The Do’s and Don’ts of Sound Branding

Brands invest heavily in their visual appeal. But when it comes to in-store audio, your brand’s music is its voice. As Content Manager at Future Dimensions Media, Jason Stoffberg is responsible for some of the most successful retail soundscapes in Africa. He talks us through the do’s and don’ts of making a brand audibly awesome.

5 Point Audio Assessment

  • Consider the business type and the product or service it provides.
  • The brand’s core values must align with its sound – elegant and classic, or trendy and boundary-pushing?
  • Determine the desired function of sound in the retail space.
  • Set the volume – loud and expressive, or soft and discreet?
  • Install the appropriate hardware (speakers, amplifiers etc.) for the space and sound requirements.

5 Top Tricks

  • Music tempo affects the time customers spend instore. Faster music moves them along more quickly, while slower music encourages shoppers to linger longer.
  • Music has an impact on customers’ perceived time spent instore. Top 40 titles add to the length of perceived time, while unfamiliar songs result in a shorter perceived time instore.
  • Music impacts purchasing decisions. Studies have shown that playing classical music results in customers purchasing different products, compared to when top 40 music is played.
  • Music acts as a trigger for brand association.
  • Music is used to drown out grey noise, thereby enhancing the shopping experience. Ever noticed that audio in the food section is louder to compensate for refrigeration?

3  Playlist No-No’s

  • Avoid top 40 playlists.
  • Avoid titles with explicit lyrics, even if the brand is not overtly family orientated.
  • Avoid titles with sensitive lyrics. Lyrics that may be perfectly acceptable to most listeners could offend a more sensitive or conservative segment of society.

Top Retail Audio Trends

  • The trend is towards customised playlists. Retailers are realising that generic playlists do not support their branding strategies.
  • Carefully curated playlists have a significant positive impact on customer experience and purchasing patterns.
  • There is a shift from single genre playlists to playlists spanning multiple genres. Done correctly, this creates unique soundscapes that are easily identifiable with a brand.


“Carefully considered speaker layout, investment in good quality sound and a well-curated playlist says a lot about the attention to detail a brand gives to its customers and their instore experience.”


“It’s a complete turn-off when a brand invests in lighting, store layout, menu design, customer service etc, without an equivalent investment in the audio environment. Inferior sound quality and poorly curated playlists can ruin the entire experience.”