How music grows brands?

Music is perhaps the only language that can connect people everywhere irrespective of the diversity. While it manifests itself in a myriad forms and cultural disciplines, there is no denying that it’s a powerful medium of emotional expression with unique psychological qualities. Yet, there are a relatively a small number of brands that utilise the inherent passion that exists within music to connect with an incredibly fragmented and diverse audience set.


One of the reasons is the deluge of platforms that we are experiencing in the advertising and communications industry, today. The entire marketing industry right now is somewhat obsessed with social feeds, the rise of Instagram and the pivot-to-video which is reducing a lot of advertising to six-second bumpers on YouTube and Facebook and not much else. Often, brands don’t quite know where to start when it comes to music-based marketing strategy. With the rise of digital music available on a multitude of devices, there is ultimately no limit to what marketers can achieve by using the power of music to drive impactful results.

Music is a big part of life across the Asia Pacific region. To take the example of Hong Kong; 72% of HongKongers listening to music on average of 21 hours a week and the millennial audience averaging even more so, with 87% of them listening to music on average of 28 hours a week. This connection with music is growing driven by several key factors.

Firstly, technology is allowing anytime, anywhere access to everyone’s favourite songs and this has led to highly competitive “streaming wars” between several different platforms including Spotify, Joox, MOOV, KKBox, Music One and Apple music – all trying to offer better content, larger music selections and exclusive artist access and content to their customers.

The live music scene in Hong Kong is expanding every year, with new venues opening, ticket sales increasing and an expectation that more and more people will be visiting the city via the new high-speed train line or newly opened Zhuhai/Macau/HK bridge - making travelling to events in Hong Kong much easier for a much larger audience.

This really is the moment for brands to capitalise on music to help engage with their consumers. The following eight approaches can help brands to incorporate music in their strategy for building either long-term branding or for short-term activations.

Long-Term Branding

  • Jingles and Theme Songs: 74% of people in Hong Kong reported songs helped when they were trying to remember the message of a certain product or brand – they are highly memorable and create long-lasting awareness
  • Long-term Brand Ambassadors: By partnering with an artist that has a personality that aligns closely to a brand, it can strengthen a positive association between the brand and its target consumers
  • Claimed Music Events: Holding branded music events over a long period of time on an annual basis accumulate hundreds of assets in music, which enhances brand image in the long term and builds positive association with events that are important to people e.g. Corona’s Sunsets Festival or the Red Bull Music Festival
  • Facilitators of music: Building music into a product or service, such as Nike has done with its tailored playlists for its running club, can increase brand loyalty and continued usage by consumers

Short-term Activations

  • Song Licensing: By incorporating an existing song into a campaign, it can give you immediate recognition and attention as a short-cut to product awareness
  • Artist Endorsement: Using an artist for one specific campaign or product run can increase short-term sales and buzz
  • One-off Concert Sponsorship: Sponsorships can provide a wide variety of opportunities to increase engagement that a brand couldn’t normally offer, from priority tickets, to back-stage access, to even providing clothes washing services at festivals like LG did at Bonnaroo.
  • Online Platform Co-operation: paid ad placements are still a great way to drive reach on music platforms – and paid formats can utilise mobile and in-app advertising in a less interruptive and more engaging way than those pesky six second bumper videos!

Across all of these approaches, it is important to keep in mind that the suitability and fit of a musician and their music with your brand is extremely important as it is the association you build between the two that can deliver success. Additionally, think carefully about whether it’s long-term or short-term goals you want to achieve, whether it’s recall, awareness or sales that are your key objectives. Keeping the objective in mind provides a much-needed clarity and encourages meaningful connections between brands and consumers.

The writer is Duncan Bell, senior strategist of Havas Media Hong Kong.