Music as Brand Currency
Music as a brand asset is not a new concept. However the value landscape for music has certainly changed with the advent of technology.
My first hands-on experience developing music for a brand was at Estée Lauder. We hired Sacred Noise to develop some original music for a “makeup how-to” promotional CD. We identified music styles that seemed brand appropriate composed a few tracks, picked one and edited it based on the timing of the visual content. It was purposeful and relevant for the product interaction and reflected the brand persona. It was not about cultural relevancy by association to an artist or song.
At the time there was no music streaming, no You Tube, Spotify, Pandora, ITunes or visibility to every available artist known or not. The Sony Walkman was popular but the iPod didn't exist and music exposure was through radio, song/album releases, and concerts – seeing bands in venues. Consumers paid for music and the big record labels made big money off of successful artists whom they also promoted and distributed. It was beneficial to both parties but an exclusive club. Brands would buy the rights to popular recordings for their commercial campaigns and the artists that sold their music were often seen as “selling-out” betraying the purity of music as an art for the almighty dollar.
Coca-Cola proved that developing your own music jingles was a valuable and own-able asset for a brand and that a jingle could become a mainstream song. Their success with “Buy the World a Coke" produced by Billy Davis in the ground breaking 1971 "Hilltop" television commercial actually became a popular song "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)". You could say that it was a precursor to the music video genre made popular in the 1980’s by MTV. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VM2eLhvsSM
Today in a streamed world where music itself has very little value “selling-out” is no longer frowned upon but viewed as a viable goal as the revenue from physical sales dries up. Consumer expectations, fueled by technology, are for music on demand at little or no cost. This paradigm shift has opened up a multitude of opportunities for brands of all economies and scale to use music as a lovemark – a sensual emotional connection that deepens the relationship and is very personal. There is an understanding that the brand is borrowing the cachet of the artist who also benefits with visibility and financial reward. It gives value to both the brand and the artist.
Collaborations between brands and artist have moved past plastering a brand logo on a performance or a one-off song. Brands have developed strategies that have the artist fully engaged in their brand product. The artists are viewed as brand advocates and companies are hoping for these mainstream artists to put the brand in a good light and boost sales. A great example of this is Bob Dylan and Chrysler – two American icons. Bob Dylan is the storyteller connecting the embedded emotion of everything that has been built by and is great about America. Chrysler role is as the central icon of American pride. It’s no longer about simply bringing an artist on board to endorse the brand it has to be authentic, engaging and the music ties it all together. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlSn8Isv-3M
What role can music play in establishing, maintaining and even growing the equity of a given brand?
As I was writing this article I got in email informing me that P&G everyday now had music. They partnered with Spotify, who has licensing deals with many major music labels and 10 million users, to give you the perfect play lists for whatever you are doing “everyday”. P&G jumped over the idea of aligning with a single artist and went right to the source of music streaming and created thematic play lists for a multitude of activities from the mundane “cleaning & organizing” to the emotional “family bonding” accessed through the P&G everyday site. http://www.pgeveryday.com/tag/spotify
This aligns well with P&G ‘s brand purpose of improving consumers’ lives in small but meaningful ways each day and reinforces their “equity”. Music is relevant to everyone and appeals to their core consumer and also engages a new audience, the millennial. It’s no longer just about a brand that makes it easy to sweep up the floor – P&G has elevated the experience to be a Swiffer and a song – that’s memorable and fun.
VP Branding & Communications UNFI