Music - consciously and unconsciously - plays a big role in our lives. Chances are you listened to music on your way to work this morning. Maybe you're listening to your favourite Spotify list right now, or you're having to put up with your colleague's awful taste in music. Music is present in our daily lives at many different times and for many different reasons. As a brand, you can make smart use of the effect of music, for example, by reinforcing your commercial or loading your brand. In order to find out the influence of music in creation, Validators and VodafoneZiggo conducted an experiment. Facial coding and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) were used to map out the differences in brand perception for different types of music.

Sound as an important Distinctive Brand Asset

If we look at different distinguishing brand elements, Byron Sharps' well-known Distinctive Brand Assets, sound turns out to be the most effective. Yet this asset is used by only 8% of all brands (Ipsos Views, 2020). Brands tend to focus mainly on visual cues. Unjustified, because by involving as many senses as possible in your creation, as a brand you are better able to break through the 'ad clutter' and create engagement with your consumer. (Mark Ritson, Marketing Week 2021).

Source: The power of you, Ipsos Views 2020

Music has been proven to produce physical effects. For example, music affects your heart rate, blood pressure and listening to it can evoke certain memories and feelings (Leaver et al, 2009). Because of these physical effects, music can be used to help people focus better, improve sports performance and reduce stress (Avinash et al, 2017). Music has a great effect on our mood and therefore plays an important role in conveying emotion. The stronger the emotional response, the greater the chance of being remembered by the consumer.

Develop a unique auditory identity

Which music you like to listen to probably depends on what you are doing and how you feel. Just as not every type of music fits every type of place and time, not every type of music fits every brand. Which music suits your brand depends on your identity and what you want to project. What do you stand for as a brand and which brand values fit this best? Then you can look for sounds and music that best convey your brand values. Take your competitors into account. How do they sound, and how can you distinguish yourself? By having a clear idea of the emotion you want to convey with your brand or commercial, you can make a well-founded choice for music or, for example, a sonic logo.

Music as an extra layer of attention

People are visually oriented. 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual. Sound can confirm or challenge this visual information. A barking dog in your commercial will not attract nearly as much attention as a barking cat. So sound can help you break through the 'ad clutter'. Besides confirming or challenging, sound can also give us extra information about the environment. In a black visual with outdoor sounds in the background, sound provides information that does not confirm or challenge the visual, but complements it.

Our experiment

But how strong is the effect of music on emotion in commercials? To answer this question, VodafoneZiggo conducted an experiment together with Validators. Several variants of a commercial were studied in which only the background music was adjusted.

The experiment consists of testing two commercials with two different pieces of music to investigate the effect among the same target group of 100 respondents (n=400). The respondents then cooperate by turning on the web camera so that facial expressions can be read. Facial coding is, next to EEG and fMRI, one of the scientific neuro tools to determine emotion objectively. Below you will find a print screen of the EmotionFlow online analysis software from Validators.

Finally: contribution of music

The experiment shows that the right music is able to evoke 19% more positive emotions ('happiness') from the consumer. This can be seen in version B. We already knew that music is important, but this brings us a step closer to making the music effect concrete. Given the fact that emotion has a direct positive effect on memory, this is a very important measure of effectiveness.

"It's extremely interesting to see how much impact music has on emotion and other KPIs. We will definitely continue with this", says Celesta L├╝cker - Swart, Sr Market Insights Consultant at VodafoneZiggo.

Curious about how you can optimise your creation to achieve optimum effect? Contact for all pre-test possibilities.

This article also appeared on MarketingTribune.