BrandMusiq Founder, Rajeev Raja talks about the company’s new platform ‘BrandMusiq LABS’ and the future of sonic branding

We’re in a content-eats-content world where social media has brands fighting to be seen and heard. Yet, most haven’t cracked the code on what builds brand loyalty and memorability.

Rajeev Raja, founder of BrandMusiq talks about the future of sonic branding, the new platform ‘BrandMusiq LABS’ and the importance of building strong brands today. 

So Rajeev, how would you describe BrandMusiq LABS?

BrandMusiq LABS is going to be a platform that essentially explores the fundamental nature of sound and music and its impact on human behaviour and emotions. As a sonic branding agency, we want to get an empirical understanding of how different scales, harmonies, rhythms and instruments impact human beings. And we apply this knowledge in our day-to-day building of sonic identities for brands.

“Consumers will respect brands that aren’t shouting to be heard. And sound is going to be essential in building brand love and intimacy”

How does BrandMusiq LABS explore the nature of sound in relation to branding?

BrandMusiq LABS serves as an innovation funnel for brands. At one level we’re talking of how sound affects human behaviour and emotions. We then apply that FOR THE BENEFIT OF BRANDS. We’re also saying that there are so many innovations happening in the world of sonic branding. The convergence of technology, sound, customer behaviour, ecommerce, notifications, alerts, apps and how consumers interact with it… all of this will be a subject of study in BrandMusiq LABS.

How does adding a sonic dimension enhance our current understanding of brands and consumers?

With different explorations of music and sonic experiences, we explore sound in a whole new dimension. BrandMusiq LABS will essentially have an academic mindset. It will not be linked to any revenue objectives. It will be a pure exploration of sound. 

Can music move beyond its role in branding? For eg, what impact does music have during war? Can music be used to de-stress people? What about the whole area of wellness music and therapy? We’re building knowledge about brands and consumers in an environment where the approach is scientific.

How does sound change our perception of things?

For instance, we’re exploring how the sound affects your tasting experience. What role does music play in a food tasting environment? Does it actually influence taste? So, if you’re in a fine dining restaurant, and you play rock ‘n roll, is it incongruent with your experience? We’ll be looking at various aspects, all of which have implications for brands, and beyond. We could be looking at social projects, using sound, to change social behaviour. So, that’s really what BrandMusiq LABS is all about.

So, does BrandMusiq LABS redefine our understanding of sound? And why is it relevant today?

I’ve been in the corporate world for many, many years where there’s a far greater degree of predictability and comfort. Now, having founded BrandMusiq and having steered it for the last 10 years, we felt the need to give back to the industry. Ergo, BrandMusiq LABS.

Things are moving so fast, that the present and future are very often interacting with each other. What you think is the future, is suddenly your present. The whole idea is to be proactive rather than reactive. We need to prepare for the future, even while managing the present. So, BrandMusiq LABS is really about giving us a window to the future.

“The way I see the future of sonic branding, that it’s going to evolve from branding to non-conscious brand experience. From mere recognition to unlocking brand emotion”

What do you want your audience to ultimately take out of the BrandMusiq LABS sessions? 

We want them to be more informed about the power of sound, the potential of sound, and how important it is as a strategic and long-term brand asset and not just a sound mnemonic. It’s a ground where science meets art.

There’s a scientific temper to our thinking (BrandMusiq LABS) which gets translated into an artistic expression (BrandMusiq). 

What do you see as the future of sonic branding?

The way I see the future of sonic branding, that it’s going to move from branding to non-conscious brand experience. From recognition to unlocking brand emotion. We’re saying the opportunity is to use sound strategically. Used well, your brand will not just be recognised, but will be felt. With a sonic identity, you’re bringing a sensorial dimension to brands that has never been harnessed, hitherto, in a strategic, measurable way. So, another aspect of BrandMusiq LABS is going to be the whole exploration of ROI (return on investment). So brands can track how impactful their sonic spend has been.

“Sonic branding can be a very important aspect in bringing in brand love and intimacy” 

What ways should brands use this knowledge to build themselves better?

Branding is going to move from overt and in-your-face to non-conscious branding. 

Let’s call it ‘UNbranding’

Because, the consumer today is basically saying, “I’m not sure I’m in love with brands anymore”. And sonic branding can be a very important aspect in bringing in brand love and intimacy.

