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Marta Miranda
– Branded Content Specialist & Producer –

Have you ever thought, as a client, that Music can create an identification with a brand? 

We are used to, for example, entering physical shops and listening to a certain musical style chosen on purpose as background music. In fact, whether it’s because of the type of music you hear in a physical shop or even the music chosen for an advertisement or for a particular brand event, music is closely linked to Marketing and can reinforce the brand’s DNA. 

And from 2020 the transition from a music branding strategy to digital was notorious.

Marta Miranda
– Branded Content Specialist & Producer –

Have you ever thought, as a client, that Music can create an identification with a brand? 

We are used to, for example, entering physical shops and listening to a certain musical style chosen on purpose as background music. In fact, whether it’s because of the type of music you hear in a physical shop or even the music chosen for an advertisement or for a particular brand event, music is closely linked to Marketing and can reinforce the brand’s DNA. 

And from 2020 the transition from a music branding strategy to digital was notorious.

The relationship between music and sensory Marketing 

First of all, it is important to remember that there are different elements that build the image of a brand, i.e. branding: the name, the visual identity, the decoration of the physical space, the quality of service and the sensory Marketing. 

So when we think of brands like Apple or Google and associate them with innovation and being market leaders, we are transmitting the way we identify a brand, which will influence our relationship with it. Our associations have been effectively worked on by branding, through strategies and marketing actions that reinforce the brand’s values. 

In turn, there are different sensory Marketing techniques that are used and are already familiar to us, such as the typical smell of a shop, among all the sensations that are provided and remembered when we think of a brand. 

The ambient music of a Store is thus another of the techniques of Sensory Marketing, by taking advantage of hearing, using sounds to translate the identity of the brand. It aims to provide a better shopping experience, with an environment that is more pleasant and conducive to shopping, which tends to attract and retain customers. Music, therefore, is not usually a random element. 

We have the example of brands whose shop positioning is thought for a younger public and that opt for louder and more modern music, with a more relaxed service, while luxury brands with a positioning thought for a more mature target generally opt for calmer music, with a lower sound volume and a more formal service. 

Ultimately, what matters is to increase sales and it has been proven that a music branding strategy creates connection with the client – who isn’t surrounded by music in their life and isn’t influenced by its sentimental charge? 

It is still argued that it increases the permanence of a customer in the shop, stimulates impulse purchases and improves brand leadership through the auditory memory of consumers. With the right music curation, the brand remains in the memory of consumers, since it activates emotions. Through music branding emotional connections are established with brands, which create positive memories and representations and help differentiate from the competition.

In the book “Sounds like branding”, Jakob Lusensky tells us that “music branding is communication through emotions. Music engages people in conversations and creates memorable experiences. This helps companies build a unique position in the minds of their audience, turning their customers into brand fans.” 

Music branding is a Branded Content strategy 

Creating content for a brand through music implies being able to translate the concepts, attributes and essence of the brand in a musical way, in order to strengthen relationships with consumers. The aim is to add value to customers’ lives and therefore add value to the brand. 

Music branding is widely best known for encompassing the creation of:

  • Ambient Music playlists for an indoor radio station, in a commercial establishment;
  • playlists for Events;
  • artists’ performances in events;
  • music festivals;
  • production of TV commercials and radio spots;
  • sound branding production (construction of “jingles” for advertising campaigns, with a musical signature that gets known).

But nowadays it is also necessary to consider the playlists of brands on Spotify and streaming platforms;

  • ads on Spotify;
  • musical content for social networks;
  • digital and advertising partnerships with artists/influencers (e.g.: lives, sponsored posts, videoclips, etc.).

How to put the different music branding strategies into practice? 

Some tips 

Do you own a fashion brand? A restaurant? A hotel? A shopping center? A clinic? There are many businesses that usually take advantage of a music branding strategy. What they all have in common is that they need to know how to differentiate themselves from the competition and, to do so, they need to personalize their actions, respecting their essence and their target audience. 

Although music branding is not an exact science, here are a few tips to make a successful music curation service: 

The choice of playlists  

  • Choose the musical styles of the playlist (rock? jazz? bossa nova?) according to the brand’s identity and your audience’s profile (and not according to your personal or employees’ taste);
  • Schedule the playlist according to the time of day and the flow of people in the shop throughout the day – for example, at the end of the day, consumers seem more tired after a day’s work, so loud music can lead to irritation; also faster music leads to faster circulation, which makes it easier at peak times; 
  • Make Ambient Music playlists (with the respective licenses – those created on Spotify are not allowed for commercial use in retail outlets) common to all the brand’s retail outlets, including the digital medium;

To be able to perform these strategies well, it is not only crucial to keep up to date and constantly research new music styles, but to know how to answer questions related to branding. If your brand was a person, which singer would it be? What playlist would you have? What kind of music festival would you like to sponsor? What type of audience frequents your shop and what are their preferences? Are the music artists you have chosen representatives of competing brands?

