Music to Our Ears: Why Restaurateurs Need to Create a Brand Sound

It’s no secret that music has the power to make us feel good. Think about the effect music has when you relax in a spa, how a concert makes you feel (even virtually), or how music pushes you further when exercising. Sound has the potential to enhance the way we feel in a magnitude of situations. Many brands have demonstrated their understanding of this, and used it to evoke emotional responses in their audiences. 

However, for restauranteurs, sound isn’t widely viewed as a strategic brand tool – more often sound is an afterthought. I see many brands using music streaming services such as Spotify in their spaces, creating a playlist, and leaving it on repeat. Firstly, this is illegal (as Spotify is a non commercial product), but secondly, for brands looking to strengthen their identity and build customer loyalty, this is a considerable oversight, and can drive your staff mad with repetitions.

Even more concerning for your business, is the impact the pandemic is having. With uncertainty thrown our way everyday, music could provide the ultimate remedy. Use music to ease your customers’ stress levels, further their feeling of escapism, positively impact customers’ well- being, and ultimately increase sales.

For the restaurant chain and franchise industry in particular, on-brand sound is an opportunity to provide a deeper level of consistency to your audience across multiple locations and geographies.

But what evidence is there to support that the right music can increase sales? 

In an episode of Altaura Talks, Jasmine Moradi, Former Head of Research at Soundtrack Your Brand discussed her research into the impact of on-brand music on customer experience in restaurants. Her results showed that “architectural design strategies are crucial for any successful restaurant. And by combining and matching visual design with sound design, brands can create the ultimate customer experience.” Her study also found that playing the right music at the right time increased sales by 9.1%. Another study from HUI research, found it is better to play no music at all than to play randomly selected popular songs, which can actually decrease sales. 

So how do you achieve an on-brand sound that is right for your business? 

It’s not always easy to judge what sound is going to be right for your brand. Music is a passion point for many of your customers – We listen to more music than ever before, and technology enables us to walk around with millions of records in our pocket. More charts, genres and specialities make it difficult to know what your customers are listening to. But understanding that there’s a difference between what your customers like, and what is on-brand is the key. Another difficulty is music’s strong relationship with culture. You need to be up-to-date with current affairs, and hand-pick the tracks to play in your spaces, otherwise you might end up with R Kelly on your speakers, which could negatively impact your brand. 

Creating an on-brand sound is like completing a jigsaw puzzle. Everything has to fit. For the restaurant chain and franchise industry in particular, on-brand sound is an opportunity to provide a deeper level of consistency to your audience across multiple locations and geographies. In my experience as a music strategist for restaurant chains, there has to be one clear vision, that captures all of our senses and delivers your unique atmosphere. When you lose one sense, you lose the encompassing brand story. 

Restaurateurs should approach sound the same way they approach their interior/menu/lighting design. Ensuring they have the right expertise and the right resources. Sound is another important touchpoint and it’s actually the first sense that activates when your customers walk into your spaces. There are many more reasons why your brand should consider curated music, and ways to implement them. Don’t forget your spaces are the catalyst for many memorable moments your customers can enjoy, and sound is the trigger.