What Does Your Brand Sound Like? — An Audio Branding Primer

You may not realize it, but audio branding is everywhere. It’s in the solid sound that a car door makes as it closes so you have a feeling of security. It’s in the melodic tones produced by modern appliances, so chores feel like accomplishments to celebrate. It’s integral to creating a sense of expectancy as your favorite shows come on. When you hear it, you feel it. But what does this have to do with healthcare?

What comes to mind when you think of your company’s brand? If it’s a logo, graphic standards, taglines or positioning in the market, you may be running the equivalent of a silent movie. Brands go beyond these visual and strategic components. Brands are feelings. And one of the best ways to create a feeling is through sound — especially music. We call this “audio branding.”

What Is Audio Branding?

You may not realize it, but audio branding is everywhere. It’s in the solid sound that a car door makes as it closes so you have a feeling of security. It’s in the melodic tones produced by modern appliances, so chores feel like accomplishments to celebrate. It’s integral to creating a sense of expectancy as your favorite shows come on. When you hear it, you feel it. But what does this have to do with healthcare?

Marketers view brand awareness and associated goodwill as a savings account. You build it up over time in anticipation of cashing it in when consumers enter the market for services. But people usually don’t want to think about healthcare unless they have an immediate need. This instinctive shunning of the subject matter makes it hard to build up that awareness and preference ahead of time. Music — or an audio signature — is one way to overcome that psychological barrier.

More Than Just Jingles

Some brands will license expensive music, using a song that was popular during the target audience’s formative years. The brand essentially piggybacks on the nostalgia or popularity of the song. But unless there’s an obvious connection between that well-known piece of music and your brand, the positive association is short-lived. And, song licensing renewals are often costly, which tends to discourage the ongoing use needed for branding.

A more cost-effective approach is to develop an original piece of music on a buy-out basis. You can do this through your agency, with instructions to use freelance talent and a set budget. Or, you can hold an open contest and review submissions. Remember, you don’t need to create a piece of music as long as a 2 to 4 minute song, but rather much shorter tracks of 3 seconds, 5 seconds and a variation with up to 60 seconds of extended instrumentals. These short tracks will give you what you need for typical advertising intros and exits and use at public and internal events.

Once you have your audio signature, use it as a brand unifier across all of your healthcare services and products, year after year. The reluctant consumer won’t remember the words in your service line ads, but the music — and feelings — will linger. And that’s a brand.

Will Millennials Fully Experience the Analog Revival?

Analog is back. It’s hip, it’s retro and it’s hot in film photography, print books and paper notebooks. But will the embrace of tactile, non-digital media among Millennials extend to music? That remains to be seen.

Analog is making a comeback
Analog is making a comeback

Analog is back. It’s hip, it’s retro and it’s hot in film photography, print books and paper notebooks. But will the embrace of tactile, non-digital media among Millennials extend to music? That remains to be seen.

Instagram shows over 3 million posts each for the hashtags #filmphotography, #filmisnotdead and #polaroid. Photo booths are popular at weddings. Young people are increasingly enamored with pictures taken on devices other than their phones, even though Instagram remains the go-to place to view and share them.

My students who have done class research projects on ebook readers have consistently found that college students prefer print books over electronic ones for classes. I’ve observed an increasing number of students using paper notebooks rather than tablet computers and laptops to take notes. Hardcover diary-type notebooks are gaining a hipster cache, and recently, I had a student enter an appointment in a paper calendar, as I remarked, “How quaint!”

A New York Times review says the new David Sax book, “The Revenge of Analog,” is “a powerful counter-narrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world.” The review adds that the author contends that the analog revival “is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex.”

But while most things we can have and hold are easily accessible to Millennials, music is different. Fortune magazine reported vinyl record sales hit $416 million last year, the highest since 1988, according to the RIAA. But there are several barriers to the mass adoption of analog music, most significant of which is the need for a turntable and vinyl platters. Millennials own digital music and listen to it on portable devices through headphones, occasionally through a Bluetooth speaker. I’ve written before about the Millennial music experience being more individual than social, more like filling your ears with sound than filling a room with sound.

