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聲音計算來臨,品牌營銷需要音樂

Jennifer Alsever 2020年01月07日

現在,至少40%的美國人家中擁有智能音箱,人們通過語音進行網購、搜索信息。

過去一段時間,萬事達卡的首席市場營銷官拉賈·拉賈曼納一直在尋找一段能讓人印象深刻、百聽不厭的完美旋律。曲調要符合210個國家和地區的審美,能夠根據地域特點及消費場景進行微調,同時還應該具有極高的辨識度,無論是在廣告結尾,還是在公司電梯里,甚或是使用亞馬遜Alexa進行交易時,都能讓人立刻辨識出這是萬事達卡的品牌聲音。最重要的是,它能夠給人帶來心靈上的平靜。

一找就是兩年。

正因為我們處在一個語音計算革命的時代,拉賈曼納為之全力以赴的理由非常充分。現在,至少40%的美國人家中擁有智能音箱,人們通過語音進行網購、搜索信息。據Gartner Research的研究顯示,到2020年,全球互聯汽車保有量將達到25億輛。63%的“物聯網”中包括像智能洗碗機和恒溫器這樣的應用設備。聯網設備與消費者的交互將無處不在。拉賈曼納表示:“世界正進入語音交互時代,我們可不想落后。”

不一樣的曲調

聲音品牌、聲音標識和品牌旋律不是什么新生事物。Mac電腦開啟時悠揚的旋律、iPhone的Marimba鈴聲、英特爾廣告結尾時的標志性聲音對人們來說都再熟悉不過。但隨著消費者與世界交互方式的改變,有關品牌聲音的討論也越發激烈和深入。

近來,越來越多的媒體、廣告公司和發行商開始涉足這一領域。以往,多數企業的品牌聲音和音樂都是由廣告公司的創意總監決定。他們可能會先簡單寫下要求,然后再從藝術家那里收集一些曲子并加以篩選。

去年夏天,iHeartMedia與英國廣告巨頭WPP宣布,雙方將合作創建新的聲音品牌服務公司。音樂平臺Pandora也在去年6月創建了Studio Resonate聲音品牌咨詢公司,通過使用科學方法剖析音樂的旋律、節奏和心理,幫助品牌方吸引更多消費者。

市場需要這種專業化服務,當今世界,聲音戰略遠較以往復雜。以萬事達卡為例,在去年春天發布聲音品牌標識前,該公司與MaCann廣告公司的高管以及由神經學家、心理學家、音樂學家、作曲家及音樂家構成的專業團隊進行了密切合作。為了找到適合在賣場、商業展覽、贊助活動、辦公室、鈴聲、交易提醒、商業廣告等眾多場景中播放的音樂,拉賈曼納和他的團隊分析了多達2000首旋律。

與本就應當有些刺耳和警醒的鈴聲不同,企業的標志性音樂應當悅耳宜人。萬事達卡選擇了巴甫洛夫風格的背景聲作為其品牌聲音標識。

定調

這家支付企業為所謂的“完美聲音”設定了明確的標準:極簡、中性、引人入勝又不使人分心、回味無窮又謙遜低調、符合公司整體的品牌辨識戰略(該戰略于2016年啟動,當時從標識中去除了“Mastercard”的字樣)。

所選曲調必須具備一定改編空間,以便稍加調整就能衍生出更具各地特色的版本,比如孟買的版、上海的版;同時支持根據消費場景定制,例如在GameStop上買游戲時播放的聲音應當更有游戲風,而在蒂芙尼一擲千金時播放的曲調則應該更有奢華的感覺。

拉賈曼納成長在一個音樂世家,他對萬事達卡的聲音標識項目充滿熱忱。與一般的廣告創意不同,聲音品牌項目的負責人需要對音樂具有敏感性,清楚樂曲中各個小節的作用,因而必須由精通音樂的人士來擔任。

拉賈曼納說:“你不能只是說‘我不喜歡’。不能被自己的偏見所主導。”

他親自前往世界各地的音樂工作室與作曲家們一起構思曲調。要想找到合適的聲音,有時需要融合不同藝術作品中的音樂片段。當然,做到這一點也并非易事,藝術家們往往會沉醉于自己的作品之中,這時就要設法在他們之間維系一種微妙的平衡。

拉賈曼納說:“做這件事你得非常耐心。”一次性聽完幾百首曲子好比聞太多香水,一個接一個,聽完后人都麻木了,“你必須休息一下,清空大腦。”

為了確保萬事達卡的品牌聲音獨一無二,該公司還專門聘請了音樂學家,使用Shazam等人工智能應用程序將其品牌音樂與數據庫中的音樂進行比較。很多神經學家、著名作曲家、音樂家參與了這項工作,其中就包括歌手兼作曲家、林肯公園創始人麥克·信田。

好幾次,拉賈曼納都覺得自己找到了想要的旋律,但專門研究小組調查發現,這些聲音在某些國家和地區效果并不好。比如,其中有一個是在中東效果不好,另一個則不適合感情濃烈奔放的拉美市場。拉賈曼納說:“我們于是放棄了這些曲調,重新來過。”

經過重重篩選,萬事達卡選定了一個擁有20個不同版本的核心旋律,預計最終將衍生出200多個版本。紐約廣告公司McCann的全球執行創意總監皮埃爾·利普頓表示:“這項工作看似簡單,實則工程浩大。”

這首30秒的旋律可以剪成3秒的小段,將在萬事達卡的電梯、公司演講、廣告結尾及交易支付等場景中播放。你在沃爾瑪或火車站也將不斷聽到這首曲子,但每次都會略有不同。拉賈曼納將其比作確保聲音聽起來不會像烏鴉重復的叫聲,而是與背景相融,悅耳動聽的鳥鳴聲。他表示:“我們可不想令人生厭。”

音樂背后

為什么要為了幾個音符糾纏不清,小題大做?答案本質上是科學。

眾所周知,聲音會對我們的行為和感知產生巨大影響,聽覺神經通路也比視覺通路簡單得多,人類對聲音的反應速度是對圖像反應速度的10到100倍。換句話說,大腦天生就對聲音更為敏感,也更善于處理聲音信息。因此,無論是蛇類的嘶嘶聲還是風拂草地的聲音,都會被靈敏的耳朵捕捉到。

Pandora的新任聲音戰略總監史蒂夫·凱勒表示,研究還表明,音樂能夠影響我們的行為、購物選擇,甚至對風味、氣味和質地的感知。

例如,英國萊斯特大學研究了音樂對葡萄酒銷售的影響。在播放法國傳統音樂的日子里,售出的葡萄酒中有77%產自法國,而換做播放德國傳統音樂,就會有73%產自德國的葡萄酒售出。購物者甚至很少注意到這種聯系:參與調查的44位結賬客戶中,只有一位表示其購物選擇受到了音樂的影響。

此外,聲音還會使我們的大腦釋放某些化學物質,從而產生某些生理反應。凱勒舉例說,陌生或令人驚恐的噪音可能會導致皮質醇劇增并使人做出戰斗或逃跑的反應,而我們喜歡的音樂則會誘使大腦產生多巴胺,進而產生興奮的感覺。Pandora自己對“聲音原型”的研究也表明,音樂具有傳達意義的能力,可以幫助我們講述故事。

凱勒說:“只需改變曲調,我們就能改變故事情節。”如今在品牌營銷人員耳中,這種科學理論聽起來就像是音樂一樣動聽。(財富中文網)

譯者:梁宇

審校:夏林

Mastercard’s chief marketing officer, Raja Rajamannar was searching for the perfect earworm—a sound that could stick in people’s brains but never be annoying. The tune would be customized for 210 countries, for every buying situation. It would be slightly different—but instantly recognizable—whether it punctuated the end of a commercial, graced the inside of the corporate elevator, or even noted a financial transaction on an Amazon Alexa device. And, most importantly, this melody would somehow conjure up an emotional peace of mind.

It took two years to find.

There’s good reason for the executive’s exhaustive efforts. We’re currently in the midst of a voice computing revolution. At least 40% of Americans now own smart speakers in their homes, shopping and searching the web by voice. By 2020, we’ll see a quarter of a billion connected cars on the roads, according to Gartner Research, vehicles teeming with virtual assistant technology. And 63% of the “Internet of Things” consists of app-enabled devices like like smart dishwashers and thermostats. Every connected device has the opportunity to interact with consumers. “The world is going into voice interactions,” says Rajamannar, “and we as a brand couldn’t afford not to be there.”

Not the same ol' tune

Sonic branding, audio logos, and jingles are not necessarily new. Almost everyone recognizes that Apple hum when you power on a Mac, the iPhone’s familiar Marimba ringtone, and even Intel’s familiar three-note signature at the end of commercials. But the conversation about signature sounds is getting louder, and more nuanced, as consumers change how they interact with the world.

In recent months, more media and advertising agencies and publishers have begun jumping into the game. In the past, agency creative directors made most decisions about brand sounds and music. They might write a brief, gather tracks from artists and select a winner.

But last summer, iHeartMedia and British advertising giant WPP created a partnership to create a new audio branding service. Also in last June, music platform Pandora created a new sonic branding consultancy called Studio Resonate that builds on the company’s scientific approach to music—dissecting melody, rhythm and psychology to help brands appeal to consumers.

There’s a need for this expertise; today’s sonic strategy is far more complex. In the case of Mastercard, which released its sonic brand logo last spring, the process involved McCann advertising execs, plus teams of neurologists, psychologists, musicologists, composers and musicians. Rajamannar and his team analyzed 2,000 melodies to find a sound that could be adapted for backgrounds, trade shows, sponsorships, office music, ringtones, transaction alerts, and commercials.

Unlike a jingle, which hits people over the head and is meant to be jarring and interruptive, this would be different: a Pavlovian-style background noise, a brand’s signature sound.

Setting the tone

The payment company had a specific criterion for what qualified as the “perfect sound.” It had to be extremely simple and neutral—likable but not so fantastic that it’d be distracting. It had to be memorable and hummable and it had to fit within a broader brand identity strategy—which started in 2016, when the company dropped the Mastercard name from its logo.

The melody must be adjustable, depending on where you are located, giving the company a Mumbai version, for instance, or a Shanghai take. It had to be customizable based on what you were buying, giving a video game purchase at GameStop an 8-bit feel, perhaps, while a splurge at Tiffany & Co. would have a more luxurious tone.

Mastercard’s audio logo became a passion project for Rajamannar, who grew up in a family made up of musicians. Unlike making decisions about the creative for an ad, this sonic branding project required people with musical knowledge, people who had musical sensibilities and who could analyze the components of a song to say why specifically it worked or not.

“You couldn’t just say, ‘I don’t like it,’” Rajamannar says. “I had to make sure I didn’t get carried away with my own biases.”

He personally traveled to music studios around the world where he’d brainstorm with artists on melodies. Sometimes, finding the right sound involved blending together bits and pieces of music from various artists. And doing that, of course, involved a delicate balance of managing creatives who sometimes got attached to their own work.

“It took a lot of patience,” says Rajamannar, who listened to hundreds of melodies—so many at a time that his senses would get overwhelmed. He compared the process to smelling too many perfumes, one right after another. “You have to take a break and clear your head.”

To ensure Mastercard’s sound was unique, the company also hired musicologists who compared its compositions to a database of music, using artificial intelligence programs like the music app Shazam. Neuroscientists chimed in. So did famous composers and musicians, including Mike Shinoda, a singer-songwriter and founder of the band Linkin Park.

Several times, Rajamannar thought he had a winning melody—and then discovered through research and focus groups that the sounds didn’t translate well to certain countries. In one case, it was the Middle East and in another case, a tune couldn’t be adapted to the high energy feel needed for the Latin American market. Says Rajamannar: “We scrapped it and went back to the drawing board.”

Ultimately, Mastercard settled on one core melody with 20 different versions, and in time expects to have over 200 renditions. “It was a tremendous amount of work to get something so simple,” says Pierre Lipton, global executive creative director for the New York ad agency McCann.

The 30-second song could be broken down into a 3-second subset. It would be played in Mastercard office elevators, at corporate speeches, at the ends of ads, and at the end of every transaction. The tune would be adjusted to be slightly different each time you heard it over and over at a Walmart checkout line or at a train station in Taiwan. Rajamannar compares it to ensuring the sound doesn’t sound like the repetitive sound of a squawking crow, but instead birds chirping that blends into background. “It couldn’t be annoying,” he says.

Behind the music

Why all the fuss over a few musical notes? The answer, essentially, is science.

It’s well understood that sound has long been a powerful vehicle for behavior and perception. Auditory neural pathways are less complex than their visual counterpart, which means people react to sound 10 to 100 times faster than sight. In other words, the brain is literally wired to react to sound and categorize it. So whether it’s the sound of a snake or the wind in the grass, your ears will likely know it before your eyes do.

Research also shows that music can affect our behavior, our purchases, and even our perception of flavor, scent and texture, says Steve Keller, Pandora’s new sonic strategy director.

For instance, one study by the U.K.’s University of Leicester looked at how music impacted sales in a wine shop. On days that traditional French music was played, 77% of the wine sold was French, and on the days traditional German music played, 73% of the wine sold was German. Few shoppers even noticed the connection: Only 1 out of 44 customers who answered questions at checkout spontaneously mentioned that the music was the reason behind their selection.

In addition, sound can cause chemicals to be released in our brains, producing physiological effects. For example, an unfamiliar or alarming noise can cause a burst of cortisol to kick in and produce a fight or flight response, or how music we love coaxes out dopamine, which accounts for feelings of euphoria, says Keller. Pandora’s own research into “audio archetypes,” has demonstrated, too, that music has the power to convey meaning to help us create a narrative.

“We can change the storyline of something simply by changing the musical score,” says Keller. Now that’s the kind of science that sounds like music to brand marketers’ ears.

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