The Power Of Sound In Brand Formation

A social experiment shows how to make a successful radio spot


This week we bring you the latest German research from RMS, ARD MEDIA and Radiozentrale, which we are able to bring to you thanks to bTV Radio Group's membership in the European trade body for marketers of advertising solutions (EGTA). The research was developed in the form of a fictional chocolate brand experiment and strikingly demonstrates the emotional power of radio and the importance of creative audio elements in shaping brand perception.

Three different radio spots for the fictional chocolate bar brand “Macanu” were created specifically for the experiment. Each spot was produced by a separate company, using identical copy but the creative approach was completely different in terms of design, speaker voice and tone, music, sounds, etc. The aim of the research is to show the different emotional effects of each spot on radio listeners and the importance of sound branding on an audience sample.

Each spot triggers the imagination of its listeners, creating images in the "theatre of the mind" as radio is often called, generating different emotions and brand attributes. As a result, the brand image differs significantly depending on which version of the spot participants have heard.

The copy text for each version of the spot introduces the new chocolate bar:

What is it? It's the new Makanu. Simply crunchy, hand-picked macadamia nuts coated in creamy caramel in an organic dark chocolate shell. The taste is simply indescribable and it does a good job. Makanu. The new chocolate bar.

Research has shown that the power of audio can dramatically shape the right brand image.

In the first spot, listeners imagined the brand as passionate and extravagant:

Option 1:

The second spot offers a youthful and hedonistic vision.

Option 2:

And the third radio spot creates the feeling of a conscious and responsible brand.

Option 3:

* All images are sourced from the original study and are published without any changes.

The power of the different audio elements went even further: the different brand images generated by each spot were reflected in the design and packaging that listeners imagined for the chocolate bar. For the "seduction" spot, it was a combination of noble and restrained simplicity with exciting, high-quality details that created an expensive look and feel. For the "young and hedonistic" version, it was a floral design with a torn packaging. Finally, the "inner peace" version emphasized the sustainability aspect with a textured surface and natural color.

Finally, the spots were also able to virtually transport the listener to potential shopping locations where they might expect to find the product (such as supermarkets, a pharmacy, or gas stations). The different locations even conveyed different price points (the selling price participants would expect for the chocolate bar) and all three were able to generate a high level of interest in the product and a willingness to try the new product, Macanu.

The study was conducted by the German sales houses ARD MEDIA and RMS, in collaboration with the trade body, Radiozentrale, and the research company September.

The original study can be found here: