Why don’t most companies add a new dimension to their brand: original and unique sound / music?
A recent survey by Millward Brown’s BrandZ shows Intel as the 23rd world brand in terms of brand value, ahead of Amazon, Mercedes, Pepsi, Ikea and many other well-known names. In Interbrand’s 2009 ranking, Intel is 7th. Isn’t that extraordinary since the corporation manufactures mainly semiconductors, i.e. products that consumers can’t see, touch and buy?
I think that this remarkable position is due in a large part to the famous five-note jingle – the “Bong” - the company has been consistently using for years in advertising. It seems that, lately, Intel have even realised the hidden values of this asset and started to revitalise it by having “the Bong sung by a chorus of Intel humans on-screen”, as noticed by Ken Segall in an August blog entry.
In a 2006 entry in my own blog, I was already wondering why so few companies use original sound and music as an integral part of their brand expression. And when they do, many chose only well know jazz, pop or classical pieces that can’t be copyrighted in association with their brand. Why don’t they create their own sound/music? Why do they annoy us with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons when our call is put on hold?
Sound adds a third dimension to the visual and verbal attributes of ‘flat branding’ and transforms a surface into a high-level volume. A brand without musical dimension is like a silent movie. Music is the best way to associate emotions with your brand and, thus, to increase customer loyalty. In a July entry to his blog, Marco van Hout, founder of LinkedIN’s Design & Emotion Society, draws our attention to a recent Scientific American article titled Why Music Moves Us. This may convince the last sceptics.
So, honestly, why don’t you add your own sound/music to your brand, turn up the volume and break the sound barrier?
Why do most companies lack clarity in the verbal expression of their brand?
Most companies manage their brands in a flatland, focusing only on their visual and on their verbal identities, and paying too much attention to the look of the container and not enough to the quality of the content.
On the visual side, they usually look OK, for they give graphic communication specialists the responsibility to design an adequate set of items including logo, letterhead, web banner, colour scheme, official fonts and so on. Respecting the basic rules of a graphic charter, they produce documents (brochures, flyers, web pages, etc.) that have a consistent look and feel. So, they score a few points against marketing’s enemy #1 – indifference – with stuff that differentiates them from their competitors, in appearance. Unfortunately, most are happy with that!
The problem is that the situation worsens markedly in the verbal domain, making their score against marketing’s enemy #2 – confusion - reach abysmal depths. The quality of the content doesn’t match the attractiveness of the container. When companies write about who they are and what they do, they tend to completely lose it. Most offend against:
- Simplicity – with complex corporate speak, hollow statement and meaningless affirmations
- Crispness – with verbose declarations, endless sentences and convoluted expressions
- Clarity – with confusing assertions, obscure abbreviations and plain BS
- Consistency – by sending different messages across their websites, press releases, brochures, summary statements, etc.
In other words, too many businesses don’t understand the necessity to be effective and persuasive with a clear message making them stand out from the competitive crowd.
Time to beat again the drum for the Cluetrain Manifesto with its first three theses:
- Markets are conversations.
- Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
- Conversations among human beings sound human…
‘Sound’ human … hum! Is that a hint for a third dimension?
A tribute to Giuseppe Verdi
People often ask me to define marketing. A couple of years ago, I would have embarked on elaborate definitions like this one. Today I simply reply that marketing is about one single word, dear to most opera aficionados: AIDA.
A is for Attention – The marketer’s enemy #1 is indifference. So, his/her first job is to get the attention of the audience; to make the product or company stand out from the crowd, from the raging noise of the marketplace. There are as many ways to achieve this as there are different kinds of businesses. Bold advertising is just one of the possible answers. Cynics say that there is no bad publicity, but just publicity. The key is to get noticed.
I is for Interest – Once you have gained the punter’s attention, your challenge is to engage your prey into wanting to know more. Remember that you are one quick click away from oblivion. You have to present simple, crisp and clear information about your offer to entice your prospect to further explore, to dive into increasing details that give him a compelling reason to complete the search.
D is for Desire (or Decision in ‘serious’ business ;-) – If you raise your future customer’s interest to a sufficient level, you create her eagerness to own your product or to buy your service. Win the battle of the mind by triggering her reason, motivations and emotions with meaningful arguments.