Consumers are going to respect brands that are not in your face, that aren’t shouting to be heard.

Brands will move from selling to serving. That’s the BIG change. Therefore, everything points to much more subtlety, more sincerity in branding. And we believe that music can achieve that for brands. It is our firm point of view that if we create the sound of a brand responsibly, true to the brand’s essence and DNA, then you’ve got a very strong sensorial that you can imbue your brand with, wherever your brand is heard, across the digital media ecosystem, online, offline or on-ground. 

BrandMusiq LABS launches on 6th April, 2022 only on Linkedin.

Subscribe to our Linkedin page for more. 

3 Reasons Brands Must Use TikTok And Reels To Boost Their Sonic Identity

Welcome to the TikToksphere and Reelsverse.

The ‘sound’ platforms where everything is quick, viral and highly addictive. 

The beauty of these sensorial worlds are they have managed to capture and consume our attention with the ‘sound-on’.

Unlike other platforms where most of us consume content on mute,  

73% users will only notice brands with strong sonic identities. 

Not only that, but in the last 2 years, campaigns on TikTok and Reels have become essential in giving artists global status, or getting discovered BIG TIME. 

Take the careers of LIL NARS X, DOJA CAT and Olivia Rodrigo, for example.

Their songs ‘Industry’, ‘Kiss Me More’ and ‘Déjà vu’ respectively, became overnight global chart toppers!

But was it really their music? 

Or the fact that their music, AKA their sonic identity, really resonated with audiences?

It’s becoming more evident as we go on, that customers today seek to connect with brands on a deeper and more responsible level.  

But should this compel brands to leverage such ‘sound’ platforms?

Here are 3 compelling reasons.

Reason 1: Brings Your Brand To Life

Just like you have logos, a defined visual story and tonality it’s equally important to establish your MOGO ®, or musical logo.

If there’s anything we can learn from Gehraiyaan’s music release– the formula for a successful campaign is to be really creative with audio strategy. Before its release on Amazon PrimeVideo, they launched ‘Doobey’ as an Instrgram Reel filter, which permeated across people’s lives and social feeds. 

Travellers, chefs, fashionistas, writers, small and big businesses rushed to merge these tunes with their content. This not only made it the most shared track within the first week of its release but created a really strong sonic identity for the movie. 

Reason 2: Keeps Your Brand Relevant

How can you explain the 1958’s song ‘Put Your Hand On My Shoulder’ by Paul Anka getting so famous in the last 6 months? 

People experience content in TikTok and Reels very quickly. 

So it’s a great opportunity for brands to create digital sonic assets that experiment with sound to stay relevant and fresh.

Reason 3: Creates a Top Of Mind Recall. Everytime

In TikTok’s Insight Report, “68% users said that they’d recall a brand much better when they use music they like”. 

This is because music and sounds are known to trigger memories and emotions that customers will use to remember your brand. 

While finding clutter-breaking tunes for your brand will help, thinking about the long-term versatility of the sound in such platforms will help your brand stand out. 

SOURCES

1.    https://vamp-brands.com/blog/2021/08/20/infographic-how-brands-can-use-music-in-their-tiktok-campaigns/

2.    https://www.massivemusic.com/en/blog/detail/why-brands-should-invest-in-music-sound-on-tiktok

3.    https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/tiktok-shares-new-insights-into-the-importance-of-audio-in-brand-marketing/616633/

4.    https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/gehraiyaan-music-review-instagram-reels-make-the-songs-float-on-surface-but-were-they-ever-meant-to-plunge-deeper-10356581.html

‘Kiss Me, Close Your Eyes And Miss Me’.

4 Brand Jingles That Wooed Us With Their Sounds Of Love

We all have a favourite jingle of love. And if you’ve grown up watching ads, we can agree that certain brands have cracked the ‘sonic code to love’. 

Whether it’s finding romance in moments with Cadbury Silk’s ‘Kiss Me’, or feeling nostalgic love with Vodafone’s ‘You And I’, some brands have pioneered the space of romantic jingles in advertising. Here are our top 4 picks. 

The Song Of Romantic Moments

Cadbury Silk – “Kiss Me, Close Your Eyes And Miss Me”

Delightful. Innocent. Memorably romantic. 

