How to build your brand identity – and why MUSIC is key

Branding is an important – and exciting! – part of starting or revitalising a business. There’s lots to consider but music could make a big difference.

We surveyed* 2,000 people in the UK in 2022 to find that over nine in 10 (94%) believe music affects their mood, so why not use this to your advantage to create an experience for your workforce and customers, while injecting personality into your brand?

What is branding? 

Our Head of Marketing & PR, and branding guru, Bethany Grundy explains: “Every company has a brand; it’s part of a product or service that demonstrates a business’ benefit to consumers. A brand is made up of a range of characteristics – be it colour schemes, fonts, customer service and even music – that makes it distinctive from its competitors. Branding is a crucial part of why a consumer chooses to purchase your product or service over anyone else selling the same thing.”

Why is branding important?

It’s natural to de-prioritise branding amid other business priorities but, ultimately, it will help you stand out and be memorable. For example, you can get ketchup from various brands, but we imagine Heinz sprang to mind because it’s synonymous with the red sauce. Good brand building may also help you appeal to untapped audiences and, in time, grow your customer base.

Beth continues: “You can shape how customers see your business through branding. Consider what you’d like to be known for and how you want to make them feel when they see, then buy, your product. Knowing they’ll be satisfied gives both the consumer and the business the confidence that repeat purchases will be made. When it comes to growth, there’s both a commercial and team incentive. Candidates seeking a new job might prioritise sending a CV to you over a competitor or factor in branding when considering whether to sign a contract.”

What are the components of a brand? 

Building a brand strategy requires you to consider various aspects such as[4],  

  • Brand vision – what you want your brand to be 
  • Brand positioning – how you present your brand
  • Brand proposition – the benefit you offer your target audience
  • Brand values – what you stand for
  • Key messaging – what you want to be known for

How do I start branding?

Decide on style and tone

These are a set of standards and formats to reflect across everything to be recognisable. Design-wise, this includes your logo and font. Your words should follow a distinct tone-of-voice. Doing so could grab attention and see customers buy into your story then your product [5].

The tone of your brand typically connects to its personality. If you’re a retailer targeting Gen Z, consider a casual approach. If you offer health and medical services, you might want to cultivate empathy or communicate formally to demonstrate authority.

Lean into your audience's senses

[6]

  • Sound:This is the key to raising brand awareness. A jingle or famous song (in a radio or TV advert, for example) can bring the brand to a customer’s mind (think Jet2 and its association with the Jess Glynne song ‘Hold My Hand’)
  • Taste: For example, a restaurant or café might offer a secret sauce in a specific dish, while a soft drink brand may launch several unique flavours
  • Touch: Packaging or a product that’s a certain shape or texture makes a difference. It also has accessibility benefits for people who are visually impaired
  • Scent: Have you ever walked past or into a cosmetics shop that’s so beautifully fragranced you linger a little longer, dreaming of a spa or bubble bath? Or past a restaurant that makes your mouth water? Our sense of smell is closely connected to the brain’s limbic system which regulates emotions and memories[7] so it can have a powerful effect on a customer
  • Sight: The right lighting and décor simply makes your venue a nicer place to be. It may be that a customer that browses for longer is tempted to buy more

What is the power of music in branding?

Experience is critical to branding. Here are the benefits of playing music in your business to help create a positive impression:

  1. Enhances the environment 

Music can help to build an atmosphere – whether it’s chill-out tunes to recreate an Ibiza feel in your bar or upbeat pop because you’re a fun retail brand. Our 2022 survey of 2,000 people* revealed that over half (53%) find it less enjoyable when a venue isn’t playing music. Worse yet, 38% leave if they’re greeted by silence 

  1. Boosts customer engagement 

Music can positively affect mood. You might find customers browse for longer – and even spend more – as they enjoy the experience. Our 2022 survey data* further found that pop music spurs them to splash extra cash

  1. Helps customer loyalty and retention

Word-of-mouth is a powerful form of advertising. A happy customer is more likely to walk back through your doors and spread the word, supporting sales

  1. Helps you stand out from the competition 

Carefully curated playlists that relate to your business can distinguish your brand – especially compared to competitors that don’t play music. Oliver Bonas masters this by carefully handpicking the tracks that soundtrack the store experience

  1. Boosts employee engagement 

Our 2023 survey of 1,000 UK citizens** showed that most (90%) of workers feel more confident in their ability when music is playing, so filling their environment with tunes may help to improve the efficiency and quality of their output. Studies[8] reveal that people who listen to music are likely to have lower cortisol levels, which reduces feelings of stress[9]

  1. Attracts new audiences 

Music playing could entice new customers. You’ll potentially tap into multiple age groups if a family, for example, works through the door  

  1. Supercharges seasonal sales

The music you play could reflect seasons, events and trends, encouraging consumers to make related purchase decisions. Take Christmas, for example. Our 2023 survey of 500 people*** highlighted that over half (52%) of people feel happier when festive music is ringing through the airwaves, while 15% of shoppers shared they’re more likely to buy more  

  1. Creates a feel-good factor 

By learning which style of music heightens that ‘feel-good’ factor, you could create a space which is as much known for its atmosphere as it is for its excellent service. Research[10] by the University of Oxford unearthed that, because music provides a beat which our ears use as an overall framework to soundtrack our surroundings, it can spark the release of endorphins (AKA happy hormones). Fascinatingly, these come alive during when multiple people are doing similar tasks, like browsing your store  and passively listening to music

Music can ultimately be an extension of your identity so consider a playlist that reflects your vibe. One business that’s excelling here is popular hospitality chain The Botanist. Luke Geoghegan, Head of Music at the New World Trading Company (NWTC) shares how playing music has shaped their biggest brand:

“For The Botanist, having a musical identity is a massive part of the brand.  

“Our choice of music can reflect and improve the quality of the experience for the customers, just as we find with things like décor and lighting, and customers walking in can immediately get a sense of the atmosphere.  

“Our musical identity is tailored to attract people between the ages of 19-65 – with 24-35 being our key target – who want to come in for a drink and a meal. For this we settled on a mix of genres like RnB, pop, indie, and classic soul to create our “all killer, no filler” playlists. Sometimes we’ll be introducing customers to new music throughout the day, but we play recognisable hits through the evenings and weekends that we know our customers will enjoy.  

“I think that music should be at the absolute inception of any brands that are starting in the hospitality industry – just like you would when you’re thinking about what menu you’re going to develop for your food and drinks, or what space you’re going to operate in.”

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