What exactly is brand alignment? And why is it important for music in business to align with a brand's identity?
In relation to music for business and brand identity, brand alignment is when music in-store matches the messages business or brand owners want to transmit to the public, via the in-store music system.The science behind sensory marketing has always been based on common sense first and also in experiments that formalise proposed theories.
In the case of music for business, there are many aspects to be taken into account: rhythm, genre, tempo, even instruments involved.
If it were possible to weigh these factors, it would be possible to create a perfect mathematical formula that, when entering variables about a business, would yield the perfect music matched to a business’ needs.
The key to determining whether certain music is suited to an establishment is brand alignment between a business’s brand image and the music a business plays.
Put simply, brand alignment is when the music matches the message a business or brand wants to transmit to the public.
To understand brand alignment and how business owners can use this to their advantage we’ve highlighted two examples, in this case retail businesses (shops, stores) and hospitality businesses (hotels, restaurants, bars, cafe’s etc). Using these examples, we can apply conclusions to other business environments.
Retail: Who Does Your Customer Want to Be?
In retail stores, key to positioning, is thinking about the type of person the customer aspires to be when buying the products in-store.
Society has reached a point where stores are judged by types of music they play. This is because auditory marketing performed correctly utilises music as an extension of its brand.
Shops with urban aesthetics will tend to play hip hop music, while brands that use mostly pop music in their stores, tend to be those not geared towards any specific population segment. Their goal is to appeal to a broad demographic, although this strategy tends to be a privilege of brands with established global positioning. Brands failing to match music to their aesthetic risk being caught in no-man’s land.
Most people use music to define identity, especially during teenage years. Clothing holds similar power: we dress as who we are, but we buy according to who we want to be. It can be easier to feel our identity is tied to a type of music than to a style of clothing.
In fashion stores our ears, and the music they hear, helps in the moments when our eyes feel overloaded with choices of clothing.
Hospitality: Experience Over Identity
In hospitality environments, music is less about identities of consumers and more about situations of the moment, which means positioning strategies are different.
Themed restaurants are great examples of how brand alignment is key. In these situations, music is used to add intensity to experiences for the consumer. And no, we don’t mean adding intensity by playing Celine Dion’s greatest hits!
More, if we want to create cosy environments, we have to play cosy music and if we want high-end environments, sophisticated music is our go-to choice.
This can be further illustrated by imagining an Italian restaurant playing French music, which is likely to create a negative impression. In this scenario customers won’t feel a sense of authenticity and perception of quality will be reduced. In the same way, an Italian restaurant playing classical Italian music will create more authentic experiences than if it was playing current Italian hits.
People tend to associate musical brand alignment with a higher perception of quality. A study by Natalie T M Demoulin, showed customers at a French restaurant had better impressions of their food when French music was playing and even gave higher ratings for service.
Applicable to all Commercial Environments
The significance of these cases can be applied to other scenarios once the concept of alignment is clear.
In the examples of fitness centre and gyms, background music has to be energetic to prevent clients from losing focus, but if we consider health centres or hospitals, music should be aligned to the requirements of a more tranquil setting.
Perfect Octave has more than 25 years’ experience of music curation for business. If you'd like us to help align your in-store music for business with your brand identity, get in contact with us.