Cadbury Silk’s jingle has wooed fans since 2010, and captured love in different moments. It’s the tune that reflects modern Indian life and how love can be shared in the most unexpected moments. Ask any ad nut, and they’ll tell give you a hundred different reasons why they LOVE this tune

A Jingle Of Modern Romance 

Coke – ‘Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho” 

An interesting fact about this ad jingle, it’s actually a remixed version of an old Bollywood song. Created for one of Coke’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaigns, it’s a tune of modern age love with a twist.  

The Sound Of Flirtatious Love 

Close Up – “Paas Aao”

Close-Up has always been known for their ‘minty-fresh’ toothpaste. But more than that, their ‘Paas Aao’ campaign from the early 2000s, introduced us to the jingle of flirtatious love. Capturing various moments of playful romance, this was a tune that represented a new generation of love.  

The Tune Of Everlasting True Love

Vodafone – “You and I”

When Vodafone (then Hutch) launched their brand campaign, ‘You and I’ became an overnight phenomenon. The simplicity of the tune with the meaningful lyrics, stole our hearts and ears, and could be heard everywhere!

Would these brands consider elevating these love songs from mere jingles to a long term sonic identity?’

Let us know your thoughts.

Did you know that James Bond’s classic audio signature has Indian roots?

By Kerissa Lalkaka

The theme, composed by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry, features in every James Bond movie produced by Eon Productions since their first movie, Dr No, in 1962. The iconic guitar riff, “dum di-di dum,” was borrowed from a previous composition of Norman’s, called “Good Sign Bad Sign.” Norman wrote the song as part of an abandoned stage musical based on V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas, which follows the life of a Hindu Indo-Trinidadian. You can clearly hear the Indian classical music influence in the original song, played on the sitar and tabla. When he was asked to compose the score for the first Bond film, he removed the Indian sound and presented it to the producers. Initially unhappy with what they heard, they brought in John Barry, who transformed the piece with his arrangement while retaining the riff. 

The tune, reminiscent of the Indian Classical Raag Bhairavi, evokes feelings of excitement and suspense. It is an intrinsic part of the identity of James Bond as a franchise and character and has inspired other film scores of the same genre. A truly successful case of sonic branding, hearing any part of the theme conjures thoughts of action and espionage. 

Listen to Monty Norman sing the history of the James Bond riff in his song “Dum di-di dum”

How Sonic Branding Strikes an Emotional Chord

By Kerissa Lalkaka

Think of your favourite song. Does it give you chills? Does it help you relax? Remind you of a particular time in your life? Make you smile, or make you cry? 

Music transcends the realm of entertainment. It can enhance our sense of well-being and elicit powerful physiological reactions like goosebumps or a change in heart rate. Thanks to your neurological responses, music can improve emotional regulation by influencing mood or providing a cathartic outlet when processing complex, distressing feelings. Music triggers the release of neurotransmitters associated with reward, like dopamine, and involves the same areas of the brain as other forms of pleasure. 

Though emotional reactions may vary from person to person, music evokes responses at a universal level as well. Listening to your favourite song probably triggers emotions and memories specific to you. However, if you, or anybody, were to hear a song for the first time in a Major key, you would interpret it as sounding happy. Play it again in a minor key, and it becomes melancholy. That’s just one way a song could be manipulated to convey a different feeling.

Here’s a great example of how transposing a happy tune into a minor key and switching up the rhythm completely transforms the piece –

Musicians make deliberate choices with the style, instrumentation, and scales used in their compositions to communicate a specific message or sentiment. They might base a happy song on the major pentatonic scale. In addition to sounding joyful, this would appeal to an international audience as the use of pentatonic scales is popular worldwide. When they want a dark and mysterious sound, the diminished scale could work as the base. A sad and sentimental song could be based on a natural minor scale. In turn, the behaviour known as emotional mimicry causes listeners to mirror the emotions that the music expresses. 

That’s why sound is the most powerful tool your brand can use to form an immediate emotional bond with your customers. A well-crafted sonic identity not only conveys the essence of your brand but also creates long-lasting positive emotional associations. Every time your customer hears the tune, they’ll remember what the brand stands for and more importantly, how it makes them feel.

