Pulling the music lever – how your brand’s soundtrack can move your business up a gear

A brand identity really comes to life when all of its elements are working in harmony. Great food and intimate lighting will only go so far if your music leaves customers cold or confused. So don’t make the mistake that many businesses make, spending all your time and budget on décor, furnishings and lighting, leaving none for the music or sound-system. Music is an emotionally resonant part of the whole experience you’re giving to people. It creates memories; it brings people together; it stimulates production of happy-chemical dopamine in the brain. If you give no thought to the music you play, customers may understandably wonder what else you haven’t given thought to.

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When creating your brand sound, it helps to know the following:

Know Your Music

It may sound obvious at first, but to find a brand soundtrack that really pays dividends for you, you’ll need to fully understand what a ‘soundtrack’ is, and why it’s important. Are we talking about a single song that’s going to represent your entire business, proudly played anthem-like at the start of every day? Well, no. A brand soundtrack is more likely to be a carefully curated selection of music (usually songs but doesn’t have to be), which are a cohesive thing – they’re the same from every angle, they reflect the same values, and they stimulate the same thoughts and feelings.

Your audience will likely dictate whether your soundtrack is songs, instrumental music, or a soundscape – all of which can be highly effective foundations for your brand to be built on. Think for a moment about your audience and what they listen to in their everyday lives, and what they’d want reflected. There’s nothing wrong with your minimalist, modern restaurant having a layered soundscape, highly recognisable and evocative. But it probably wouldn’t be the right choice for your hip new bistro for twenty-somethings.  

Use tempo wisely – it’s a powerful part of any music which can influence how people feel and react in your restaurant. A steady 60-odd beats per minute will mimic a heartbeat and relax people, whilst a tempo at fast walking pace gives a different vibe. Syncopation (music with a deliberate off-beat) could give an edgy, exciting feel. The speed of the music can also affect behaviour too, so if you’re aiming for a brisk through-put of customers, your soundtrack needs to be faster than if you want people to linger at a leisurely pace. 

Know Your Brand

You’ll likely be very familiar with your brand, ethos and what you want to be known for. However, before starting out on any business initiative such as finding the right soundtrack for your brand, it’s worth spending some time ensuring you can define every aspect of it and looking at whether it’s the best it can be. A brand may evolve over time; it may be affected by current events, market conditions, and environmental or regulatory changes. Try thinking of the five or ten words which you would use to make the intangible into something tangible. The décor, food, staff and music should all support this. 

Consistency is key. If you have multiple outlets then each of them will need to be reflecting the brand and its soundtrack in the same way. Even if you have only one site, having consistency of brand sound and feel on each day of the week, or in each room of the site, is equally as important. 

Make sure you know your staff, too. They’re going to be the people most exposed to the music you play each day, and they deserve to have some input too. Your brand identity has to come out in their behaviour and attitudes too, from what they wear to how they greet customers. They’re also the people who interact most with the customers themselves – so they can tell you what they hear, what they see and how they think your business is perceived by the people you serve. 

Know Your Audience

As well as asking what your staff are picking up from your customers, you can also ask the customers themselves. Whether you do a floor-walk, shaking hands and asking how their evening is going, or a discreet survey sent afterwards, make sure you’re listening to them. 

Try to get in their heads – what do they listen to in their everyday lives? What are they wanting to get out of their visit to you? What are the competing factors in their minds when they’re trying to decide where to go, and with whom? 

If you cater for a young, societally-aware clientele, then it’s really important to consider their generational values. They value transparency and social good, and this will influence where they eat. That can be an important consideration for your brand music; that sort of demographic may turn away from controversial artists who don’t seem to share their values. They’ll also be aware that not all musicians are compensated fairly by businesses, so be careful with your music licensing and check everything is above board (Spotify is a non-commercial tool, for example).  

Be aware of how your customers interact with others in their peer group and demographic. For example, young people often share images or video content of their night out with a wide audience. If they’re in a restaurant or bar and their favourite song comes on, they want to share their feeling of togetherness and joy with others. That means potential great publicity for your restaurant, especially if they say where they are and capture a logo or two in shot. Your great brand will be underlined and emphasised by the great music, and the great time they’re having. 

Now more than ever, everyone wants to experience that for themselves. 

To learn more about how you can use music to motivate your employees, engage your customers and increase spend, sign up to our monthly newsletter, or if you’d like to know how Ambie could help your business, book a demo with one of our consultants: