sound knowledge: an audio branding reading list

When it comes to harnessing the power of sound, a working knowledge of the fundamentals of audio science and design is vital. An aptitude for composition/production certainly yields creative results, but it’s only one part of the audio branding equation. Research is necessary to balance out our instincts with demonstrable facts, helping us shape the creation of audio assets and manage their implementation as well.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of information available. New studies are continually being published in academic journals and agency/brand white papers. Emerging technologies offer new audio touch points for brands to explore. Keeping up on the latest trends and best practices in our discipline is a full time job!

If you’re interested in the latest news, you might want to follow our iV audio branding daily and our audio branding scoop.it page where we’re constantly curating new content relevant to the industry.

Additionally, we thought it might be helpful to supply you with a “must read” list – a bibliography for the serious audio branding enthusiast. So we went to our book shelves and pulled what we thought were a few of the essential titles of the moment. We’ve listed them for you here, with easy amazon links (just select the title) and a short description. There’s a wide variety of thought represented here – everything from branding to neuromarketing to the role of silence in a noisy world.

We offer these with hopes that they’ll expand your knowledge – and with it allow for more informed discussions. If there’s a work that’s been influential in your approach to audio branding that we’ve not included in our list, feel free to leave a comment and let us know. We always enjoy adding to our library.

Happy reading!

Handbook of Consumer Psychology – Edited by Curtis Haugtvedt, Paul Herr and Frank Kardes

This Handbook contains a unique collection of chapters written by the the leading researchers in the field of consumer psychology, offered with the common goal of attaining a better scientific understanding of cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to products and services, the marketing of these products and services, and societal and ethical concerns associated with marketing processes. The research in this area focuses on fundamental psychological processes as well as on issues associated with the use of theoretical principles in applied contexts. The chapter on sound in a consumer context is worth the “price of admission.”

The Social and Applied Psychology of Music – Adrian North and David Hargreaves

Music is so ubiquitous that it can be easy to overlook the powerful influence it exerts in so many areas of our lives – from birth, through childhood, to old age. North and Hargreaves consider the value of music in everyday life, answering perennial questions that include: What aspects of music are crucial in determining whether or not you will like it? How does the structure of the music industry affect the music that we hear on the radio and buy? How does musical ability develop in children, and how does this relate to more general theories of how intellectual skills develop? Do musical skills develop independently of other abilities? How does musical ability develop in children, and how does this relate to more general theories of how intellectual skills develop? Do musical skills develop independently of other abilities? Exceptionally broad in scope, and written in a highly accessible style by the leading researchers in this field, it should be required reading as an introduction to the field.

Emotion and Reason in Consumer Behavior – Arjun Chaudhuri

In the last twenty five years, the role of emotion in information processing has been widely acknowledged. Research demonstrates that we need to understand both emotion and reason if we want to understand the real meanings that products and services have for consumers. Chaudhuri offers new insights into the effects that emotion and rational thought have on marketing outcomes, using sound academic research at a level that both students and professionals can understand.

Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, Applications – Edited by Patrik Juslin and John Sloboda

The predecessor to this book, Motion and Emotion (OUP, 2001) was critically and commercially successful and stimulated further work in this area. In the years since, empirical research in this area has blossomed, and the Handbook of Music and Emotion offers a comprehensive coverage of the many approaches that define the field of music and emotion. The first section offers multi-disciplinary perspectives on musical emotions from philosophy, musicology, psychology, neurobiology, anthropology, and sociology. The second section features methodologically-oriented chapters on the measurement of emotions via different channels (e.g., self report, psychophysiology, neuroimaging). Sections three and four address how emotion enters into different aspects of musical behavior, both the making of music and its consumption. Section five covers developmental, personality, and social factors. Section six describes the most important applications involving the relationship between music and emotion. In a final commentary, the editors comment on the history of the field, summarize the current state of affairs, and propose future directions.

The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature – Daniel J. Levitin

The follow up to This Is Your Brain on Music, Levitin demonstrates how the brain evolved to play and listen to music in six fundamental forms—for knowledge, friendship, religion, joy, comfort, and love. Blending scientific findings with his own experiences as a musician and music-industry professional, Levitin further supports his conclusions with interviews with Sting, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and David Byrne, along with classical musicians and conductors, historians, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists.

