101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
Founder and CEO at TMRW
“There is scientific proof that a brand is more impactful if it attracts people with more than visuals and words. The more senses you attract the more memorable you become.”
Linda Stannieder, Founder and CEO, TMRW.
After working in the field of ‘brand experiences’ with clients worldwide, Linda Stannieder today specializes in future scenarios and inventions. Her company TMRW Ventures is involved in innovation strategies, future visions, and prototyping for brand expressions, products, and services on the edge of technology, humanity and nature. Her work is driven by deep insights into changing patterns in our daily lives, into human behaviors and needs and into the developments of advanced technologies. Being able to create valuable foresights, her main focus is in supporting research and development of clients.
Uli Reese: What are you working on right now?
Linda Stannieder: One main research topic right now is how humans will interact with AI and advanced technologies in the future and how we can create a more harmonious relationship between us and future generations of technologies.
Reese: Tell me about the role of audio in customer experience.
Linda: I’ve always believed in sonic branding and have pushed hard for it. I’m also a believer in science. When you talk about having an impact on consumers worldwide you can’t get around the topic of multi-sense branding. Aiming for a memorable emotional impact as a product or a service, you have to attract people with more than one sense. There is scientific proof that a brand is more impactful if it attracts people with more than visuals and words. The more senses you attract the more memorable you become.
Reese: Why do you think is there a growing importance for audio in the digital age?
Linda: What I have witnessed over the years is that a lot of companies struggle with developing a sonic identity. The development of this part of a brand identity has always been widely underestimated. Now – with more and more digital interactions – brand management teams are getting more into the topic. Everybody understands that whatever device or digital service you are interacting with, it has certain functions that guide or attract more, when they are linked to sonic expressions.
In some cases, digital interactions without any other brand appearance might even be your only touchpoint to end-consumers.
Voice assistants are a good example of this. They will become far more important as a main interface to services and brands. Besides the fact that they are perceived today as not being intelligent enough, the voice itself influences whether people like or dislike interacting with the voice at all. Does the brand and its voice assistant speak with one predefined voice or does the voice need to adapt to the person it talks to?
Reese: Do you consider voice as a part of sonic branding?
Linda: Yes. Especially now with self-learning and generative systems becoming reality. But if you talk about the customization of voices and my own interests or personal assets being translated into a voice – the big question is: How do we define sound branding today? We are facing a new era of branding, which declares a part of a brand as being adaptable to the individual it aims to attract. Taking the example of a voice: How much of the voice conveys a brand identity and what are flexible elements that connect to an individual’s taste patterns? Do we even want this kind of connection with a technology or a brand? Depending on the demographics and market we look at, people expect or dislike these kinds of interactions and personalized behavior.
It is definitely becoming more complicated. 15 years ago, when I lived in China, I witnessed many brands entering the market with their global brand guidelines.
Back then, the big question was if the brand design needed to be consistent in all countries – independent of how people would read it in their different cultures – or if a cultural adaptation would be allowed. Today, the question is not how a brand adapts in different markets, the question is, if and how it adapts to different people depending on their social profile, their own values and their emotional status.
Reese: When I visited China years ago I realized that their sensitivity to sound and to UX UI is very special. Would you agree?
Linda: There is a huge difference between China and other countries on how people evaluate what they see and hear. What they find attractive is different to other cultures. For example, a website design in China was considered a failure because Chinese tests said it was boring and not animated or energizing enough, whereas the Germans thought it provided the right guidance, content structure and appeared well thought through. How things are perceived is often very different in China – that also counts for sonic events.
There needs to be a DNA! The core of everything I do is the brand strategy. Who do you want to reach? What is your vision? What do you stand for? How do you differentiate from your competition?
Reese: Where do you start developing a sonic event if there is no DNA?
Linda: There needs to be a DNA! The core of everything I do is the brand strategy. Who do you want to reach? What is your vision? What do you stand for? How do you differentiate from your competition? In addition, there is often a specific product brand or strategy involved. What are the goals for this particular task and what is the relationship to the brand? Is there a certain freedom or do we have to stay consistent? It requires a deep dive into more strategic questions before an ideation process defines how this strategic framework translates into sonic events.
Reese: How can you fix a broken sonic experience?
Linda: The reasons for broken experiences are not sonic events. What brands express and what consumers perceive is a multitude of expressions that need to be in sync with each other. Sonic events come with visuals, with spoken or written words. What we see and listen to needs to be authentic to what we believe the brand stands for or wants to achieve. To what we believe is consistent with the brand. To what we believe is a fit to a certain situation – and a certain target group.
Reese: How important is AI in contact with consumers going to be?
Linda: A future where AI interacts with us in all kinds of situations in our daily lives is undeniable. The underlying question is how will advanced technologies and humans interact with each other: Will we believe in empathy built into technologies? Will they follow a set of own values and interaction criteria? How ‘human’ will we expect technology to behave? Assuming that people would even want to interact with technology in a more human way and we expect ‘it’ to predict things and enable us more, I believe there will be three phases:
Firstly, the AI needs to be able to understand who we are and diagnose how we are. Secondly, the AI needs to learn and anticipate what we need and want. And finally, the AI will enhance our capabilities, create a positive impact not only on our physical and mental capabilities but also on our emotional status. Sonic events play an important role in this process because sound in particular has an extraordinary impact on our memory and our wellbeing.
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