Do you hear what I hear?
Bells chiming. Birds chirping. That familiar jingle on the radio. The whir of my space heater next to me as I type this very blog. We’re surrounded by noise all the time.
Sounds can influence how people react – hearing a laugh track may make a joke seem funnier, or hearing people cheer for a music group can make them seem more popular and well-liked, and therefore better. Zen music can create a calming, relaxing effect, while horror film music can build fear and anticipation.
Sound certainly does affect us emotionally.
What’s interesting, studies have shown that people of different cultures and languages with vastly different personal experiences and memories often agree on the same emotional reaction to a piece of music. This makes sound a universal language of emotions.
And an important sense to consider when designing your experiential marketing activation!
Music festivals have been a growing trend in the experiential marketing industry. Not only do they give you the opportunity to be part of the crowd and give you a stage for your experience, they are also based around this sense: sound. By associating your brand at the festival experience – and with the music playing there – you can connect with your audience based on shared musical interests. Activated the right way, your brand and your audience’s favorite band become synonymous, so the next time that song plays through their earbuds…you’re there, too.
Beyond music, soundbites such as wind roaring, raindrops falling or children laughing can be inserted into any brand experience when it sounds right. Even spoken messages can add a layer of audio element. The voice actor at an Escape Room who welcomes you to the adventure certainly affects the experience you have and sets the tone for what’s ahead.
One trend in experiential marketing today is the use of VR, or virtual reality experiences. Sound is a huge part of making the illusion seem real. The graphics can be hyper realistic, but without high-quality and stereophonic sound, the illusion can be ruined. New technology, such as binaural recording, allows sounds in VR to seem “3-D” – like they are closer, farther away, behind you or on your side, even though they all come from the headphones. Adding sound effects helps create a more immersive experience.
The sense of sound in experiential marketing is one that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Adding sound to an experience can be as simple as placing speakers around your event space. Or, you can incorporate sound in experiential marketing activations with more complex design. Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Voice Array” installation encouraged participants to speak into a box, and then the light installation processed the sound and combined it with other speakers’ sounds to make interactive art. This same concept could be used at an experience – or you could encourage attendees to make music or other sounds together. Instruments or sound beats could be available for audience participation.
When it comes to sound at your brand experience, keep volume in check. Turn it up too loud, and it could turn away some of your audience members. Turn it down too low, and it might just be ignored as background noise without much emotional connection.
Personalizing the sound of your experience based on your brand’s personality is an important factor in multi-sensory marketing. The sound in experiential marketing should resonate and communicate more than the notes one will hear.
“Brands have to be powered up to deliver a full sensory and emotional experience,” says Martin Lindstrom, author of Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind The Stuff We Buy. “It is not enough to present a product or service visually in an ad.”
Creating an emotional, personal connection with your audience is a way for you to personify your brand and be remembered in a specific way. Activating multiple senses, including sound, can help you create a deeper experience for the consumer. Experiential marketing engages those senses and immerses a consumer into a story using various media or happenings.
To hear specific examples of how the sense of sound in experiential marketing has cut through the noise, download our free guide to multi-sensory brand experiences. If you’re looking for a team of multi-sensory designers to hit play on your next brand experience, we’re hear, errr, here to help.