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Transforming brand performance with music

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

To continue our series of interviews with experts in branding and sonic branding, we are delighted to share the thoughts of Max De Lucia, an expert in building brands through sound and one of the founders of the sonic branding agency DLMDD

What did you hope to achieve by setting up DLMDD?

“My co-founders and I all have backgrounds in music and brands, it’s in our DNA if you like. Historically I think it’s fair to say the power of sound has been a bit of an unearthed gem by marketers across the globe. However, that’s changed dramatically over the past few years, and it was a stroke of luck we launched DLMDD just as the sonic tidal wave was about to hit.

“Three years later, we are unbelievably excited by the brand value we are unlocking for global brands. Our work for Singapore Airlines is a great example of our ethos, outlook and vision. This great brief arrived on our desks – how could we translate the new SIA visual identity comprising a stunning Batik floral pattern into sound? And how could we deliver world-class sound at 30,000 feet?

We developed a brand-new piece of AI technology – a one-of-its-kind instrument that translates visual and colour frequencies into their sonic equivalents. This instrument was then played by composer Rohan de Livera who wrote and created over 30 minutes of music entitled ‘The Symphony of Flowers’ The result has been transformational for the Singapore Airlines brand experience.

“Today I think sound is becoming seen as a serious lever that marketing people can pull to deliver brand and business value, rather than just the cherry on a visual brand cake. What’s really exciting is that the C suite now sees sound as strategic. CEO’s see sound as a brilliant way to make the organisation really stand out. And when we involve them in the development of brand sonic, we see them get a real personal connection with the sound.

Why have you developed a strategic relationship with SoundOut?

“When a brand makes an investment in music, a lot of focus usually goes on the creation of the sound. But in our view, how you deploy the sound is as important as the creation. This is important when you consider that for about 90% of the brands we work with, it will be their first serious investment in sound. There are therefore three key questions that clients want answers to:

· Will the sound work?

· How will we use the sound?

· How will it drive effectiveness of our marketing, advertising and brand relationships?

“And that’s where SoundOut comes in. They have the ability to answer those questions for clients. When we first worked with SoundOut they helped us de-risk the selection of different creative options. But now, by using their BrandMatch technology as the foundation for our Ignite service which recently launched, we can provide clients with a data-driven way into the discovery phase for sonic branding. This is incredibly valuable because it removes much of the harmful subjectivity associated with creating brand sound and ensures that the creative phase starts from a position of clarity about which brand attributes the sound needs to bring to life.

“What’s equally exciting is the ability to be able to see the likely effectiveness of the sounds we create before they are launched. Marketers are very keen on measuring the effectiveness of all their marketing investments. SoundOut provides the ability to answer the effectiveness question when it comes to sound. That gives us the ability to inform the discovery phase, guide and affirm at the creation phase and be confident that there will be a healthy return on investment at the deployment phase.

Where do you think Ignite will help take clients?

“Ignite brings together insight from the world’s biggest audience and the creative genius of the world’s best songwriters and producers. It will make music real for clients – help them understand how the sound we create will work for their brand. Until now it’s been very hard for clients to understand why one sound might be better matched to their brand personality than another. Ignite provides the data to prove a match or mismatch between music and the desired brand personality. And it shows how brand archetypes can be brought to life by a famous music track. It’s this rooting in commercial music that helps clients to believe that, because the music can connect with brand archetypes, it will help transport sound based on archetypes into the commercial world.

What appeals to you about the SoundOut approach?

“What I like is that there is no smoke and mirrors. The science is very clear, and the delivery of the insight is very simple and clear. It takes the ethereal quality of music and makes it understandable. I also like the fact that the insight they provide helps clients make choices – to turn left or right if you like. When you bring the magic of what we do together with the clarity of their science, it’s very easy to believe the music will work. I also like that, like us, music is in their DNA and that they have proven that by mapping the explicit emotional DNA of music through their research with Goldsmiths, London University.

Why should brands invest in music now?

“Not using music to bring your brand to life is a bit like driving a car and not being able to use 5th or 6th gear. Sound is a lever you can pull that unleashes more brand power. It can move a brand from the slow lane to the fast lane very quickly and easily. It could be the difference between going left or right on the shop shelf – choosing between Coke or Pepsi.

“Music also has an amazing power to influence our subconscious decisions. The heat map image shows two brains choosing a product. The cool brain on the right is making a subconscious choice of its ‘favourite’ brand with much less processing. While the one on the left is fizzing with explicit processing – literally trying to make its mind up.

“Music is proven to make these subconscious connections for brands. If you think about the impact of triggering a subconscious choice, you’re creating a market advantage at a fraction of the cost of other ways to make the same gain.

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