Jingle vs. Sonic Identity

By Kerissa Lalkaka

Jingles have always been an indispensable part of advertising. They’re catchy and represent what a brand is all about while creating a positive association with the product. For example, Washing Powder Nirma. It tells you exactly what the product is with a fun, upbeat tune. If you hear “Sippin’ on Bacardi Rum,” you think of relaxing on the beach, drinking with friends.

Despite jingles being memorable, a simple 30-second song is not effective enough to stand out in today’s oversaturated digital market. To have a lasting impact, you need a cohesive sonic identity. 

Though it may seem like we spend our entire day glued to our phones or laptops, many are now trying to decrease screen time as much as possible due to screen fatigue and instead turn to audio-only services such as Spotify and Clubhouse for entertainment. Traditionally visual social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, have launched audio-only platforms as well. Sound is the only way to reach users of these apps, especially those that listen on smart speakers. 

On short-form video-sharing platforms such as Instagram Reels, Youtube Shorts, and TikTok, the audio needs to grab and hold your attention immediately while effectively conveying a message in a matter of seconds. The right sound can instantly trigger brand recognition.

That’s why a sonic identity is a major branding upgrade. Designed using the science of sound to capture the brand’s essence and personality, it serves as a musical counterpart to a brand’s visual identity. You may hear a jingle in a TVC or on the radio, but you’ll notice various aspects of the sonic identity at all possible earpoints (audible touchpoints). What you hear when you call a customer service line and you’re on hold; the sounds incorporated in-app and online; the music that plays in-store; these are just a few applications of a sonic identity. 

Specific uses vary from industry to industry, but the purpose remains the same. Instead of a jingle used only in commercials, a sonic identity employs a holistic approach that regularly reminds the consumer of the brand’s identity before, during, and after purchasing a product or service to forge an enduring emotional connection. The digital era is forcing brands to realize that a sonic identity is not just “nice to have,” it’s a “must-have.”

SONIC BRANDING |  JINGLE VS SONIC IDENTITY | THE DIFFERENCE  | SOUND LOGO | BRANDMUSIQ

Is the death of the display ad a certainty?

By Kerissa Lalkaka 

When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad on purpose? According to Solve Media, an advertising consulting company, you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. 

In the early days of banner display advertising, it was possible to get a 50% CTR (click-through rate). Thanks to banner blindness, the phenomenon of people ignoring and looking past banner ads, a 50% CTR is unheard of nowadays. These ads can be annoying and disruptive and often get overlooked by internet users. According to Google Doubleclick, the average display ad CTR is now 0.1%. 

In addition to banner blindness, another advertising obstacle brands face is the growing popularity of ad-blocking software. A study by Hootsuite found that 42.6% of internet users worldwide use ad blockers.

Source: Hootsuite (Infographic from https://backlinko.com/ad-blockers-users)

As more consumers are actively avoiding ads, it’s time to question the traditional advertising methods. The average person is estimated to be bombarded with between 6,000 to 10,000 ads daily. 

The best way to stand out from the crowd is with a sonic identity. Many consumers ignore most types of advertising if they can help it, but music can reach your target audience even if they aren’t paying attention. Using thoughtfully crafted sound as part of a holistic approach efficiently conveys your brand’s message and values while forging an emotional connection with the customer and increasing brand awareness.

Display advertising isn’t going away, but it is no longer as effective as it once was. Incorporating a sonic branding strategy into your marketing plan is the best way to cut through the clutter and make an impression.

SONIC BRANDING | DISPLAY ADS | TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING | SOUND LOGO | BRANDMUSIQ

The power of positivity. As in music, so in life.

By: Rajeev Raja

The year was 1986. And our band Colossus in Bangalore had built a pretty good reputation for itself in the Jazz-Rock space.

But never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate what was to happen next.

To our absolute delight we were invited by the organising committee of the first ever Jazz Yatra in Bangalore, to open the festival as it was the tradition to kick off with a local band.

 Needless to say we had millions of butterflies fluttering and dancing merrily in our stomachs as the day dawned bright and clear.

Performing on the same stage as us were some giants of Jazz such as the famous pianist Kenny Baron and we were pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t in a dream. The sound check went off without a hitch and and we were nervously waiting for the curtains to go up.

Suddenly we heard a commotion backstage. An Australian Jazz band, whose delayed flight kept them from being present at the sound check, were complaining in typical Aussie manner with a few cuss words being thrown around.

