Music and Branding #6

This is a translation of the column I'm writing for Danish industry publication Markedsføring (Marketing). Music and Branding deals with the trinity of brands, bands, and fans. It looks at how brands use (or don't use) music as part of their brand building efforts and how bands collaborate with brands. 
This column (# 6) was published in issue #14 out Nov 30th, 2010 and focuses on brand fit and relevance. Please find links to the first five columns at the bottom.

In the previous column we looked at the barriers that seem to exist for brands working more strategically with music as part of the brand building. We concluded that immaterial rights management, measuring effect, and professional objectivity are three major barriers that are keeping brands from working wholeheartedly, systematically, and strategically with music.
I actually think that professional objectivity is the biggest issue. How do we ensure that the selection of music is done on the basis of pragmatic and strategic considerations rather that unfounded feelings about what we personally like?
We know that values match between brand, music and target audience is critical for success - fit and relevance. That's what we'll look into in this column.

There needs to be a purpose
A 'brand' is not something we attach at the end of the marketing process when we're, say, launching a new product; it's the starting point for the entire strategic planning. 'CSR' is not something we do once in a while; it's something we are as a brand and company, all the time. Similarly, music needs to have an equally meaningful role for any brand that wants to use music in its brand building efforts.
By 'brand building' I don't mean the individual campaigns and advertising. I'm talking about the continuous effort internally in the organisation and externally in the market involved in positioning, differentiating, and maximizing the brand and its value for the company, owners, customers and all other stakeholders.
There's nothing more cringeworthy than a brand that comes up with a CSR activity which they then run as a campaign, and which by the way has nothing to do with the company's area of business. That's as bad as a brand with music glued onto it without any apparent coherence with whatever the brand is delivering in the market, or with its inherent values.
It makes sense if Best Buy is associated with music. Does it make sense if Whole Foods is? It makes sense that Tuborg is associated with music. Does it make sense if Danish Crown Bacon is? It makes sense that Apple is associated with music. Does it make sense if Google is?

Brand, band, context - does it all fit?
Rather than starting out with genres - our brand is 'jazzy', our brand is 'rock-ish' - start with target audience match and values match. What's the brand's target audience, what are the brand values, what music holds these values - and is there a match with the target audience?
The choice of music also needs to go hand in hand with the context in which the music will be used and what's practical and appropriate for that particular touch point.
Copenhagen's biggest and most enduring department store, Magasin du Nord, hosts a juice bar at its bottom floor called Joe & the Juice. It's right next to, or part of, the make-up and perfume department. Joe & the Juice have a habit of playing very loud club type music which seems out of place for the intimate and quiet make-up and perfume department, and for the fact that most people more than anything come to the juice bar to vegetate after a hectic shopping safari. Joe & the Juice's lack of sensitivity reflects badly on themselves, and on Magasin du Nord.
These decisions on coherence should not be taken randomly according to a moment's gut feeling and what 'I kinda feel like today', but be based on insights.
And when we dig deeper and look at collaborations between individual artists and brands, the coherence becomes even more important.
For example, I was a bit confused by the collaboration between Danish dance duo Infernal and McDonald's some time ago. On the surface it seemed just right and bang-on: Brand and artist share target audience and the values of joy and energy. But when one part of the duo is a declared health nut, then I struggle to see the point. It's as if both parties just hadn't quite thought it through.

Fragmentation requires facts
Music is a lot more complex to associate a brand with than eg sports. This is due to music's strong inherent emotional dimension which can have a different effect on different people.
Music is more fragmented than sports as far as genres and segments go, and one of the biggest pitfalls for a brand is lack of research into how or if a music activity - eg a sponsorship or the music played in the stores - is congruent with 1) the target audience of the brand and 2) their perception of the brand in the various markets, at that point in time.
For any music initiative started, driven or sponsored by a brand, sincerity and authenticity is crucial. And if we don't know what that means to our target audience from deep immersion into the culture we as a brand represent - ie their culture - then we better find out, and fast.

But how do we find out what our target audience likes and which values are associated with which genres and artists? How do we find out what makes sense?
In 2007, a group of agencies in the UK incl. Millward Brown and Mindshare did some research into these exact questions. In the next column, we will look at what they found.

Previous columns:
Music and Branding #1
Music and Branding #2
Music and Branding #3
Music and Branding #4
Music and Branding #5

What great companies continuously ask

'Can we save money here, can we charge more there? Great companies don't do that. They ask, 'How can we make it easier, simpler, more fun to do business with us?' They look at the whole experience (Vernon Hill)

What's an influential brand in the UK vs in the US

Interesting comparison between the top 10 most influential brands in the UK and ditto in the US, posted on Treehugger' site here.
Not only does it show the growing importance of the ethical brand, it also shows that national brands - still - play an important role, despite globalization.

