Most organizations have relied almost exclusively on the sense of sight to communicate who they are, what they do and why they matter. Pirates have their unmistakable skull-and-bones flag. Nearly all religions have their own unique symbol. And today, practically every brand on earth has its own visual identity. Other senses are rarely part of the equation.
Yet sound has unquestionable potential in creating impressions. Consider the sonic snippets in your life—imagine Chariots of Fire or Rocky without music, a PC commercial without that Intel Inside bongggg, or a Harley-Davidson hog without its expertly calibrated tone. Sound triggers recall and reactions. And much like good visual or industrial design, it also has the ability to convey value and strengthen brand reputations.
Our everyday response to sound
Sound has an immediate, direct link to both the rational and emotional parts of our brain. The sound of a screaming baby will raise your hackles in no time. On the other hand, the sound of a gentle stream or windswept field is more of a feeling—one that’s calm and soothing, perhaps even therapeutic.
None of this is news until you consider the cumulative effect. We’re exposed to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of sounds each day. Our brains sift through all of them, selecting those that deserve a response—usually those that are linked to a benefit or are vital to our survival. Many direct our feelings, thoughts, actions and speech. Sound acts as a filter through which we experience and understand our world. To be continued…