Sonic Branding: An Introduction – Daniel Jackson

Jackson’s seminal work was one of the first to hit the market, helping to draw attention to sonic branding. The ideas outlined here shaped the development of an audio branding process that formed the foundation of many of the industry best practices that exist today.

Audio Branding: Brands, Sound and Communication – Edited by Kai Bronner and Rainer Hirt

Bronner and Hirt are two of the founders of the Audio Branding Academy, the only professional organization currently devoted to the discipline of audio branding. This book is a collection of articles dealing with a broad range of pertinent topics, including the function of sound, the basics and principles of brand communication and audio branding, multi-sensory aspects of brand communication, and legal matters concerning soundmarks. In case studies on projects with international brands, leading experts provide insight into what audio branding actually means in practice. This compilation is based on the German publication Audio-Branding, previously released in 2007.

Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing – Roger Dooley

Neuromarketing studies the way the brain responds to various cognitive and sensory marketing stimuli. Analysts use this to measure a consumer’s preference, what a customer reacts to, and why consumers make certain decisions. Dooley, who also publishes a blog devoted to the subject, outlines how neuromarketing has helped many well-known brands and companies determine how to best market their products to different demographics and consumer groups. He devotes two chapters in particular to the use of sound as a means to shape consumer behavior and brand recall.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain – Oliver Sacks

Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. Of particular interest is his exploration of what he calls “musical misalignments.” Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds – for everything but music.

Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy – Martin Lindstrom

Martin Lindstrom reveals how the world’s most successful companies and products integrate touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound into their marketing strategies. In conjunction with renowned research institution Millward Brown, Lindstrom’s worldwide study unveils the extent to which we are slaves to our senses — and how these senses can be used to unwittingly seduce consumers.

This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession – Daniel J. Levitin

Why does music evoke such powerful moods? Levitan draws on neuroscience and evolutionary psychology to find the answer to that question. Along the way, even more questions are revealed and explored: Are our musical preferences shaped in utero? Is there a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music? What do PET scans and MRIs reveal about the brain’s response to music? Is musical pleasure different from other kinds of pleasure? It’s a compelling read.

In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise – George Prochnik

Prochnik travels across the country, meeting and listening to doctors, neuroscientists, acoustical engineers, monks, activists, educators, marketers, and aggrieved citizens. He examines why we began to be so loud as a society, and what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet. For those of us engaged in giving brands a voice, this book may help us think twice about the relevance of sound – and silence – in a world full of noise.

Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art – Salomé Voegelin

Salomé Voegelin explores the concepts of listening to sound artwork and the everyday acoustic environment, establishing an aesthetics and philosophy of sound and promoting the notion of a sonic sensibility.  Sound works are discussed, by lesser known contemporary artists and composers (for example Curgenven, Gasson and Federer), historical figures in the field (Artaud, Feldman and Cage), and that of contemporary  artists such as Janet Cardiff, Bill Fontana, Bernard Parmegiani, and Merzbow. Informed by the ideas of Adorno, Merleau-Ponty and others, Voegelin attempts to critique sound art within the context of its soundings rather than in relation to abstracted themes and pre-existing categories.

ComMUSICation: From Pavlov’s Dog to Sound Branding – John Groves

Fellow  colleague  and audio branding pioneer John Groves documents the birth of audio branding. He shares personal experiences and anecdotes, offering up scientific findings in his own conversational (and often humorous) style. John ends his book with a walk-through of a structured system for developing and managing “Brand Sound Identities.”

Sound Business – Julian Treasure

Treasure is another of the preeminent voices in audio branding theory and practice. In this book, he explores the ways in which sound can change our moods, our behavior and our performance, offering a practical guide to planning and managing sound for increased profit in all aspects of business.

Brand Meaning – Mark Batey

Understanding that how a company ‘positions’ a brand is not necessarily how the consumer perceives that brand, Batey takes a comprehensive and holistic look at how consumers find and create meaning in brands. He explores the fundamental conscious and unconscious elements that connect people with products and brands, questioning traditional marketing concepts in the process and offering a new framework for brand meaning.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. Taleb’s groundbreaking work on the subject contends that  Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we are blind to them. A must read, particularly for those in search of ways to make their marketing go “viral.”