It’s easier for Baby Boomers to embrace analog music, because many still have their vinyl collections stored away. Marketing consultant Lonny Strum recently wrote in his blog Strumings about re-experiencing the joy of a turntable needle drop, saying “What the process of using a turntable has reminded me of is the joy of interaction/engagement with music that vinyl provided. The ‘needle drop’ (and alas the subsequent vinyl scratches) were all part of the process of listening to music. The selection of the song, the cut of the album took time and consideration, not a millisecond fast-forward that digital allows. I rediscovered the snap, crackle and pop from excessive play in past years. In fact, I instantly recall the places in songs of my 45s and LPs where the crackle, or pop existed, as if it were a key part of the song.”

EmotionsThese are the types of experiences that the Times notes in reviewing “The Revenge of Analog,”

“ … the hectic scratch of a fountain pen on the smooth, lined pages of a notebook; the slow magic of a Polaroid photo developing before our eyes; the snap of a newspaper page being turned and folded back … ”

A recent study published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society concluded that “MP3 compression strengthened neutral and negative emotional characteristics such as Mysterious, Shy, Scary and Sad, and weakened positive emotional characteristics such as Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic and Calm” making the case that analog music might actually be a more positive and pleasant experience.

Will Millennials and the generations who follow get to experience it?

Millennials, Music and Marketing

Music is a powerful marketing vehicle that fits neatly into the social media space. Big brands have aligned with celebrity artists to reach Millennials in their native social media milieu. Taylor Swift is the face of Keds and Diet Coke. Impresario JayZ has a multi-million dollar deal with Samsung, and Katie Perry is on board with H&M to name just a few. Music festivals have become mega-marketing events with a complex web of social sharing opportunities.

Music is a powerful marketing vehicle that fits neatly into the social media space. Big brands have aligned with celebrity artists to reach Millennials in their native social media milieu. Taylor Swift is the face of Keds and Diet Coke. Impresario JayZ has a multi-million dollar deal with Samsung, and Katie Perry is on board with H&M, to name just a few. Music festivals have become mega-marketing events, with a complex Web of social sharing opportunities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpsVax8h7gw

This relationship between big brands and celebrity musicians is symbiotic: For the brands, music can be the relevant tie that binds them to an audience that’s skeptical of traditional advertising. For celebrity musicians, brand endorsements are not only a lucrative revenue stream, but also an important platform for extending their reach.

But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s, most boomers would have called a rock star who endorsed products a sell-out. You would never see anything like The Grateful Dead endorsing Fritos back then, but now we even have Bob Dylan on TV for IBM’s Watson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwh1INne97Q

The evolution of music into a marketing vehicle has been a long, strange trip. Music has always been a shared experience, but there’s a huge difference in the way young people share between Millennials, the current largest generation, and boomers, the previous largest generation.

From my teens through my 30s, it was cool to have a high-fidelity stereo system (tuner/amp, three-way speakers and turntable) to play vinyl records at high volume and fill a room full of friends with music. Music listening was a social thing, something to be shared live and in-person. The listening unit was an album side, usually start to finish, but occasionally someone would take the trouble to play an individual cut, carefully using the turntable lever to drop the needle in the space between the grooves of the spinning vinyl platter. These precious vinyl disks were handled very carefully to ensure that they didn’t collect oily fingerprints, or God forbid, noise-producing scratches.

Back then, creating a playlist was not a drag-and-drop task. It was a longer-than-real-time event. Using a reel-to-reel or cassette tape recorder plugged into the same amplifier as the turntable, the playlist maker would push the record button, drop the needle for each track, play it through, pause the tape, carefully change out the vinyl record, and then record the next track. The advent of the compact disc made this a bit easier, but it was still a real-time event.

For Millennials, music is still a shared experience, but it’s shared on social media rather than in-person. Rather than being an onerous task, the easily generated playlist is now a common unit of listening. People share playlists through Spotify and Pandora, and can instantly share snippets of music they’re listening to on Spotify or Apple Music using Facebook Music Stories. And music consumption is high. A study by Vevo found that Millennials spend an average of 25 hours per week streaming music.

But rather than filling a room with music, much of music listening today is a solitary activity, using earbuds and mobile devices. High-fidelity systems are a thing of the past – people 18 to 34 are about half as likely to own a receiver/amplifier as those 55 to 64 according to MRI+ data. And while 11 percent of 55 to 64 year olds still have a turntable, only 2 to 3 percent of Millennials own one. Meanwhile, Millennials are about 50 percent more likely to own an mp3 player docking station (with tiny little speakers) and 40 percent more likely to own earbuds than their older counterparts.

The biggest change, however, has come in the area of music festivals. Last year, 14.7 million Millennials attended music festivals. Face-value for Coachella tickets was $349. The festival grossed over $84 million. And brands like Coca Cola, Red Bull and TMobile pony up about $1.4 billion annually in festival sponsorship money. Why? A study by live promoter group AEG and branding company Momentum Worldwide found that 93 percent of those surveyed stated that they liked the brands that sponsor live events. Eighty percent said that they will purchase a product following a music festival experience, as opposed to 55 percent of those who were not in attendance, and those who attended a music festival with brand sponsorship walked away with a 37 percent better perception of the company.

By contrast, Woodstock, the watershed music festival of 1969, was attended by about 500,000 people. Not all of them had the three-day festival ticket that sold for $18. Corporate sponsors? Really?

5 Copy Approaches to Influence Gut Reaction

Call it a gut reaction, but oftentimes our prospects and customers make decisions and respond based on intuition, a hunch, or professional judgment. In direct response, we want quick action. We know if the prospect drifts away from our message we’ll lose them, usually forever. So while the logic and quantification of your sales story may be overwhelmingly in your favor, it can be intuition that turns the prospect away because

 

Call it a gut reaction, but oftentimes our prospects and customers make decisions and respond based on intuition, a hunch or professional judgment. In direct response, we want quick action. We know if the prospect drifts away from our message, we’ll lose them, usually forever. So while the logic and quantification of your sales story may be overwhelmingly in your favor, it can be intuition that turns the prospect away because of something that felt too good to be true, leaves room for skepticism, or an unintended nuance in copy that you overlooked and loses the sale for you.

Even if all the arguments you’ve made in your content are authentically and credibly in your favor, a person’s gut decision often prevails.

And here’s what is frustrating: Studies suggest that often a person’s gut reaction is wrong because it’s subject to bias. Your prospect might overestimate his or her ability to assemble a product, for example. Or may think it takes too much time to read your information, learning materials or book. Perhaps when your prospect has made a mistake related to what you’re selling, he or she doesn’t understand why, or is hesitant to ask for help or feedback. And she or he forgets. That is, customers forget the last time they made a poor decision based on their gut instead of listening to logic.

How do you overcome gut emotion and reaction? You have to help your prospective customers or donors through the decision making process. Do it with these ideas:

  1. Lead your prospect to a sense of revelation. That happens when the obvious in your conscious mind finally learns something that your subconscious mind already knew. Ask yourself: When are you most creative (what you might consider right brain thinking)? For most people, it’s when we are exercising, walking, jogging, listening to music, in the shower, or in an unfamiliar environment. Some of my best ideas have struck me while on vacation, when my mind is suspended from the consciousness of day-to-day responsibilities. Lead your prospect to an awakening.
  2. Give ’em chills. A reaction inside the mind often is accompanied by a physical sensation. It could be chills or goosebumps. For some people, it may be an unusual feeling in the stomach or throat. You can create these physical sensations when copy is accompanied by strong visuals that paint a picture. Music is another way to stimulate a physical reaction. While you can’t pipe in music to printed material, you can use music in video or on your website.
  3. Past experience recall. Your brain’s hippocampus stores long-term memory. Long-term memories are with you for your entire life, unless something comes along to pave new grooves and create a new memory. You aren’t likely to replace past long-term memories, but you do have the opportunity to create another memory that neutralizes a bad memory, or enhance a good memory. Creating new memory is harder to do than drawing on a past memory. When you can, allow your content to take your prospect to a positive place, or hit a negative memory head-on with something so strong you can overcome the negativity.
  4. Challenge the perceptual rules made up in the mind. For some people, changing an ingrained rule is impossible, even if it’s wrong. If when a person can’t articulate why the rule exists, you may be able to use an overwhelming amount of empirical data or statistics from credible third party sources to turn around a rules-based individual. But don’t count on it.
  5. Recognize Patterns and Cross-Index. Help your prospect see something familiar to engage intuitive skills. The more material about your product or service that you can provide to cross-index in the mind, the higher likelihood your prospect’s intuition will kick in on a positive note for you.

You won’t always be able to prevail over intuition or gut reaction, but when you anticipate that probability in your copy, you can turnaround a potential lost sale.

10 Storytelling-in-Content Marketing Lessons Learned

Storytelling lifts content marketing into more powerful messaging. Today we share 10 lessons learned as a result of a content marketing series. This campaign was designed to energize volunteers and a base of followers, build a larger base of supporters and strengthen a brand with the long-term goal of monetization through product and

Storytelling lifts content marketing into more powerful messaging. Today we share 10 lessons learned as a result of a content marketing series. This campaign was designed to energize volunteers and a base of followers, build a larger base of supporters and strengthen a brand with the long-term goal of monetization through product and event sales.

During this campaign, we’ve seen, first-hand, the power of story with diverse styles of video content marketing that included interviews, behind-the-scenes stories building up to a major event, and the high viewership of the final long-form video

Regular readers of our blog may be aware that I am a member of a world-class international Barbershop Harmony Society champion chorus (we recently won our 12th Gold Medal competing among 31 groups from four countries in front of a live audience of 7,000 plus thousands tuning in via webcast). I handle the marketing for the organization (with assistance from Reinventing Direct co-author Perry Alexander). We have the latitude to explore new approaches, and we share them from time-to-time with readers like you.

Because it’s a music-based organization, and because we frequently use video as the primary messaging vehicle, we have come to realize the power of not just music, but overlaying storytelling.

Now that the six-month pre-contest campaign has concluded, we share 10 lessons we’ve learned from this campaign about storytelling and content marketing.

  1. Stimulate interest/earn trust: You audience probably isn’t interested in what you have to sell until you have stimulated their interest and earned their trust in your value to making their lives better.
  2. Give them unusual access: They want to be let in on what’s behind-the-scenes. Video can deliver this experience better than any other channel.
  3. Build tension/release with joy: Like any good story, add an element of tension, but let the audience experience joy. People will remember you for how you made them feel.
  4. Give context in your story: As an insider, it is your responsibility, as a storyteller, to set the stage. Refrain from using acronyms and jargon, so the viewer can appreciate the importance of an upcoming element of the story.
  5. Leverage the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Craft your story so it builds from one part to the next, so your audience, while fearing they’ll miss something, is looking for your message.
  6. Let characters be stars: If you have multiple people in the story, creatively develop a delivery vehicle so everyone can participate. (We had a crazy idea about how to include over 140 people, including myself, in a video. See the result here.)
  7. Put your audience inside the story. Don’t be detached. Invite them to come along with you.
  8. Encourage comments and reviews. Your audience will tell you what they think, so invite participation.
  9. The story dictates length: Many claim videos must be short. Not necessarily true. They must be tightly edited and move the story along. The final video in this series was 36 minutes long, and YouTube audience retention was higher than average, all the way to the end. Use YouTube analytics to reveal where fall-offs occur and to improve your overall storytelling.
  10. Strategically monetize: Think long-term about monetizing content marketing. In this series, coming into the all-important fourth quarter, this audience is pumped, which makes selling performance tickets, recordings and fundraising all the easier.

Beyond building the brand (and winning the contest), tangible results of this six-month campaign include combined video views of over 22,000 (still growing daily), website views spiking by four times over average, consistently strong email open and click rates, Facebook Fan page follower increase of 25 percent, and Twitter follower increase of 27 percent.

Bottom line: You must continue to offer multiple reasons using circular viralocity for people to return to your website. You do that by developing a compelling story and content.

Finally, a word about music and the brain, and why this storytelling campaign was so successful: Recent brain imaging studies are telling us more about the importance of singing or playing a musical instrument than we’ve known before. For instance, if you’re a manager or executive, chances are that as a child you sang or played a musical instrument. A recent study reveals that early musical training can be influential in determining an individual’s success.

And there’s more: Emotions encouraged by music activate similar frontal brain regions, and can have a significant impact on your marketing messaging.

Music has the power to create a pleasurable experience that can be described as “chills.” As chills increase, many changes in cerebral blood flow are seen in brain regions such as the amygdala. These same brain areas appear to be linked to reward, motivation, emotion and arousal, and are also activated in other pleasurable situations.

Storytelling works. The inclusion of relevant music in storytelling can stimulate and take people to desirable emotional places. And if you want reaction, make sure the music “chills.”

6 Video Presentation Tips to Elevate Your Online Marketing

The video you create is but one component of your online direct marketing campaign. Yes, the video is what viewers are driven to—it’s the vehicle that delivers your story. However, without lists, email and landing page copywriting and design, blog comments and posts, social media entries, pay-per-click ads, YouTube advertising, etc., your video

Online Video Marketing Deep Dive co-author Perry Alexander takes over this week while Gary is away.

The video you create is but one component of your online direct marketing campaign. Yes, the video is what viewers are driven to—it’s the vehicle that delivers your story. However, without lists, email and landing page copywriting and design, blog comments and posts, social media entries, pay-per-click ads, YouTube advertising, etc., your video stands little chance to be viewed.

Think of the parallel: We know that without the intentional series of steps to get our direct mail package into readers’ hands, opened and scanned long enough for them to catch the lead, there’s slim chance it’ll make any impact.

Just as the direct mail letter headline and lead must drive the reader to stick with it, so must the first few seconds of your video. Your video must create and instantly set the visual and auditory tone that will draw the viewer through those precious first few seconds and into your story.

My co-author and business colleague, Gary Hennerberg, is the master copywriter of our team and, as he says, I “make stuff look good.” I make sure the story isn’t overshadowed by lousy presentation or distractions, which can repel, or at least divert the reader. Let’s go through some of the ways to make your video command attention—during the first few seconds and beyond.

