Courtesy PHMG

From logos to letterheads, websites to vehicle signs, construction company owners will usually give careful consideration to how their organization looks. Visual branding has become well established as a central part of any marketing strategy. But what about the way a business sounds?

The sense of hearing is particularly effective in provoking the recall of particular memories or feelings that buyers associate with certain sounds, says Dan Lafferty, director of voice and music at London-based PH Media Group, a provider of on-hold marketing services to construction companies around the world. Lafferty is an expert at helping businesses apply the power of sounds to marketing, using audio to help provoke brand recall in customers’ minds.

Here, Lafferty talks with BUILDER about audio branding and how builders can use sound to influence customer behavior.

Dan Lafferty
Dan Lafferty

Are many business owners aware of the benefits of audio branding?
Too few businesses give any thought to audio branding, which applies to the voice and music heard over the telephone. Inappropriate use of voice and music will communicate the wrong image to the customer, creating a long-lasting negative perception which is difficult to shake.

Simply by ensuring your audio branding is congruent with existing visuals can help reinforce company values and create a positive impression.

How do companies choose a “voice” for their brand?
When choosing a voice for your business, it isn’t just as simple as getting a member of staff to read off a script. There are a number of different variables to consider, such as whether the voice is female or male, young or old, or whether it should have an accent. Ultimately, it boils down to what each attribute communicates to the customer and whether it meshes with your existing brand image and values.

In the construction industry, customers need to know they are dealing with a professional, skilled organization that they can trust to get the project done on time and to specification. Perhaps it is unsurprising then that the most popular voice of the sector is aged 30 to 40, with a calm delivery and friendly tones. The older age profile conveys dependability and is typically perceived as more knowledgeable so can be advantageous in reinforcing a sense of reliability.

Which gender seems to be best for construction companies' voice?
The temptation for construction businesses might be to follow industry stereotypes and opt for a male voice simply because it matches typical preconceptions of the industry. However, it is more important to consider the brand’s unique identity and develop a customized solution which fits with it.

A masculine voice is generally perceived as authoritative and might be best suited for a larger, more corporate organization that prides itself on its reputation. On the other hand, a female voice is perceived as soothing and reassuring which might work best for a company looking to convey a sense of friendly, personal service.

If your company operates in an area with a strong regional identity, it may be worth incorporating an accent into your audio branding. Using a dialect helps to assert a sense of belonging, helping customers to identify with a company by speaking to them in a voice they can relate to.

How does music play a part in audio branding?
Many businesses will pick a piece of commercial music to play over the phone and on its premises, believing this represents the best way to engage with customers.

Music tracks have the ability to transport the listener to a certain moment in time and how they feel about the tune is a lottery of their previous experience of it. Take, for example, the first dance song at a wedding. Hearing it will remind the bride and groom of happy memories of their special day. However, what if the song has negative emotions attached to it?

Like with voice, an existing music track can’t also be made to fit a purpose it was never intended to. Implementing a piece of customized music ensures it is unique to the business and comes without any predetermined judgements. Physical attributes, such as volume, pitch and tempo, should all be taken into consideration when devising the track to help communicate emotional meaning and complement existing branding.

The construction industry trends to favor fast-paced music which is motivated in feel and upbeat in tempo. The mixture of live and electronic instrumentation reflects the trustworthy and personable nature of the business, reinforcing the attributes of the voice.

Is choosing one specific theme song a bad idea?
Overplaying a song can cause problems as sound fatigue can eventually kick in. Similarly, listening to the same audio messages while on hold can become boring and the listener will simply switch off. Refreshing the content on a regular basis ensures callers stay engaged while keeping customers informed about new services or recently acquired accreditations.

The sounds customers hear throughout every interaction with your business can subtly influence buying behavior and can be the difference in attracting new custom or putting people off. Construction firms would be wise to not only consider how well they look but how good they sound too.