Guest Post by Colin Shaw on LinkedIn Pulse
Music has a unique effect on our brain, especially concerning memory. Apple brilliantly capitalizes on all of them in its holiday ad. When it comes to branding there might be no better way than using music to help a Customer remember your brand promise. Here is the ad, in case you missed it:
Part of the reason these studies showed the link is because music activates many centers across the brain, including the emotional ones. From classical music to the Gershwin tune used in the Apple ad, these areas are active and processing the data. When this occurs, memory is triggered and a perception is formed. In addition, music has the ability to take us back in time to emotions we felt, even to the music of our parents or grandparents as is depicted in the Apple ad.
So Why is Music So Emotionally Charged for Us?
I once read “Music comes the closest to expressing the inexpressible.” I couldn’t agree more. This is because music has a language of its own. Malini Mohana, Neuropsychology researcher from the University of Cape Town, South Africa defined it like this:
“Music can be thought of as a type of perceptual illusion, much the same way in which a collage is perceived. The brain imposes structure and order on a sequence of sounds that, in effect, creates an entirely new system of meaning.” (Source:psychcentral.com.)
The language your brain associates with music creates emotions. This language is why you turn up the volume when you hear a song from your youth and sing along joyfully, particularly when you haven’t heard it in a long time. Your brain is producing happy memories that evoke strong emotions. It’s a reason that many people look forward to Holiday music after Thanksgiving (or in some cases just after Halloween!). Mohana explains also that the brain’s emotional, language and memory are all active when listening to music, making it synthesize a memory of your feelings associated with the sounds and rhythm of it.
Several studies have revealed music has a link with our memory. In one study, researchers discovered singing aids in learning a foreign language. Perhaps it is also why those of us around in 1971, (I was 13), know that Coke would “Like to Teach the World to Sing” is a classic and made everyone sing this song.
Branding with Music Creates a Memory…Just Hope it’s a Good One
Apple and Coke have chosen good songs to create the memory with their Customers. In both cases, the song and the resulting connection is likely to keep positive emotions associated with the brand name. They did a great job.
Using music is not a guarantee of good feelings however. Consider this gem:
Wow. Just wow.
This one is making my brain language laugh in earnest. Laughing is positive, I suppose, but it’s better when it’s “with” not “at.” David’s Pizza has a cheesy ad. Now, you might argue, cheesy isn’t bad when you are selling pizza, but I doubt it would work for a national soda brand or elite tech company.
Why is the Gershwin song great and the David’s pizza song well, …not great? According to Mohana, it’s because the brain structures are wired to anticipate rhythm and melody. Your brain automatically starts to synchronize with the beat and predicts the next one. This happens in the subconscious. Skilled composers are masters at balancing when these expectations are met and when they are not.
Music and branding are a great combination for any organization. Having a great song, jingle, or score makes the ad create positive emotions in the minds of your Customers. It gives your brand promise a foundation built on good memories. From there, you can build the brand to attract them to your business.
Of course, you’d better make sure that the Customer Experience they have when they get there is as advertised. As I have written before, disappointed is never an emotion that leads to a good Customer Experience.
Apple’s new Holiday ad is heartwarming; it’s also genius (punny!). By reaching in and plucking your heartstrings, it embeds its brand right into your subconscious mind.
What song/ad combination do you love? Please share your examples with all of us in the comments below.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world's first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books and a keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX