First Impressions: Music Matters

24 Apr 2016

Ambie Event

Our lives are filled with first impressions. New jobs, first dates and daily encounters entice us to create the best versions of ourselves.

The same can be said about our businesses. Over the past 10 years, we have become experts at perfecting our look. Expensive branding exercises and free canvas tote bags, interior design and visual merchandising all have a pivotal role in how we promote our businesses and create brand affiliation. We know just how important that first impact is, and have learned how to make a good one.

But after putting in so much effort to making the business look right, the question is have we thought enough about how our business sounds? Sounds like Branding reported that 97% of people think that music strengthens their brand. However, according to the same survey, 6 out of 10 have not identified how their brand sounds. Starbucks is a good example of a company who have created a great brand soundtrack. In fact, it has been so successful that they made a new multi-million dollar revenue stream through selling Starbucks music compilation CDs.


Music and lyrics make an impression and stay imprinted in people’s minds, so if you associate your brand with particular music, it can be crucial in shaping the future emotions that people feel about you. Similar to Daniel Kahneman’s apt description in his TED talk “The riddle of experience vs memory,” once you have had a negative experience during an event, it can ruin your memory of the incident as a whole, even if the majority of it was positive. As music is so memorable, it is fundamental that it doesn’t become a negative influence on the brand experience, and ruin all the other hard work you’ve put into looking the part.

Using a consumer streaming service like Spotify which is controlled by the staff can seem like a cheap and easy solution, but how much of the work you’ve done on your brand identity are you actually putting at risk? From Justin Bieber in a luxury watch shop to Barbara Striesand in a blues bar, it can be risky leaving the aural branding of your business up to the personal taste of the people you employ to work in it.

Shoreditch Grind Playlist

Luckily, curating the music in your business is a really affordable way to transmit your brand ethos to potential customers. After putting in so much work on the face of your business, underpinning this with the right music will help you to engage and connect, and for people to understand the personality of your brand within minutes of walking into your retail space.

Chris Fung, the managing director of Crussh (fit food and juice bars) wanted to improve the brand soundtrack in all of his stores. Making playlists was very time consuming, and as the MD of 26 stores it had become impossible to know what was going on in each one. He came to Ambie with his problem, hoping that we would be able to help.


As the go-to lunch spot appeals to a wide audience, it was fundamental that the soundtrack was relaxed and engaging enough for people to find welcoming when they enter the store, but universal enough not to trigger a negative reaction in anyone. It was also important that the staff enjoy the music, which meant limited repeats, keeping them more engaged and motivated throughout the day. Chris worked closely with us to create a music soundtrack that matched the Crussh brand. Some of the solutions to creating a relevant soundtrack for Crussh were:

  • Sourcing the newest releases alongside the more established and recognisable tracks. Crussh’s soundtrack is truly global, bringing in elements of African, South American and Balkan music, so it was important to source exciting international content.

  • Creating different playlists to suit the stores various trading patterns. Working with Ambie, Crussh created a soundtrack that incorporated acoustic and jazz elements in the quieter moments, moving through to busier electronic sounds during the busier times. The Ambie scheduling tool allows for easy changes to the music on-the-fly so staff can be reactive to changes in mood and ambience.

  • Ensuring the playlists are updated on a regular basis - bringing in the right balance of updates for staff morale whilst ensuring the quality and consistency of the soundtrack always remains high.


Ambie’s head music curator, Ben Yates, shares his 3 most important steps to picking the right music for any space:

  1. Know your audience. Think about the clientele that you attract, and the type of people that they are. Your music, like all other areas of your business, needs to be focused towards their likes and dislikes, not yours.

  2. Check your Brand Guidelines. Look at the adjectives used in your guidelines. Is your brand friendly? Luxurious? Calm? Romantic? Adventurous? These need to be reiterated through your music selection, and appropriate to your environment.

  3. What’s Your Tempo. Tempo is another powerful tool, so think about this when selecting your music. Do you want a serene sensation similar to a spa or uptempo dance songs to increase energy?

Try playing around with volume, tempo and mood in your store and what change you notices, or get in touch with us here at Ambie to chat to us about branding your sound.