From these analyses, a communication agency that works with music branding begins to have more clarity on the way to define a sound identity manual for a brand, where the different musical styles and the artists that symbolize the brand’s musical persona are found. 

Presence on Spotify 

According to data from Exame Magazine (April, 2021), Spotify has more than 300 million active users worldwide and there are at least more than 300 brand profiles on Spotify from different segments. 

Brands that want to create content from the Spotify streaming platform should turn to Spotify for brands, where they can create their profile with their playlists for dissemination in the digital environment. 

These playlists can and should materialize content per se, with strategies designed for the playlists (for example, the names to be given to the playlists should be thematic, mirror product attributes, campaign names, represent ephemerides or simply states of mind). 

Spotify playlists should also be promoted as a type of content on other digital media, such as on social media (via stories, posts in the feed, featured menu) or via emails, encouraging customers to subscribe and listen to a playlist. 

To impact users who use Spotify for free (those who are not premium subscribers), brands can:

  • sponsor playlists created by Spotify itself;
  • offer a sponsored 30-minute session of ad-free music for those who watch a promotional video;
  • create audio ad spots (just like on the radio).

To impact premium users, who listen to playlists without the interruption of ads, US fast food company KFC ran a specific creative campaign within Spotify Premium to launch a new sandwich – the Anything but Ordinary Kentucky Burger.

KFC teamed up with three music artists (locals from Dubai), whose profile and cover photos were changed to include the burger alongside the artists; commercial information was included in the description of the biographies; playlists of these artists were created with advertising messages such as “discover the new Kentucky Burger before it’s too late”; and the locations of the shows referred to the nearest KFC shops on google maps.

This campaign that will have reached around 100,000 people on Spotify showed how to associate a product with musical artists, humanizing the brand and building an affective relationship with consumers.

Source: Reason Why, Youtube 

Another example is the Adidas brand that announced the launch of Ultraboost 20 trainers positioning them as an innovative product thought for the future of sports. This positioning led to the insight of associating them with the theme of space, which led to a partnership with Spotify and the International Space Station (United States National Laboratory) and created a playlist with songs related to the theme of space. To be able to access the playlist, customers needed to point their phone at the stars in the sky until they located the Space Station. 

Partnerships with music artists 

It was during the confinement that we began to see the trend of sponsored lives with musical artists who, associated with brands, entertained social media users. This trend ended up strengthening branded content actions associated with Influence Marketing, which not only benefited artists in critical periods, but also gave brands access to the artists’ fans. 

And since then, there has been an increasing association of a brand with an artist. The advertising market thus continues to find ways to join the music ecosystem in innovative ways and one of the latest marketing trends is ‘clip-commerces’. It is nothing new that brands invest in product placement in soap operas, series, films and even music videos, so investing in audiovisual productions with singers would not be something unlikely to happen. 

Brands need to innovate to stand out in the market, especially when dealing with audiences that do not have the profile to watch TV ads. 

In Brazil, some examples stand out like the creation of exclusive songs by singers Anitta for the brand Magalu and Vanessa da Mata for Weswing, respectively. The partnership between Vanessa da Mata and Westwing brought about the first clip-commerce in Brazil, where all the products shown were available for purchase at the brand: 

Source: Youtube Vanessa da Mata
Source: Youtube Magalu

In Portugal we also have two recent examples of this trend. Fox channels’ The Scroll campaign, which materialized in a real (physical) feed of two kilometers with examples of Fox channels’ programmes, used as a metaphor to ironise the average time one spends on the mobile phone feed every day, joined the artist Ivandro for the creation of an exclusive song about the theme. The music video was even shot on the very physical scroll developed by the Fox campaign.

Source: Youtube Fox Portugal 

Samsung Portugal went further and also allied with a musical artist, David Bruno, produced not only a song but a music album with five songs that intend to show tutorials, highlighting the functionalities of the Galaxy range of mobile phones:

Source: Youtube Samsung Portugal

More recently, it was Staples’ turn to release a video with Portuguese musicians Diogo Piçarra and Nenny creating the song “Everyone can makes a difference” to promote their Back to School campaign:

Source: Youtube Staples Portugal

In conclusion, tune music to your brand offline and online 

Since 2020, many brands have migrated their activities to the digital world as they have seen retail outlets close. If the shopping experience was already something to be enhanced in physical spaces through the techniques of Sensory Marketing, among them the choice of an ambient music playlist to stimulate consumers’ senses, this shopping experience could not come to be less valued in the reality of online. Music has a positive impact on the relationship with a brand, both consciously and unconsciously, whether in terms of the memory that a consumer has of that brand, whether in terms of staying in the shop or in terms of the connection with the same in digital media. 

After all, music branding allows us to communicate a brand’s identity in a more human and emotional way.