Hearing is our most primal sense, and yet it is astoundingly undervalued. Sound is rated as a key element of brand communication by 41% of consumers, but only 12% of the world’s marketing communication budgets are spent on it. This makes little sense, because consistent sound increases the impact of visual communication by up to 1207%*. Businesses and other organisations would benefit hugely by focusing on coherent audio branding.
There are three core reasons why hearing should be taken more seriously in any branding situation.
1. Hearing is our first sense in time
Firstly, we simply cannot turn our hearing off. The engine of the ear reaches adult size and functionality just 18 weeks after conception. We are fully able to hear from that moment on, which is long before our eyes begin to see. Our hearing being ‘switched on’ all the time also means we keep analysing our surroundings even in our sleep. We don’t have ‘earlids’ to close our ears for the night.
2. Hearing is our first sense in space
Secondly, in addition to not having earlids, neither do we have a ‘deaf spot’ because hearing is our primary warning sense. At least subconsciously, we notice everything around us. That’s why hearing is also crucial to our spatial awareness. Most people can recognise very accurately where a sound is coming from based on acoustics. That’s exactly why we have the ability to distinguish information about our surroundings in fine detail, such as whether the walls are close, whether the room is small or whether we’re alone in a big hall.
3. Hearing is our first sense in sensitivity
Lastly, hearing is almost a hundred times as sensitive as sight: we can distinguish between 150 colour hues, in comparison to almost 1500 ‘just noticeable differences’ in tone that some scientists have been able to distinguish. Nuances that reveal e.g. disappointment, jealousy or devotion can be spotted instantly in words that are otherwise generic.
That’s why hearing is #1 sense and your sound really matters!
This is the first blog post on our new Sound Economy Series. In the upcoming posts we will dive more deeply into how sound actually affects us, and the concept of audio branding.
*Treasure, Julian 2009: Sound Affects! in Audio Branding Academy Yearbook 2009/2010. Eds. Bronner, Hirt & Ringe. Nomos