Nowadays, there are too many similar products in the same market. Hence, competition is high in the contemporary market. Besides, for some products, it is hard for customers to determine the right products to use since a majority of the customers do not have any outstanding popular brand. For any business or company to outdo others in the modern market, it has to make sure that it positions its brand in a way that it attracts customers and stands out from other brands (Aaker & Keller, 2005).
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The brand should be in a position to draw customers’ attention. Brand presents the product image and sometimes it tells a story about the product. Businesses use numerous strategies to enhance brand experience including visual advertisement, audio advertisement, and a combination of both the visual and audio advertisement (Aaker & Keller, 2005). All these strategies contribute to the enhancement of brand experience in different ways.
Advertisement departments have understood the role of visual advertisement in enhancing brand experience. The departments have realised that people are able to interpret and retain visual messages at a higher rate relative to other forms of messages.
Therefore, consumers are likely to understand and remember a brand if it is advertised through visual method (Grossman, 2003). Besides, understanding and remembering the brand’s image, visual advertisement, if well designed triggers the emotions of the target consumers making them attached to the brand.
Not all aspects of a brand can be advertised visually. Hence, organisations also use audio communication to capture those aspects that visual advertisement does not capture. Audio advertisement is one of the channels that spur people’s mood. Use of music in brand advertisement helps in energising the customers’ spirit, therefore, luring them to try the brand. Besides, the music makes the target audience develop a positive perception towards the company.
Combining audio and visual aspects of communication in a brand advertisement gives an organisation an upper hand. It not only makes consumers understand the brand but it also makes them retain the experience of the brand for a long time. Even though visual communication might help the target audience to understand the intended message, the communication might fail to inspire or trigger emotional thoughts, which are crucial in making sure that the audience responds to the message (Aaker & Keller, 2005).
Hence, inclusion of sound in a visual communication helps to inspire the target audience and encourage them to associate with the brand. There is a strong synergy between visual and sound communication in brand management. The sound cues included in an audio communication serves to convey additional information, which the visual communication does not offer (Juslin, 2001). Consequently, it makes the target audience understand the brand better.
The combination of visual and audio aspects in a brand enhancement strategy facilitates in arousing positive attitude towards the brand and draws the attention of the target consumers. Hence, the two modes of advertisement compliment each other to enhance brand experience. Without the two, an organisation would not be able to capture all aspects of communication that are critical in brand enhancement. This paper will look at how both visual and sound might facilitate to enhance brand experience.
Physiological and emotional changes
What we see have significant influence on our emotions, our reactions, and they define whom we are. We continually familiarise with our surroundings through experimentation and experience. According to a research conducted by Albert Mehrabian, a psychologist, the majority of the advertisements are nonverbal.
The reason behind this assertion is that people process visual advertisements at a higher rate relative to textual advertisements. Additional studies have proved than the “human brain decodes pictorial presentations concurrently, while language or text is interpreted in a sequential and linear manner and it requires time” (Grossman, 2003, p.193).
Human beings are genetically conditioned to react in a different way to images relative to texts. For instance, people have an inherent tendency to prefer big images that depict open landscapes since they trigger a sense of contentment and well-being. During the process of child development, the child begins by seeing things before it can learn to speak.
Unless the brand’s “ideas, words, and concepts are attached to an image, they are likely to go through one ear of the customer and exit through the other” (Grossman, 2003, p.193). According to psychologists, human being processes words using a short-term memory. Hence, only few words are retained making it hard for customers to retain texts.
The same visual constituents that we are permanently attracted to and we swiftly absorb not only pass across data more effectively and efficiently but also have significant impacts on our emotions. For example, “a research has proved that when people are exposed to red colour for a long duration, their breathing and pulse rates go up” (Grossman, 2003, p.194).
Today, many people go by the saying “seeing is believing”. Even though some of the images we se might be altered, the fact remains that images are more persuasive. The same applies in the business world. Brand images facilitate in persuading consumers to associate with the brand. According to Grossman (2003, p.191), “Visual communication is more ubiquitous than ever before”. Images do what words alone cannot do.
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They affect the audience both emotionally and cognitively. Images increase and accelerate the rate of communication. Visual clues included in brand advertisement help the target consumers decipher the text (Keller, 2003). Moreover, they draw the consumers’ attention increasing their chances of retaining the conveyed message.
Visual presentations “affect or enhance attitudes and emotions and graphics normally trigger our imagination and stimulate other areas of our brains, which heighten our creativity” (Keller, 2003, p. 596). When a person becomes creative, one is capable of understanding the presented information and retaining it. In most cases, people make decisions based on their emotions (Keller, 2003). Emotions play a significant role in learning, perceptions, and in the decision-making process.
Besides, they significantly affect the system of cogent thinking. According to behaviour psychologists, emotions and intuitive judgment significantly influence our decisions (Keller, 2003). Hence, the images organisations show to their audience influence their decisions. The images affect the emotions of the target audience, which in return influence their decision-making.
Graphics facilitate to establish brand identity. Images bring out the picture of advertisers. In addition, they show what the advertisers believe in and stand for, and how it might be of help to the audience (Keller, 2003). Since graphics have the ability to influence the audience, they act as strong selling entities.
How an institution uses its visuals determines how the audience views the institution as well as its staff. Research has proved that graphics have a significant effect on the audience’s understanding of the issue at hand and, by extension the presenter.
The audience’s perception of the presented idea, attitude towards the idea and the presenter, and their emotional state greatly influences the decisions made by the audience (Keller, 2003). Definitely, visual presentation has a great impact on the decisions made by the target audience. Organisations that make good use of visual images in advertising their brands are able to overcome competition.
Organisations understand the role played by visual advertisements in enhancing brand image and brand experience. This element underlines the reasons “why organisations spend billions of dollars yearly to come up with the most appropriate images to help sell their ideas, services, or products” (Keller, 2003, p.599).
Every year, organisations spend heavily in visual advertisements with an aim to enhance brand identity and increase their customer base. A case where visual communication has significantly facilitated in enhancing brand experience is in Coca Cola’s advertisement in India. For a long time, the Coca-Cola Company was out of the Indian market (Kadri, 2006).
When the company resumed into this market, it had to come up with measures to overcome competition and attract more customers, which prompted the company to embark on visual communication since it was easy for the locals to decipher. The company came up with a Thanda print advertisement depicting a truck driver cooling the truck’s radiator with water using a coke bottle (Kadri, 2006).
The advertisement was portrayed in a way that it acknowledged the local people, therefore, making the consumers perceive that the company recognises them and wishes to relate with them. This advertisement went a long way in helping the Coca-Cola Company regain its glory in the Indian market.
Source: Kadri, 2006.
Brand experience benefit
Visual advertisement has numerous benefits to the company with respect to brand enhancement. One of the benefits a company accrues from visual advertisement is the establishment of a strong relationship with customers. Most of the current strong brands were once novel in the market. Through advertisements, the customers increasingly get to know the brand and become loyal to the brand leading to the establishment of a strong relationship (Keller, 2003).
Visual advertisement helps consumers recall the brand whenever they come across it. This element facilitates in cutting down on the advertisement cost as well as overcoming competition. Once the customers become loyal to a brand, it is hard for a rival company to convince them to abandon the brand and start using a new brand. Hence, visual advertisement relives a company from the cost of having to advertise its brand all the time.
Apart from customer retention, visual advertisement leads to numerous customers knowing the brand therefore increasing the sales volume of an organisation (Keller, 2003). When customers get satisfied with any brand, they always go back for the brand. Besides, the return customers lure their friends to use the same brand, which helps the respective company to expand its customer base thus promoting sales growth.
Physiological and emotional changes
A strong brand identity is normally viewed in terms of the brand logo, name, and stylish package design. All these perceptions involve visual sense. Nonetheless, this view does not describe what actually comprises a strong brand identity. For brand identity to be strong, it has to consider all the five senses that human being uses to identify with everything that surrounds him (Lindstrom, 2011).
It is hard for an organisation to incorporate the senses of touch and taste in brand identity. Nevertheless, some companies like Singapore Airlines have managed to incorporate the sense of smell in their brand identity strategy.
Currently, organisations are focusing on sound as the alternative method of enhancing brand experience. Sound can be classified into three groups, which are ambiance, voice, and music. Voice is any sound made by a human being. Ambiance refers to “any sound made by our environment, such as the sound made by machines” (Lindstrom, 2011, p. 89). Music is any sound made by combining instrumental sounds and vocals. Music plays a significant role to enhance brand experience.
While visual, touch, or taste features of a product requires customers to have direct contact with the product for them to understand the brand, sound feature is a good channel for reaching customers without them having to do anything (Lindstrom, 2011).
People are exposed to sounds at all time and they are not required to do something to hear the sounds. Besides, human beings are exposed to sounds long before they are born. This exposure helps them learn to interpret different sounds and decipher their meanings. Besides, sounds affect people’s mood thus making them to feel sleepy, energised, sad, or happy.
The sound used in brand advertisement might lead to the target audience being energised or looking down upon the brand. Using an attractive music to advertise a brand leads to the target audience being keen to understand the brand (Lindstrom, 2011). Besides, the music makes the target audience develop a positive perception towards the company, and makes them wish to go a step further to understand the brand.
Music inspires people and makes them attentive. Hence, using music to advertise a brand might help the company to draw the attention of many consumers and make the brand known to many (Juslin, 2001). Psychologists have proved that people strongly relate music to specific memories.
Hence, sound has the ability to make consumers recall specific experiences, which underlines the reason why organisations are turning to sound as one of the strategies of enhancing brand experience. Using a unique sound like music to advertise a particular brand would go a long way to make sure that customers remember the brand whenever the song is played. Using sound to enhance brand experience helps customers to distinguish the brand from others (Juslin, 2001).
Sound not only helps customers remember the brand, but also helps the customers learn something about the company. Hence, organisations position their sounds in a way that makes them stand out from others. For instance, they look for the most attractive music in terms of melody and ensure that the music is of high quality. In this way, consumers perceive the company to offer quality products by the mere nature of the quality of their brand advertisement.
The influence of music in brand enhancement is indisputable (Juslin, 2001). Music spurs an emotional reaction and, therefore, it quickly establishes client identification with a brand. Music, as a constituent of an inclusive brand management has a high emotional effect across all the target groups and it can be used in different ways.
For instance, organisations can use logo sounds, incorporate music in radio advertisements, use background music in stores, and incorporate on-hold music in their telephones (Juslin, 2001). This assertion implies that music is everywhere and is a viable method of enhancing organisational brand.
Many companies are now using music as one of the methods of enhancing brand awareness. Today, companies use customised play lists that add value to products or services they offer. Music can facilitate to relay a message to target customers if done correctly and at the right time (Juslin, 2001).
Currently, most of the American companies have understood the role played by audio branding in brand enhancement and are now turning to music as one of their brand enhancement strategies. Since 1934, Muzak, a United States company has been producing functional music to facilitate in brand enhancement (Juslin, 2001).
The company comes up with background music that the consumer is expected to recognise at a subconscious level. The music creates a serene atmosphere and cheers up customers. With time, the company has transformed its background music to reflect certain lifestyles and identity based on consumer demand. Companies use this music to establish a cooperative environment with their customers.
Brand experience benefit
One of the benefits of sound in brand experience is that it facilitates in retention of the brand in the mind of the target audience. People have the tendency of remembering sounds like music and associating them with specific phenomena (McEnally & De Chernatony, 1999).
Hence, when an institution uses sound or music to communicate its brand to the target audience, the audience always remembers the brand whenever they hear the music or music with similar melody is played. This aspect implies that an organisation does not have to incur an extra cost in advertising its brand every now and then like other methods of brand enhancement requires.
Sound may help an organisation to tap into idle brand potential. For instance, an organisation can use sound like music to create emotions and differentiate its idle brands, therefore, enhancing the brand identity and improving the performance of these brands in the market.
Music arouses an emotional feeling in the target consumers (McEnally & De Chernatony, 1999). Hence, an institution might use it to trigger an emotion towards a product or service that is not performing well in the market, which would make consumers identify with the product or service.
In the process, the respective organisation would enhance its brand in the market by making sure that consumers identify with all its products or services. By using sounds and melodies that are instantly recognisable, an organisation would be able to round off its brand identity in a unique way. Some of these sounds might include audio logo, brand song, the jingle, and soundscape (McEnally & De Chernatony, 1999).
