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The science behind audio branding

Sound is at the core of our existence, literally. It often feels as if new studies are constantly demonstrating the effects of auditory stimuli’s on the human body. Exploration into the fundamental workings of the human brain has uncovered music’s ability to manipulate our most basic and vital functions for survival: digestion, circulation, nutrition, respiration, and so many others. Moreover, Auditory perception is also among the most responsive of all our senses: most humans perceive auditory stimuli more than twice as fast as light stimuli. The constant and ever-growing body of research on the mingling of audio and the human body feels endless. However, our interest lies in the more narrow science of audio’s effects on human psychology; mainly, its ability to affect the decision making process.

The decision making process

Decision making is at the core of advertising. The way consumers form opinions and make choices is crucial to any advertising effort. The main goal is simple: convince a target market to consume a product. Unfortunately, the goal is easier said than done. Fortunately, science has evinced key characteristics that demonstrate how certain stimuli can affect the decision making process. The brain is a complex neurological organ, and cognitive processes are incredibly taxing on the brain. If humans were forced to formulate cognitive decisions about every little thing in their day, they would not get very far. So, our brains use heuristics to bypass the constant need for decisions, avoiding this taxing process. Heuristics are mental shortcuts or subconscious rules that help us make every day decisions. Developing heuristics is key to any advertising effort, convincing consumers to develop mental shortcuts that place your brand over another.

Audio branding and heuristics

Heuristics run central to audio branding and advertisement. Audio branding gives a brand a sonic heuristic, making it easier to subconsciously remember. A consumer will subconsciously draw on this heuristic in the presence of a decision involving the product. By constantly associating the desired images of a brand to the mnemonic, the heuristic develops a stronger image in the subconscious of the consumer. A mnemonic builds over time to make a brand feel familiar. Familiarity is a key heuristic; market research demonstrates that consumers have stronger preferences for brands that are familiar rather than those that elicit uncertainty. And the stronger and more familiar the heuristic, the more likely the consumer will draw on this heuristic first and prioritize a decision involving that heuristic over another. Developing heuristics is key to making consumer deal with subconscious decisions with greater alacrity, paying less attention to competitors.

How can heuristics make us consume?

As consumers, we like to believe that we are in complete control of our decision making, but scientific research seems to confirm that we are all affected by our subconscious biases. The affect of heuristics on decision making process is undeniable. This is a scary thought for many, but whether our decisions are manipulated or not, we perceive personal satisfaction from the side-effects of decisions influenced by positive heuristics. We don’t mind if our biases play a part in decision making because the influenced decisions make us happy. Audio branding is not manipulation, but rather it is the process of creating positive brand associations in the subconscious of consumers that leaves them with genuine feelings of satisfaction when consuming the product. Audio branding is simply the process of guiding a relationship that forms lasting associations, building a rapport between the consumer and the desired image the brand wishes to promote.