  1. Bad audio will douse viewers’ interest long before bad video will. Don’t rely on your on-camera mike or, worse, your computer mike. You’ve heard these videos—they sound like they were recorded in a barrel or a cave. Viewer’s interpretation: Your presentation was slapped together, therefore your product or service is, too, so why should I bother listening?
    The Deep Dive:
    If your camera has a mike input, use a lav mike (Gary and I each use a $25 Audio-Technica). If there’s no external mike input on your camera, use a digital voice recorder to record quality sound, either through its built-in mikes or plug the lav mike into it (we both use the same $100 Sony recorder). Then, in editing, sync the audio from both the camera and voice recorder, then mute the camera audio. The mechanics of this are tricky at first, but once you’ve done it a couple of times it becomes routine and your sound is crisp and clear.
  2. Bad video won’t help matters. A webcam video looks like, well, you used a webcam—even an HD webcam. Not only is the image soft, but exposure is usually off, color isn’t great, and what about all that stuff in the background behind you? The message struggles to get out. Again, it screams that your story doesn’t deserve the viewer’s consideration. It’s just a throwaway webcam production about a throwaway idea. What does your viewer do? Click away to something else after just a few seconds.
    The Deep Dive:
    You wouldn’t dream of tossing a half-baked direct mail piece out into the market, expecting it to convince your audience of the value of whatever you’re offering them, would you? Anything that distracts from the message must be stripped away so only the message is noticed. Same with video. Get a $100 Flip or Sony camera and a tripod, or even the latest iPhone. Better: spend $400 for an HD video camera for long-form videos. If your shots are under 5-10 minutes each, use your DSLR. (We use a $100 flip-type camera on Gary’s videos.)
  3. On-camera jitters? Maybe the prospect of speaking into a camera lens is frightening, or at least off-putting. Really, though, after several miserable attempts, you will improve. Evenutally you get to where you imagine you’re just talking with another person in the room, and your fear melts away.
    The Deep Dive:
    Your job is to tell the story. How? Reveal your personality and mastery. Build trust. The call-to-action will produce nothing for you until after that’s all been established. Consider being in front of the camera just long enough to introduce your premise, then moving into slides, charts, photos, graphics or other images that tell your story. That way, you don’t have to memorize a long script. You can refer to notes as you narrate what’s on screen. On-camera script reading is usually deadly, anyway. If you’re on screen for a quick 20-30 seconds, know your stuff. Roll through several takes until you’ve looked that monster in the eye (lens), and said your piece naturally, completely, and with relaxed authority. Now you have their attention and trust!
  4. Stock photos, stock footage, stock music, stock sound effects? You’ve seen the websites with stiff and trite stock photos. Somebody, please explain what that might ever accomplish, because we’ve all seen that picture a thousand times. Filler doesn’t move the story along. But, relevant graphics that work can emphasize a point quickly and vividly. An occasional “foley” sound effect can emphasize a point, just don’t overuse transition swooshes, or they’ll become distracting gimmicks.
    The Deep Dive:
    Map out your storyline. What images will support or clarify what you’re saying? Use images that are specific to your product, service, technique, timeliness, etc. Short of that, invest time finding stock images, footage, music or sounds. It’s all online, and for not much money. YouTube and Vimeo even offer stock music beds you can use at no cost. But be careful in your choices. Be brutal in editing. Anything that distracts or detracts from your story and message, leading to your call-to-action, must be cut.
  5. Go short or go long? Conventional wisdom, born out by YouTube analytics, is that video viewer falloff is precipitous after the first 30 seconds or less. So, does that mean we must never consider creating a 3-minute or, horrors, a 15-minute video? Perhaps. Remember, everything must serve to support the story. Do that right, and they’ll stay with you.
    The Deep Dive:
    Conventional wisdom has always warned us not to use long-form copy in letters. However, seasoned, successful copywriters know that a well-told story will hold interest across 2, 4, even 16 pages. Same with video. Don’t rush to push features, advantages, benefits. Find the relevant hook, then reveal, build and educate about the issue. Lead them to want—then crave—the answer to the quandary or dilemma you’re setting up. Now, the sales copy tastes like good soup.
  6. Editing is half the storytelling. Putting up an unedited video is like mailing the first draft of your letter. It’s probably loose, meandering, dulling to the senses. Resist, revise and remove whatever doesn’t move your story along!
    The Deep Dive:
    Video editing brings clarity and precision to your story. The pace and direction are honed so the viewer is drawn in and held through the call-to-action. It’s an interwoven dance of timing, splicing, movement, color, design, sound, mood and the ruthless removal of what’s not contributing. But, you need two things: A) the knack to know when it’s right and when it’s not and, B) mastery of a video editing program, so you can accomplish your vision.

There’s so much more to cover, but perhaps you’re getting a sense of how online video marketing requires many skills and decisions so familiar to the direct mail pro. Different tools … different vehicles … similar foundational concepts. As always, we invite your comments, criticism or questions.

Drop me an email, and we’ll get you the list of resources, brand names, part numbers and such of what we’ve found works in our ever-evolving video marketing tool chest: perry@acm-initiatives.com

Marketing Best Practices, Grateful Dead Style

OK, I admit it. For a short time in my youth, I could have been considered a “dead head.” Granted, I only attended about 10 “shows,” but I did have a Grateful Dead bumper sticker on my car and wore quite a bit of tie-dye.