Combining visual and sound
Combining of visual and sound communication to enhance brand experience goes a long way not only to promote understanding and awareness among the target consumers but also to make sure that the consumers retain the image of the brand (Eimer, 1999).
When communicating, it is easier to do it on a face-to-face context than through email. Visual or sound communication alone has particular shortcomings that might jumble the message or lead to misunderstanding (McEnally & De Chernatony, 1999). The combination of visual and sound communication helps to boost the likelihood of the audience understanding the message.
Even though visual communication might help the target audience to understand the intended message, the communication might fail to inspire or trigger emotional thoughts, which are crucial in making sure that the audience responds to the message. Hence, inclusion of sound in a visual communication helps to inspire the target audience and encourage them to associate with the brand.
Companies include sound in a visual communication to create the fundamental argument. Some of the images the organisations use in the advertisement campaigns carry deeper meaning than they portray (Eimer, 1999). However, a majority of the consumers do not decipher the inner meaning of the advertisement. In such an instance, inclusion of sound facilitates in inspiring the consumers to be impulsive and to take the initiative to pursue that what they desire.
There is a strong synergy between visual and sound communication in brand management. The sound cues included in an audio communication serves to convey additional information, which the visual communication does not offer.
Consequently, it makes the target audience understand the brand better. According to Eimer (1999), “visual and auditory stimuli compete for audiences’ attention because of humans’ limitation on processing multiple sources of information…the tradeoff between attentional resource allocations across sensory channels implies that audio-visual information promotes a stronger brand experience” (p. 1252).
A study by Mayer and Moreno (2002), found that students that employed audiovisual techniques in analysing data did well than those that used only visual or audio technique. The study proved that combining visual and sound techniques in any form of communication boosts understanding. The same case applies to brand enhancement. Combination of visual and audio communication in an advertisement facilitates in enhancing brand experience.
Inclusion of both audio and visual elements in a message facilitates to elicit positive attitude in the target audience. In most cases, visual communication is not inspiring (Mayer & Moreno, 2002). Hence, the target audience might not take any interest in a visual message even if it targets them. On the other hand, most of the audio messages are crafted in a manner that they are captivating.
Consequently, the combination of visual and audio aspects in a brand enhancement strategy facilitates in arousing positive attitude towards the brand and draws the attention of the target consumers. Attitude is critical in determining the consumer behaviour (Mayer & Moreno, 2002). If consumers develop a negative attitude towards a particular advertisement, they are likely not to take the initiative to understand the brand the advertisement is propagating.
On the other hand, if the advertisement invokes positive attitude in the audience, it is likely to take the initiative to understand the brand even more (Mayer & Moreno, 2002). Therefore, the ability by audio communication to elicit positive attitude within the audience facilitate to reinforce a visual communication in an advertisement, therefore, enhancing brand experience.
Currently, organisations are turning to audiovisual mode of communication to advertise their products or services. Businesses are learning the benefits of including sounds in pictorial or textual messages. Sounds trigger the emotions making the target audience take an extra step to achieve what it desires. Hence, including sounds in a pictorial brand advertisement makes the target consumers desire to know more about the brand (Mayer & Moreno, 2002). In the process, an organisation manages to make its brand known to the public.
One of the organisations that are currently using audiovisual communication is the Nike Company. The company teamed up with Dazed Digital Magazine to come up with an audiovisual advertisement dubbed Nike FIELD. The advertisement incorporates digital technology, music, and human action.
The main objective of introducing this audiovisual communication was to help the Nike Company advertise its sportswear brand (Vong, 2012). The advertisement is interactive and allows its viewers to change the colour and direction of the images. By making the advertisement fascinating, Nike Company has managed to popularise its sportswear across the globe. Today, many people have the perception that the company produces the best quality of sportswear as evidenced by their preference by most of the sports personnel.
Brand experience benefit
The main brand experience benefit accrued from audiovisual communication is that the communication facilitates in enhancing brand awareness. As earlier noted, people are capable of deciphering images faster than sounds or texts. Hence, incorporating the two in an advertisement creates a basic argument (Muehling, 2000).
The two helps in bringing out the deeper meaning of the advertisement that a single mode of communication could not bring out. Consequently, audiovisual communication makes the target audience understand the brand better than they could when using a single mode of communication. Emotions influence the consumer decision-making process (Muehling, 2000).
Consequently, for consumers to like a particular brand, its advertisement should be able to arouse their emotions. Audiovisual advertisements have the capacity to trigger the emotions of the target consumers thus making them use the brand. Either the sound or the visual component of the advertisement is positioned in an attractive manner drawing the attention of the consumers.
Besides bringing out the deeper meaning of the brand and triggering emotions within the consumers, audiovisual communication facilitates in retention of the conveyed message. According to study conducted by the United States Department of Labour, people retain 10 percent and 35 percent of information relayed through audio and visual channels respectively.
However, after combining the two modes of communication, people retain 65 percent of the information (Muehling, 2000). The fact that audiovisual communication facilitate in information retention makes it the most appropriate method of brand advertisement. Using this mode of advertisement helps in making sure that the consumers remember the brand for a long time. Hence, the method facilitate in enhancing brand experience.
Applying the benefits of sound and visual to enhance brand experience
According to Keller (2003, p. 595), “Brand experience is associated with the strength of a brand node in memory, as reflected in the consumer’s ability to identify the brand under different conditions.” There is a common belief that brand experience entails two dimensions. The fist dimension is brand recognition, which is a cognitive process and it entails easy salvage.
The second dimension is brand remembrance, which comes when a consumer is able to elucidate a brand-motivation that is not physically available. Combining visual and sound communication in a brand advertisement campaign facilitates to enhance brand experience in that it boosts the consumers’ ability to recognise and distinguish the brand from others (Keller, 2003). Different brands may use almost similar sounds in their advertisements.
Consequently, using sound alone in brand advertisement might lead to the consumers getting confused. Nevertheless, different brands cannot use similar images in their brand advertisements. The fact that people are able to decipher and retain pictorial messages more than textual or sound messages implies that inclusion of images in brand advertisement would help consumers distinguish the brand from others whenever they come across it.
Currently, consumers identify the brands of most of the popular companies through their logos. For instance, people identify the Nike Company with the “tick” sign it uses as its logo. Even if companies like Adidas happen to use audio messages resembling those of Nike Company to advertise its sportswear, consumers would be able to distinguish the two because of the difference in their logos (Wilbum, 2006).
Hence, a combination of visual and sound elements in a communication helps to enhance brand experience since the two boosts brand recognition. Whenever the target audience hears a certain sound, they attribute it to a particular brand, and to make sure that the sound belongs to that brand, they use the brand’s image. In other words, visual and sound compliment each other to enhance brand experience.
People develop image awareness at an early age. For instance, when a child is six months old, it can develop mental images of different items and remember the items whenever it comes across the images (Ji, 2002). The same happens to brand awareness. Inclusion of visual components in an audio advertisement helps the target audience develop mental images of the particular brand.
As time goes by, the image is implanted in their mind. Hence, whenever the consumers come across the image, it reminds them about the brand. One of the best areas where audiovisual advertisement would be of great importance in enhancing brand experience is when advertising children products. Ji (2002) posits, “Children will instinctively favour a particular brand due to the connection or relationship they had formed as a child” (p. 369).
Hence, a combination of sound and visual presentations might go a long way to enhance brand experience among the children. Introducing children to sounds or images of a particular brand at an early age would help an organisation enhance the brand experience among the children. This aspect would ensure that the children continue using the brand even at their later age.
Audiovisual advertisements do not only help in enhancing brand awareness but they also help in establishing an interactive environment between the organisation and the target consumers. In the process, the interaction might be switched into an exclusive and steady event-experience for customers across all the touchpoints of the particular brand (Travis, 2000). The combination of audio and visual elements in a brand advertisement helps the company play around with the emotional responses of the target audience.
This element helps to promote an intricate buying behaviour within the consumers. Music is one of the major audio components that evoke emotions within the consumers. Hence, organisations are continuously integrating music into most of their visual advertisements (Travis, 2000). According to Beeching and Flemmings (2005), music helps the advertisers establish an experience where consumers relate with brands at their own pleasure.
Beeching and Flemmings (2005) posit that audiovisual communication helps in differentiating a brand from others. By targeting consumers through audiovisual advertisement, companies are able to do away with challenges of brand differentiation. Currently, visual marketing dominates the society. Demographic approach in the market is inclined towards visual advertisements.
Most of the advertisers design their messages based on how they wish the target market to perceive the message visually (Travis, 2000). The advertisers fail to understand the role that sound plays in influencing consumer decisions. Including sound in a visual advertisement, helps to capture the values that consumers wish to see in a brand. Hence, inclusion of sounds like music in a visual advertisement enhances brand experience and gives the brand a competitive edge.
In response to the challenges encountered in the brand enhancement campaigns, there has emerged a novel technique in the field of brand advertisement. Currently, organisations are embracing sonic branding as the most recent mode of enhancing brand awareness. Sonic branding technique combines both visual and sound elements in brand advertisements. Nevertheless, the technique put more weight on sound elements than on visual (Levie & Lentz, 2004).
Sonic brand employ sound as the channel for communicating the importance of a brand. It focuses on brand identity and it tries to persuade consumers to purchase the particular brand. This technique tries to revolutionise the role of sound in brand advertisement by cutting down on the level of brand’s reliance on visual communication. The technique uses sound to transmit the brand’s value while using visual elements like texts to capture the consumer’s attention creatively.
One of the core values behind brand identity is uniqueness. For a brand to withstand competition, it has to be unique and to stand out from others in the market. Sonic branding employs sound and visual elements to introduce the brand and to spur interest within the consumers (Levie & Lentz, 2004).
The technique uses music to present a brand in a way that it captures the personality of the target consumers, which facilitates to differentiate the brand from others, makes the brand unique, and easy for consumers to remember. Garnier TM is one of the companies that have used sonic branding technique to enhance brand experience. The company has a sonic logo that uses a unique sound, which makes the consumer perceive the company’s brand as unique, honest, and memorable.
Currently, there is stiff competition among numerous brands in the market. Every company is using all the available means to position its brand in a unique way.
With most of the companies using advertisement to differentiate their brands and to enhance brand experience, it has turned out that combining visual and sound elements in a brand advertisement campaign would go a long way to enhance brand experience.
Each of these elements plays a unique role in the enhancement of brand experience. What we see has a significant influence on our reactions, emotions and it defines us.
People normally decipher images at a higher rate than sounds. Moreover, they are able to retain the images for a longer period and to recall whenever they come across the images. In addition, images affect our attitudes and emotions triggering creativity. Hence, inclusion of visual elements in a campaign aimed to enhance brand experience would facilitate in heightening chances of consumers to understand and remember the brand for a long time.
On the other hand, sound plays a significant role to enhance brand experience. Sounds like music affect the mood of the target audience. The sound might energise or demoralise them. The sway of music in brand enhancement is indisputable. Music spurs an emotional reaction. Therefore, it quickly establishes client identification with a brand. Music as one of the components of brand management strategy helps to capture the emotions of the target group.
Since emotions play a significant role in the decision-making process, capturing the emotions of the target audience increases the possibility of the audience to associate with the brand. Psychologists have proved that people strongly relate music with specific memories. Hence, sound has the ability to make consumers recall specific experiences. This aspect underlines the reason why organisations are turning to sound as one of the strategies of enhancing brand experience.
By combining visual and sound elements in a brand advertisement campaign, a company improves the chances of enhancing brand experience. The two elements facilitate to establish a basic argument. While consumers are capable of deciphering images and retaining them in their memories for a long time, sound helps to inspire and arouse emotions of the target audience.
Once the target audience is aroused emotionally, it takes the initiative to understand the particular brand, which might be by trying the brand. In the process of using a brand, the target consumer might experience and like it thus being loyal to the brand.
Combining visual and audio aspects in brand awareness campaign might help to establish an interactive environment between the organisation and the target consumers. In the process, this interactive environment might be transformed into a steady and unique event-experience for customers making them understand and embrace the brand.
The combination of audio and visual elements in a brand advertisement helps the company play around with the emotional responses of the target audience. This element influences them in their decision-making process luring them to use the brand. If sound and visual elements are blended well, they might help in bringing out the brand quality. Consumers associate advertisement with brand quality. Hence, a high quality advertisement depicts the brand as of high quality increasing the chances of the consumers using the brand.
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