Decisions, Decisions: Choosing music for communications.

So your TV ad is in creative development, and soon it will be time to find the perfect track. It has to be catchy, it has to stand out from the crowd. It also needs to drive recall if the ad is going to perform well in tracking. You could go with a famous track. It will be expensive but instantly recogniseable. Or you could go with an unknown track which is more cost effective, and might be just as catchy as the famous track – but you’ve got no guarantee that will be the case. At Cord we’ve worked with many clients who have been faced with this conundrum…

In a study by Millward Brown: “Two versions of an ad for a mobile phone network were tested. The ads were identical, except for the choice of music. One used a well-known song, Teenage Kicks, the other used a song that had not been a hit. The differences were clear: the Teenage Kicks soundtrack positively benefitted both rational and emotional responses. However,  this  result  is  not guaranteed.  An  ad  for  a  body moisturiser featured the well-known music Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve. It performed well. Two alternative versions were also tested with unknown music. One performed significantly worse, but the other performed as well as the Bittersweet Symphony edit.” So there’s no hard and fast rule. In which case, instead of agonising over whether famous tracks perform better than unknown tracks, Cord like to reframe the debate. Cord’s focus is on identifying the musical elements that best reflect a brand’s personality, elements that can inform all track selection and/or composition on a permanent basis for the brand. We think long-term not just one TV spot at a time. So whatever track you choose this time – famous or unknown – we make sure your choice is in line with a red thread, reaching back into your brand’s music and sound history, and forward to where it wants to be in the future. We have specialist Musicologists who work with Brand Strategists, and a tried and tested process in place to identify your brand’s musical red thread, the output of which are comprehensive Music Guidelines that all stakeholders can easily understand and implement.

Music Guidelines provide brand owners & their agencies with a broad framework whilst ensuring that there’s scope for creative interpretation when it comes to music choices. Guidelines touch on a wide range of topics for instance: key, tempo, genre, structure, mood and instrumentation. For example a healthy, organic food brand might choose to manifest these values of ‘naturalness’ through acoustic instrumentation and live performance – rather than using synthetic, electronic and produced sounds. A traditional, Italian food brand might want to communicate that heritage with a string quartet and operatic vocals. Conversely, if that same brand wants to reposition itself as contemporary and relevant to busy modern lifestyles, evoking historic Italy might not be the right way to go. It might be more appropriate to mirror currently popular sounds. All decisions about music are of course made in full knowledge of the competitive context of a brand, its vision for the future, and the preferences of its target audience. And together with advertising agency Creatives, we ensure we have considered and responded to all nuances of the brand personality.

We’re sure you have Brand Guidelines for art direction and logos already. Now you can follow in the footsteps of the global brands investing in the same for music and sound, the likes of Coca-Cola, Nescafe, Unilever, ITV and Shell to name a few. Interested? Want to find out more? Get in touch!

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