A is for Action – The final step is the drive your catch to act and to part with his cash. You have to make the transaction as easy and pleasant as possible. Multiple options. Excellent service. Flawless. Straightforward. Fun. Remember that the Internet’s inferno is full of abandoned shopping carts; you don’t want to be part of that, right?
AIDA: one little four-letter word speaking for many years of experience.
How far are we from being saturated by ‘green noise’? Close. But the solution is simple: focus on conserving energy.
I think it is time for ‘greens’ of all types to dramatically revise their communications strategies and to focus on what really matters. An increasing number of publications, websites and blogs about environmental topics mention a rising phenomenon described as green noise, green backlash, green fatigue and so on.
People are getting fed up with the hubbub of confusing and often conflicting messages on a wide variety of eco-subjects including climate change, global warming, pollution, obesity, world trade and many others. We are bombarded with slogans such as ‘save the planet’ – ‘save the whales’ – ‘protect the Amazon forest’ – ‘use bio fuels’ – ‘eat five vegetables a day and omega 3 rich fish twice a week’ – ‘ban tuna fishing’ – ‘give preference to local produce’ – etc.
To add to the chaos, corporations are painting themselves green, believing that environmentalism sells. Count the number of times you see adjectives like ‘eco-friendly’ – ‘ renewable’ – ‘sustainable’ – ‘reusable’ – ‘natural’ – ‘organic’ - and even ‘clean’ in their ads, brochures and websites.
To me, the top prize for cynicism has to go to BP with their “beyond petroleum” tagline and with their claim to deserve the ‘green’ label because they offer ‘fair trade’ coffee in their petrol stations. What a cheek for a company that pumps, every day, 3.8 million barrels of oil from the world reserves and reports indecent profits quarter after quarter (no, Mum, I’ve not become a communist; I just think there should be a limit to greed).
The result of all this nonsense is that consumers listen less and less to green messages. A survey quoted by The Institute of Public Affairs Australia found that in 2007, 20% fewer US consumers deliberately bought an environmentally friendly product than in 2006, when only 21% of all surveyed people said that environmental considerations had led them to choose one product over another. In other words, 16% cared about buying green in 2007 and this number could be about 12% right now. Consumers seem to be figuring out that most eco-friendly claims are just a lot of marketing bluster.
So, instead of harassing citizen about their carbon footprint (yet another management consultants’ baloney – as if we, mere humans, could influence our planet’s climate in perceptible ways), governments should simply help people become aware of how much energy they consume and measure everything in kWh to enable straight comparisons. Then, one single slogan suffices: CONSERVE ENERGY. This is what really matters.
If we all become better at using less energy – by heating (or cooling) to a lesser degree our houses and, especially, public buildings; by reducing our usage of automobiles, especially 4WD monsters in metropolitan areas; by buying low consumption appliances; and by using telecommunications technologies instead of flying across the world to attend unproductive meetings – we will  decrease the pollution,  reduce the global warming (in our modest proportions) and  save dosh, bucks, quids, dineros … in short, money; our own and our country’s. Yes, Sir. And that’s concrete. You catch people’s attention through their wallet, and abandon fuzzy theories and idiotic demagogy.
Two simple words: CONSERVE ENERGY. Ain’t that simpler?
A few neologisms
Surfing the web from the Why Not Idea Exchange, I landed on an interesting website –trendwatching.com- where a new marketing word is introduced in these terms: “ In a consumer society dominated by experiences in the (semi) public domain -- often branded, designed, themed and curated to the nines -- INSPERIENCES represent consumers' desire to bring top-level experiences into their domestic domain. ”
In the risk of going too far with neologisms, I hereby publicly introduce yet another word: INSPIRIENCE**. I define ‘inspirience’ as “the stimulus to creative thought one perceives by experiencing an inspiring product or service”. In an age where emotional design becomes increasingly important, people can enjoy positive inspiriences reading a book, using an instrument or partaking in an event.
And since I am at it, why not propose ASPIRIENCE? I define ‘aspirience’ as “the desire or ambition one gets by experiencing a motivating product or service”. A beautiful fountain pen may motivate you to write a novel, a high quality toolset to build a treehouse, a Steinway to become a great concert performer.
Finally, just for fun (?), an EXPIRIENCE is “The experience a person is going through while utilising a product that is about to break down, or eating food past its sell-by date, or using a service requiring a subscription renewal.”
How more silly can all that jazz become?