Music and Branding #5

This is a translation of the column I'm writing for Danish industry publication Markedsføring (Marketing). Music and Branding deals with the trinity of brands, bands, and fans. It looks at how brands use (or don't use) music as part of their brand building efforts and how bands collaborate with brands. 
This column (# 5) was published in issue #13 out Nov 9th, 2010 and focuses on how brands are using music and to what extent they are dedicating the resources to make it a success. Please find links to the first three columns at the bottom.

In the previous column in Markedsføring #12 (column #4 here), we looked at the link between the interest of brands for using music as part of their brand marketing and the resources that they dedicate to it. And found that in fact there isn't much of a link.
Many brands want to use music and think it's important for brand-building but don't invest risk, time, money, hands, skills, or thinking to do it properly, ie in a purposeful, value creating way. In this column we will investigate the reasons for this. What are the barriers?

Rights management
Rights management, in this case intellectual property rights (IPR), is an area of increasing importance and ditto complexity when working commercially with music. Not only is IPR fundamentally complicated, new digital platforms and tools, the fragmentation of sales and distribution channels, and the difference in national legislation increase this complexity.
There really is a lot to be aware of and be buttoned-down about, and we can't blame brands for saying 'No thanks, we'll pass'. After all, commercial use of music is not their core business.
When I was European digital director at Levi's - where music is in an integral part of the brand marketing and a central element in consumer engagement - I had good use of our in-house lawyers who are IPR specialists. But even their insight and my experience from the record business wasn't enough - quite simply because music IPR is so intricate and because new opportunities emerge constantly which the legislation hasn't quite caught up with yet.
Many brands try to manage the IPR stuff themselves or ask the ad agency to do it. But a layman is a layman, and the consequence often is that the brand fails to secure all necessary exploitation rights, and fails to clarify liability. Both can be very costly.
At Levi's we would work with external experts to assess rights costs, formulate and negotiate the deals and manage payment to the various rights societies etc. I strongly recommend doing it this way.

Measuring effect
Another barrier for brands to using music strategically is measuring effect or ROI. How do we know if the investment comes back, how do we measure it? And this is just the right question to ask. But it starts with establishing the right objectives. Without objectives, there's nothing to measure against.
The reality often is - as previously described - that the brands haven't clarified for themselves why they want to use music. What is the purpose and what do we want to achieve? See column #3 for more about music strategy.
So before you start whining about the difficulties of measuring ROI, get your success criteria in place, find out what you want to measure and why.
As we saw in the previous column (#4), precious few brands have customer loyalty and even fewer have sales as objectives. There is a lack of commercial focus which really is the place to start. When you have your objectives and success criteria in place, you establish the KPIs and then you start tracking them, just you do with the other marketing activities.

Rights management and measuring effect is stuff you can do something about pretty easily. It's much more difficult with the third barrier.
The third barrier is this nonchalant or random approach to the use of music. An approach deriving from bias and personal opinions within the marketing departments and/or the agencies. In other words: Objectivity is still a scarce resource.
It's as if music is not viewed as a credible, serious and valid strategic brand-building tool: Professionalism is allowed to put its feet up and relax, while decisions on music is taken on the basis of personal points of view and not according to what's appropriate for the brand and the target audience.
But as with any other marketing activity it's necessary to be concscious of the effect that our messages/activities - in this case, the music - will have on the brand as well as understand the target audience's preferences and possible reactions.
We might think to ourselves that we're one kick-ass fabulous music guru, but it's not our knowledge of music that makes us a good music marketing strategist - although some interest in music and music culture obviously helps. What makes someone good at using music strategically for brand-building purposes is the ability to place music in the bigger brand picture in a way that consistently benefits the brand and supports its strategic goals.

In the next column we will focus on the important objectivity and take a closer look at relevance and brand fit, ie the part of a music strategy that deals with values match.

Previous columns:
Music and Branding #1
Music and Branding #2
Music and Branding #3
Music and Branding #4

Why we 'like' a brand

This report which can be found on PSFK's website looks at why Facebook users choose to 'like' a brand on Facebook. The bad news is that most people do it to get a discount or other price offer, the good news is that just as many do it to show their support for the brand in question.

The last reason people list for 'liking' a brand on Facebook is 'to share ideas, provide feedback'. Interesting, considering Facebook is a social network where people meet to share ideas and provide feedback.

But (still) not in a commercial context, it seems. Or maybe the brands just (still) aren't good enough at using Facebook in a way the benefits both brand and consumers.