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What does your business sound like?

Organizations spend millions on visual identity. But almost nothing on aural identity – what you sound like to customers. Yet sound has a massive impact on your customer experience. Apparently two sounds that put customers’ teeth on edge are espresso machines and diesel engines, according to this book. The latter is not surprising but the former gives you pause for thought if you are a Starbucks-a-like and think your proposition is a relaxing place for a quiet cup of coffee…but your espresso machines are the equivalent to finger nails on a blackboard to your customers.

I am interested in this book for the same reason Martin Lindstrom’s Brand Sense and Shaun Smith’s See, Feel, Think, Do books are interesting: they help us think more clearly about designing a customer experience based on all the senses with which the customer experiences your brand. Treasure is one of the few experts in the neglected area of sound design. Even the word ‘design’ has visual origins, so excludes sound.

Treasure includes a CD with his book that lets you listen to turn-ons and turn-offs that will keep your customers relaxed and happy or tense and running for the door (often without realising why).

At Glasgow airport they play natural, ambient sounds (birds singing, plus soothing chillout music underneath it) over the loudspeakers to relax travellers. Sales in the airport shops went up 10%. Supermarkets have always been good at this manipulation of the senses and I don’t like the underhand aspects of that. But the rest of Treasure’s proposition is, er, sound.


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