and can now rest assured that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you will think of Intel when you hear those xylophone notes.

But sonic logos are just the start.

The 2008 study "Sounds Like Branding" by Jakob Lusensky found that 97 per cent of top global brands believed that music would strengthen them. However, most didn't have a plan that could be implemented for its use. This is changing. The use of music in media has entered a more strategic era where approaching music use on a project-by-project basis may no longer suffice. Rather, switched-on brands are engaging music companies like ours to develop sonic branding strategies.

By taking a more strategic view on music and sound use, brands can develop a consistent and unique sound that will drive consumer awareness and engagement. "Sounds Like Branding" found that brands using music that is consistent with their identity are 96 per cent more likely to be remembered than those with inconsistent music or no music at all. Hence, a brand can add value by adopting a signature sound that not only comes to define its key messages, but is also the glue that connects it to the consumer.

The growth of sonic branding as a discipline underlines the powerful effect that music and sound have on consumer experience and behaviour. An appreciation of their effects can give you a competitive advantage in the market.

In order to drive consumer engagement, brands need to be ahead of the sensory curve. As content-creators tap into the enriching effect that sound can have, worlds that have traditionally been silent are now being infiltrated by audio. From e-books to comics, the digital space is fertile ground in which sound use is set to grow - our sound designers are increasingly being tasked with such projects. For example, many consumers have resisted the move to digital newspapers because they cherish the sensory experience of holding the product in their hands. The sound of turning pages on a digital newspaper could make for a more authentic experience. In this way, clever use of audio can bridge the gap between old and new forms of media.

It's clear that music and sound facilitate the holy grails of awareness and engagement. While advertisers and marketers have been trying to tap into this notion, we have entered an era where, with the help of music companies such as ours, forward-thinking brands will be approaching the selection and creation of sound and music with near scientific precision, and reaping all of the rewards.

In this respect, The Fat Duck and Jeff Wayne Music have something in common. Both recognise the integrality of sound, and both have found ways to feed the customer with experience-enhancing, memorable creations.

Emma Eriksson is the head of business development and marketing at Jeff Wayne Music

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