We’re constantly curating the soundtrack of our lives, handpicking melodies that speak to us on any number of levels, conscious or subconscious. Going through a break-up? Cue the heartbreak ballads. Working out? Turn-up the techno beats. We’re used to tuning into the songs that best correlate with what we’re feeling or doing, but did you know that the reverse is also true?
That is, that music can elicit a particular feeling when you’re in an otherwise neutral state. You’ve probably implicitly noticed this, even if you haven’t given it too much thought, but the power of music has swayed audiences for centuries. Take a movie, for example: the soundtrack or score supports what’s happening onscreen and guides spectators into feeling a certain way about situations and even specific characters.
Using the same logic, businesses can harness this tactic to build brand recognition and positive perception.
Take this study published in the Journal of Applied Business Research. A sample audience of 210 undergraduate students was asked to record all the thoughts that came to mind after watching a suite of ads. What the audience didn’t know was that prior to constructing these test ads, 16 melodies were pretested based on music that would elicit negative, neutral or positive emotions. Those findings were used to develop three music beds (one negative, one neutral and one positive) that were added to a single commercial. The results supported the hypothesis that negative, neutral and positive musical emotive cues exerted a progressively enhanced influence on brand attitudes, meaning the “negative music has a less favorable influence on brand attitude than neutral music, and neutral music has a less favorable influence on brand attitudes than positively valenced music.”
So how do you use this to your brand’s advantage? It certainly takes trial and error to get right, but finding the perfect music bed can take your audience on a journey that a voiceover or just an image simply can’t. Brands can use a song’s message to reinforce their own and in doing so, seamlessly strengthen a visual with an accompanying aural cue. But lyrics aren’t the only way to spread a message, as even an instrumental song can elicit happy or sad emotions, transcending language barriers and broadening audiences through music.
Most importantly, in an age where brands must stand out among all the clutter, music in advertising helps content break through by connecting with audiences on an emotional level.
In advertising, humanizing a product or service is the first step in gaining the trust that leads to conversions. Music tells the story of the human condition, and it can be a powerful tool in your next campaign.
This bee was busy working. See how we used music to set the tone: