Brand Love in a Swipe Left World

I’m fascinated by Tinder. 1.4 billion swipes per day. Talk about tapping a market. I can’t help but think about how Tinder works, the odds of a connection, and how often it leads to amazing experiences. And while I’m way too happily married to ever consider using Tinder, I am curious. And it got me thinking.

Is Tinder, perhaps, a microcosm of the relationship between brands and consumers today? A barrage of thoughtfully prepared content vying for our attention and a high rate of rejection.

Tinder relies on you making decisions about your interest in someone based on an instantaneous first impression. The goal is to get someone’s attention by disrupting the stream of photos he or she is swiping though, in the hope that you both swipe right. Less than 2% of swipes lead to a match, fewer meet ups, and even fewer love connections.

One article about the psychology of Tinder had a quote referring to it as “the manifestation of our cultural obsession with appearance and attention deficits”. At the Masters of Marketing conference, ANA Chairman Bob Liodice summed up the challenge for marketers by saying that “its never been easier to reach consumers, and its never been harder to connect with them.”

Understanding Subconscious Decision Making
So, in effect, it’s a classic dating conundrum for brands. Despite all the effort to break through by marketers and brand experience designers, our attention-deficit, split-second decision, experience-hopping world, is putting a lot of pressure on brand performance.
How can brands increase the odds of getting their desired audiences to “swipe right”?
I propose that it requires a deeper understanding of how split-second decisions are being made, and the use of more effective ways to connect with people at a subconscious level. More on this later, but you may be surprised to hear that the strategic use of music and sound can be an effective solution.
In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains the two systems that drive the way we think and make decisions. We are ruled by System 1 — fast, intuitive and emotional. It operates impulsively, with little or no effort. System 2 — slower, more deliberate, more logical — is called into action far less often to rationally solve complex situations that require attention and concentration. As much as 95% of decision-making happens in the subconscious System 1.
Now it starts to make more sense. As technology fuels our ability to move quickly through life, scrolling our way through information at a blistering pace, decisions that used to be controlled by System 2 (like ‘who do I want to go out with?’ or ‘which product should I buy?’) are now influenced more and more by our subconscious, emotionally-guided, System 1.
“The emotional tail wags the rational dog,” according to Kahneman, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work.
The brand community is catching on. 2016 has been declared “The Year of Emotion” by Bruce Temkin, former Forrester analyst who leads the customer experience firm Temkin Group. He says, “Our research shows that emotion is the component of customer experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also the area where companies are least adept and often seemingly ignore… In 2016, we expect to see a major jump in the number of companies that discuss, measure, and design for emotion.”
Connecting Emotionally with Sound & Music
We must do a better job at appealing to peoples’ subconscious to trigger emotions and evoke desired behaviors. Bob Liodice went on to say “…marketers are no longer getting the expected results from their advertising and promotion. Old-fashioned brand-building is becoming a relic of a bygone era.”

As we’ve moved from a communications-focused world to an experience-focused world, the strategic use of sound is becoming a more essential ingredient to drive instant brand recognition, convey meaning and make experiences more interactive. It’s fundamentally effective and efficient. It’s a way to be distinct. And it sparks emotional connection.
Simply stated by Leo Tolstoy, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” But we don’t need one of the greatest writers of all time to tell us what we already know in our gut. We know that music has the power to change our mood on demand, to dig up a long forgotten memory, to bring us back to a place and time, and to propel us forward. Everyone has their own unique music taste, but one thing is the same for all: music makes us feel something, instantaneously.
My former colleague, Andy Payne, Global Chief Creative Officer at Interbrand, said, “Music is possibly one of the most underused and yet most powerful forces at our disposal.”  And Landor’s #3 trend forecast for 2016 is that “Audio Branding Will Make Waves …brands will look to take advantage of consumers’ inherent ability to identify sound, using audio branding to cut through the clutter, and increase consumer awareness while subtly relaying brand and product attributes to the consumer.”

The neurological and behavioral science behind this is compelling. We know that music and sound travel through the brain, bypassing the rational areas and shooting directly into the emotional areas. We know that reaction time to sound is faster than reaction time to any other sense – people react to sound 22% faster than they react to visuals. We know from research that “Brands with music that fit their brand identity are 96% more likely to be recalled than those with non-fit music or no music at all.”
Think about the instantaneous impact that branded audio has on you. When you’re in the kitchen, you recognize a commercial or a show as soon as the music starts. You get alerts on your phone that instantly convey information. When you’re on hold or in a retail store, the right music improves the experience whether you realize it or not, and the wrong music is disturbing. You start up your Mac to its distinctive and refreshing power up sound. The list goes on.

Swipe Right for Music and Sound
The time is now for the strategic use of music and sound in brand experiences. It has tremendous power to reach our subconscious. It can instantly and simultaneously convey brand attribution and meaning. It can trigger memories and emotions. All faster than you blink your eye.
Maya Angelou may have said it best, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Kevin Perlmutter is SVP, Chief Strategist at Made Music Studio.
If you would like to share your perspective, please comment or start a conversation on Twitter @kevinperlmutter or in email:

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