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Can We Go Back to the Future of Sound?



Shai Hirschson and Marijn Roozemond give insight into the future of sonic technology

Can We Go Back to the Future of Sound?

Brands have a face, a name and a personality, but some are still missing a voice. The feel, tone and attitude of a brand can be captured and heard through a series of carefully-constructed and cleverly-positioned sounds. Some brands have already considered this, but not enough.

Something that Shai Hirschson from GINGER x MassiveMusic and Marijn Roozemond from MassiveMusic Amsterdam also talked about during a webinar for TOA earlier this year, detailing the past, present and future of sonic interactions while discussing the calculated predictions for the future.

Back in the day

As humans, we respond faster to sound than any other stimulus. Second to feeling, sound is the strongest one we perceive. The mind reacts so quickly that the initial response is unconscious. Whether we choose to listen to a sonic stimulus or not, our mind has processed it subconsciously and formed an attitude towards it, meaning it has the power to affect our mood and, subsequently, our behaviour when it is heard or thought of. Therefore, even though the effects were not analysed in detail, societies across the globe began to use sound as a means of attracting attention instantaneously. 

That’s why having sonic power, or influence, should not be seen as an option, but as a necessary element in the development of a brand’s core identity and marketing strategy. In a world where we are immersed in a sea of stimuli, everything from visuals to smells, the auditory sense remains the most effective perceptive tool for differentiating, stating authenticity and conveying a clear purpose. 

​Listening To The Gifts of The Present

The first step is to build an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. Once a relationship has been established, it can be strengthened by repetition and re-exposure to a brand’s sonic communications, thereby reinforcing their attitude.

However, it’s important to pay attention to how this is implemented. When audio is used alongside other cues (like visuals), the choice of sound, audio, song should be seen as the choice of mood. With ads becoming increasingly ambiguous in their communications, audio contextualises the visuals and complements imagery in a way that no other stimulant does. Long story short, choosing the song is choosing the context.

It can be seen from this perspective because music has been proven to have a direct effect on our behaviour and interpretation. The ways in which it’s used vary: we can listen to songs in the workplace for increased productivity, or use white noise in learning environments for maintained focus and improved memory. Even cows produce more milk when listening to music! The underlying message of marketing communications is determined by the inputs that have the most immediate effect on the mind.

The extent to which sound can and will be utilised is almost unimaginable. Today, developers are already aware of our brain’s thought processes and neuro-triggers. For example, we are wired to receive a hit of dopamine (the brain’s hormone associated with the feeling of pleasure) when we eat, have sex or achieve a personal goal.

Sound designers have used audio

to evoke that feeling of achievement by incorporating sound bytes into devices such as phones, computers and other digital gadgets. These sounds all mimic an action or intention related to winning (e.g. Olympic game music, gambling machines, arcade games, applause) which creates a pipeline for dopamine to be received when the action is carried out, making them want more. In this context, the sound bytes serve as distractions from reality; a way for the listener to receive validation, fast.​

The Future Is Hear

Having this kind of hook on a consumer is only the surface of futuristic uses for commercial sounds. We understand that the goal of developing a sonic brand is not to simply make the consumer become accustomed to the brand’s sound, but is more the creation of a medium between what the consumer wants/requires for themselves and what image the brand wants to portray and provide. For example, brands that interact with the consumer using speech will introduce the idea of input learning. The AI of smart speakers can cater to your needs by understanding individual speech patterns better (e.g. vocabulary, tone, speed) and responding to you in a similar, more familiar way. This familiarity builds a stronger bond between consumer and brand, as it humanises the brand while also learning how to serve its user better.

This sheds light on the interconnectivity of today’s technology and the growing need for sonic cohesion and distinction. Devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are among the few smart devices which a consumer interacts with on a daily basis that are connected to their users via the Internet of Things. This refers to the network of Internet-connected devices which exchange information between themselves and the consumer. As this seems to be a trend in the technological world, brands will need to be prepared to understand the depth of this intangible jungle of increasingly-interactive systems. One device, for example, that is becoming more popular and affordable is the virtual reality headset. The consumer is literally strapped into a digital world, which is in the process of becoming another advertising space.

What does this all boil down to? A need for a more in-depth understanding of new soundscapes, its users and acknowledgement of the customisation and narrow targeting used in today’s (and tomorrow’s) market. As the usage of tech in our daily lives continues to rise, so will the opportunities to interact with the consumer. We are reaching a point where brands will have to erase the perspective of communicating with consumers to interacting with them.

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Genres: Music & Sound Design

MassiveMusic Berlin, Tue, 01 Dec 2020 18:10:42 GMT