This post is the first in a series of interviews with experts in the sonic branding sector. And we’re delighted that Aifric Lennon from MassiveMusic, and an alumnus of Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, University of London, shared why she is so excited to be involved in today’s sonic boom. MassiveMusic is the world’s largest creative music agency, renowned for helping global brands become more strategic and effective with the emotional power of music and sound.
What does being a Senior Account Manager and Research Strategist involve?
It’s a really interesting twin role because it combines the exciting challenge of leading the development, rollout and ongoing guardianship of sonic identities for some of the biggest and best brands in the world with a more analytical and strategic research strategy role, which ensures that every step of our creative process is in some way informed and complemented by data and research insight. As part of the role, I focus on ensuring the effectiveness of the sonic assets we develop for our clients. We at MassiveMusic have developed an overarching approach to measuring and optimising effectiveness in sound across all areas of our service offering which is already proving successful for clients and enables us to prove how much sound is contributing to a brand’s health.
How do your MMB studies help you in your role?
My studies at Goldsmiths were a wonderful preparation for my dual role because the programme combines music psychology with cognitive neuroscience alongside modules such as music perception and the more therapeutic side of music psychology. This, combined with my background in Biomedical Science as well as my lifelong passion for music means that I feel totally at home in this role. My data-driven approach at MassiveMusic enables clients to see how the sound choices they make can create powerful emotional connections with their consumers that can deliver a significant and positive impact on the top and bottom line.
Some of the tools we use to ensure that the creative process is informed and enhanced by data include MassiveBASS (Brand Attribute Sound System) which we launched in March in partnership with SoundOut. MassiveBASS, which is the world’s first ever data-driven sonic branding tool, helps remove subjectivity and adds a level of rigour to our audio moodboarding process during the creative exploration phase of a sonic branding project. Other tools we employ include pre-launch testing of unreleased sonic logos/DNA tracks to measure and predict success in recall, distinctiveness and connection to brand personality, as well as post-launch effectiveness tracking.
What do you look for in post-launch effectiveness?
There are a number of things we believe we can influence (if supported by the right kind of media spend) based on existing literature, past client success and our own research in the area. These include:
Recognition/Recall - how quickly and consistently are we building recognition and correct attribution of the sonic identity to the brand in question?
Brand perception - how is the sonic brand affecting perception of your brand/influencing your brand health tracker?
Attribution – how well does the Sonic Logo, DNA track or other related music assets evoke the right brand attributes?
Consistency – how sound can provide a thread of consistency that links different brand assets?
For example, O2, one of our clients, has a truly extensive brand ecosystem that includes everything from TV, Radio, Retail, Customer care and the Priority app to their sponsorship of England Rugby at Twickenham Stadium and their music sponsorships at The O2 Arena and Academies. For O2, the sonic brand doesn’t just provide brand recognition and attribution, it also acts as a consistent sonic thread across all touchpoints. This year, the O2 sonic brand work has been awarded a D&AD pencil which is a testament to not just the creativity of the work, but also the strategic and effective rollout we have been able to execute. That’s why we measure and analyse all of these metrics on an ongoing basis post-launch. It’s also why I found the first SoundOut Index results really fascinating, such as the five attributes that are particularly effective at driving recall.
Where can sound take brands next?
I feel like I am a part of a very interesting and exciting time for Music and Brands. I know from my studies at Goldsmiths just how powerful sound and music can be, but it seems that Brands are finally starting to wake up to this power - audio is definitely having its ‘hay-day’, and it’s about time!
An Ipsos study last year found that audio assets are on average 8.5 times more effective than other distinctive brand assets. And, as each new study is completed, we are gathering more proof of the power of music and sound. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of SoundOut’s latest collaboration with Goldsmiths. If it proves that music increases the propensity to buy, that will further expand the conversation around the tangible value of a sonic brand.
In my opinion, the fact that music has this power to tap into both our conscious and subconscious mind is truly astounding and definitely worth shouting about - in fact, myself and MassiveMusic tend to shout about this quite a lot!
Most recently, I spoke about this on the Harman Audio Talks podcast and through MassiveMusic’s ‘Music x Mind’ initiative which you can check out here. I’m looking forward to continuing to measure and prove how effectiveness testing across the whole lifecycle of sonic development will fuel the constructive use of music to deliver a significant ROI to brands.