OK, I admit it. For a short time in my youth, I could have been considered a “dead head.” Granted, I only attended about 10 “shows,” but I did have a Grateful Dead bumper sticker on my car and wore quite a bit of tie-dye.

That’s why the press release promoting the new book, “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead,” by David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author; and Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, caught my attention this week.

The release read: “Long before the terms ‘inbound marketing’ and ‘social media’ were coined, the Grateful Dead were using these strategies to become one of the most successful bands of all time.”

So true. The Grateful Dead never did much marketing or advertising, but everyone knew them and their music.

It continued: “They made a series of difficult and often unpopular decisions in order to differentiate themselves from their competition by providing the highest quality service to their fans, not just a product.”

I’m sure they pissed off quite a few music publishers by allowing fans to tape their own shows, but they knew that the music was what the fans wanted — and they delivered.

“The Grateful Dead can be considered one giant case study in doing social media marketing right,” said Halligan in the release. “Not only did they pioneer the freemium business model by allowing concert attendees to tape the show, but also encouraged their fans to build a community, and kept them informed via their newsletters.”

“Each chapter presents and analyzes a marketing concept practiced by the Dead and a real-world example of that concept in action today,” according to the release. Specific topics include:

  • Rethink traditional industry assumptions. Rather than focus on record albums as a primary revenue source (with touring to support album sales), the Dead created a business model focused on touring.
  • Turn your customers into evangelists. Unlike nearly every other band, the Grateful Dead not only encouraged concertgoers to record their live shows, they actually established “taper sections” where fans’ equipment could be set up for the best sound quality. The broad exposure led to millions of new fans and sold tickets to the live shows.
  • Bypass accepted channels and go direct. The Grateful Dead created a mailing list in the early 1970s where they announced tours to fans first. Later, they established their own ticketing office, providing the most loyal fans with the best seats in the house.
  • Build a huge, loyal following. The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, a destination where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience.

I never thought about the Grateful Dead as a social media case study before, but it makes sense. Can’t wait to read the book! Now if I can only find my old T-shirt …

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: Ever Hear of Acoustic Branding?

Have you ever head of acoustic branding? It’s the idea of using music, sounds, speech and rhythms to bring a brand to life. I learned about it via an email I received this week from Wilbert Hirsch, CEO and cretive partner of Audio Consulting Group (ACG), which offers acoustic branding strategies. It caught my attention.

Have you ever head of acoustic branding? It’s the idea of using music, sounds, speech and rhythms to bring a brand to life. I learned about it via an email I received this week from Wilbert Hirsch, CEO and cretive partner of Audio Consulting Group (ACG), which offers acoustic branding strategies. It caught my attention.

Of course, it was a PR pitch. But what Hirsch said intrigued me: “More companies are looking for new ways to reach out to their customers. Although digital is the big hype, some businesses have realized that a mute brand stays unheard. Today, there are strategic and creative methods available to help design a living brand — one that communicates through more than one sense.”

I did a little research and found that in the ’90s ACG developed a method for companies to incorporate acoustics (music, sound and speech) into their brand identities, and then to develop strategies for implementation. Basically, ACG says that through an analytical framework, it can match a company’s values and existing visual identity with an acoustic identity. It also claims companies that have used its system have shown improvements of up to 30 percent in brand perception.

ACG says that acoustic branding can work with myriad touchpoints, such as advertising, multimedia, mobile, retail spaces, call centers, websites, podcasts and events. Its clients include UBS (Swiss bank), BMW, Autodesk and T-Mobile.

For Autodesk, for example, ACG developed an acoustic identity that resulted from a detailed analysis of the Autodesk brand and the specific needs of Autodesk University. The acoustic elements are now employed in relevant contact points — phone, video and walk-on music.

While I’ve never really sat down and thought about it before, I guess the music that brands play during trade shows or on their websites does have a sort of subconscious effect on me. What about you? Is this something you’ve experimented with or wish to in the future? Let me know by posting a comment below.