Voice and music are common features within a lively salon – conversation and background sound being so important to the hairdressing profession – but are too infrequently seen as essential elements of the marketing mix.
In fact, sound can play a significant role in moulding customer perception and reinforcing brand image, particularly over the telephone. A study of 1,000 UK consumers found 51% feel more valued if they hear customised voice and music while waiting on hold and 54% said it made a company sound more professional.
This is important for hairdressers, as 42 per cent still prefer to have enquiries answered over the phone rather than looking online. Meanwhile, a separate study of 3,360 UK businesses by PHMG found hairdressing salons are putting customers on hold for an average of 33.55 seconds per call.
When it comes to implementing a suitable audio brand, the process is much the same as the one used to develop a visual brand.
Many businesses use existing voice and music tracks over the phone but this approach might not always be appropriate.
Popular music comes with emotional baggage, as people will already have attached meaning to tracks they have heard before. As a result, success becomes a lottery of the listener’s personal experience.
Meanwhile, generic voice and music are bland and frequently perceived as irritating, so it is important to think about the brand characteristics of your organisation and select elements to match.
When it comes to music, the different elements that affect a way a track is perceived include key, tempo, playing style, chord pattern and instrumentation.
By varying these characteristics, it is possible to communicate different values and emotions. For example, organic instrumentation – such as acoustic guitars and pianos – might be used to form a relaxed and friendly sound. A more electronic sound, however, might be perceived as energetic and forward-thinking.
It’s a similar situation with voice, where gender, accent and pitch should be considered when deciding what kind of voice best suits your organisation.
A masculine voice is generally perceived as authoritative so could be used to convey a sense of professionalism and knowledge, while a feminine voice is perceived as more soothing and understanding, underlining a commitment to good service.
An accent can provide further reassurance, either as a way to reinforce certain values – a Mancunian accent is perceived as industrious and creative for example – or to help the customer feel they are dealing with a company that understands them.
Regular change is vital in order to maintain the customer’s attention. Studies have shown that if customers hear the same messages continuously, they will reach a point when they simply switch off. This means the audio brand will no longer fulfil the purpose for which it is intended.
In order to continue resonating with customers, salons should look to change messaging to reflect seasonal trends and offers, or according to changes in the service proposition.
It may also be appropriate to invest in different voice and music tracks that are designed according to the same brand guidelines but are distinct enough to keep things fresh.