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business – Charles Duhigg

Award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg explores the science behind why habits exist and how they can be changed. It’s a fascinating look at how “habit designers” can shape behavior – and the role big data can play. While not specifically about “sound”, it provides food for thought regrading the potential for audio to be a behavioral  trigger in habit formation.

The End of Business as Usual – Brian Solis

Solis believes that today’s biggest trends—the mobile web, social media, real-time—have produced a new consumer landscape. People expect to access information anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Collaborative, cloud, and video technologies are leading this change. He explores this complex information revolution, how it has changed the future of business, media, and culture, and suggests what companies can do to take advantage of the evolving landscape and lead the way.

Obsessive Branding Disorder: The Illusion of Business and the Business of Illusion – Lucas Conley

Conley paints the picture of a world obsessed with branding. Americans encounter anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 ads a day, and increasingly brands vie for our attention from insidious angles that target our emotional responses – with sound being a prime “offender.” From the fertile crescent of branding (Cincinnati) to the laboratories of sensory specialists (musicologists, and “noses”), he investigates the phenomenon of rampant commercialism and offers a portrait of an age of branding obsession.

Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing – Alex Wipperfürth

Wipperfürth presents an alternative to conventional marketing wisdom, one that addresses such industry crises as media saturation, consumer evolution, and the erosion of image marketing. He proposes untraditional, even counterintuitive practices: Let the marketplace take over. Stop clamoring for control and learn to be spontaneous. Be bold enough to accept a certain degree of uncertainty in the definition of your brands. Embrace the value of being surprising and imperfect. Draw the line between promotion and the adbusting trinity of manipulation, intrusion and co-option. It’s an exploration into the power of chaos to feed creativity – and suggests that control of your brand image is, at best, an illusion.

Primal Branding – Patrick Hanlon

Hanlon identifies seven definable assets that he believes construct the belief system behind every successful brand, whether it’s a product, service, city, personality, social cause, or movement. Referring to these assets as “the primal code,” Halon illustrates how they can be used to form a powerful emotional attachment to the brand, offering the opportunity to move from being just another product on the shelf to becoming a desired and necessary part of consumer culture.

Emotional Branding – Marc Gobé

Emotional Branding explores how effective consumer interaction needs to be about senses and feelings, emotions and sentiments. Design in this book is considered a new media, the web a place where people will share information and communicate, architecture a part of the brand building process, and people as the most powerful element of any branding strategy. Gobé emphasizes the need to transcend the traditional language of marketing–from one based on statistics and data to a more compelling form of communication that fosters creativity and innovation.

 

6 Comments

  1. Posted October 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is a great list. I’ve read most of them and will get to the rest of the them. If I could add one title it would be Why We Buy from Paco Underhill. It digs in deep to the reasons why we buy with a focus on retail and a few chapters on how how our senses play into that role. The main viewpoint from it is to make it easier for consumers to buy.

    Great post!

    • iV
      Posted October 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the heads-up on “Why We Buy,” Jordan. We’ll add it to our “book queue!”

  2. Posted October 9, 2012 at 2:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great List, there are a bunch of new (to me) gems to enjoy. It’s great to see one is not alone at all reading Sacks-Solis-Gobé-Groves and others altogether :)…Thank you!

  3. Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great post Noel – have read most of them but good to have the list in one place -Thanks

    • iV
      Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Ruth. We wanted to make it easy on everyone to have a consolidated list.

      For the record, as much as we love Noel Franus – we’re not him. Though it’s easy to confuse us… 🙂

      We’re headed to London in December. Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to meet in person!

      All the best,

      Steve

  4. Posted November 2, 2012 at 2:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you Steve for an excellent list, some of which are new to me. And thanks for including my book!

    Here are a few I would add…

    Soundscape: The Tuning Of The World (R Murray Shafer)

    Acoustic Communication (Barry Truax)

    The Handbook of Music Psychology (Hodges, ed)

    The Universal Sense – How Hearing Shapes The Mind (Seth Horowitz)

    Audio-Vision (Michel Chion)

    The Power Of Sound (Joshua Leeds)

    The World Is Sound – Nada Brahma (Joachim-Ernst Berendt)

    Sonic Experience (Augoyard/Torgue)

    You Are What You Hear (Harry Witchel)

    If a few more sound branders chip in I might suggest to the ABA guys that we post this on their site and create a very useful resource for the whole industry.

    See you in Oxford at the Audio Branding Congress!

    Julian

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