Curious to see what their problem was we gathered around and discovered what their grouse was. The piano was tuned a semi-tone or half note lower from concert pitch. The rest of the band were refusing to play as their material was fairly complex and transposing on the fly to compensate for a differently tuned piano was a virtual impossibility.

It was at this moment when things hung perilously in the balance, that a remarkable thing happened. The leader of the band, who was also the pianist, stepped up and said in a quiet voice: “Easy lads. Let’s not lose our sense of humour. I’ll transpose as we play”.

I was stunned. This was true leadership. Calmness in adversity. And later while watching them play a magical concert I realised that one’s approach to life defines how well one participates in it.

Through the years as a creative director in advertising and as a musician performing in India and abroad, whenever I’m faced with an impossible situation and everybody around is losing their cool, these words always play in my ear:

“Easy lads. Let’s not lose our sense of humour”.

This blog is about my musical experiences over the years and the different life lessons I’ve gleaned from them.

SONIC BRANDING | POWER OF POSITIVITY | POWER OF SOUND | AUDIO BRANDING | BRANDMUSIQ

The power of five : the unifying quality of the pentatonic scale and the role of music in creating a sense of community and belonging

By Rohini Raja

Communication or language at the heart of its existence in culture is about a feeling of one-ness. It’s role in creating one-ness and a sense of community between people, has been ruled by community agreement. Community agreement is a state in which a community comes agrees upon the meaning and association of words within that said community.

Conflict usually occurs between cultures because of the existence of diverse communities within that culture with differing community agreements. How then does one find a common emotional and cultural language for all of humanity to truly feel a sense of belonging to each other?

Could music be the answer ? 

Music has its own language based on community agreements too. It is made up of 3 fundamental elements : melody, harmony and rhythm. The melodies and harmonies are derived from 12 distinct pitches that are organised into scales.  While there are different cultural expressions of music using these scales, we have discovered a fundamental scale which has universal appeal across most cultures. 

This is the Pentatonic scale; unique scale that is made up of only 5 notes, and yet interestingly, has great unifying powers and cross cultural resonance. Some of the greatest global hits of all time have been built around the Pentatonic scales.

In an interesting session on science and music, Bobby Mc ferrin introduces an unsuspecting audience to the wondrous and powerful universality of the Pentatonic scale. He starts with giving the audience two notes and then has them spontaneously sing the third one. And everyone sings the same note together feeling instantly connected. He then talks about how in every session that he’s conducted across the world he has received this universality of response.

Here’s a thought. With only 5 notes, it is truly possible to communicate to the entire human race in one voice. The power and magic of music and this scale comes alive, in cutting across language barriers and walls that divide and separate us both culturally and emotionally and creating a universal intuitive yet scientific language of communication. This forms a deeply pure and spiritual collective sense of one-ness and belonging in the world that no other medium can truly create.

SONIC BRANDING | PENTATONIC SCALE | POWER OF SOUND | BRANDMUSIQ

Remember when Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder got together to create awareness for AIDS?

That’s What Friends Are For

By: Rohini Raja

In 1985 Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder came together to release a charity single called “That’s What Friends are For”, for the American Foundation for AIDS research. The album raised over $3 million for the foundation and landed at #1 for four weeks on ‘The Billboard Hot 100’. It even culminated into a 1990 benefit concert, ‘That’s What Friends Are For Arista Records 15th Anniversary Concert’, which raised over $2.5 million for various AIDS organizations.

Music and sound are very interestingly integral to the evolution of human consciousness and the elevation of society. This particular musical movement paved the way for inclusivity, love and acceptance to become pillars of the modern-day social fabric. And all through the power of sound! Who would have thought! So the next time you hear a sound or a song, think to yourself, how has this led to my evolution as a person towards being more compassionate and inclusive towards people different from me? 

This World AIDS Day, we salute these music heroes for their contribution towards society through the powerful medium of sound. 

Keep smiling, keep shining

Knowing you can always count on me, for sure

That’s what friends are for

For good times and bad times

I’ll be on your side forever more

That’s what friends are for

Article reference: ’12 Songs About HIV/AIDS That Were Part of a Movement’

By Tracy E. Gilchrist

SONIC BRANDING | WORLD AIDS DAY | POWER OF SOUND | BRANDMUSIQ