In an increasingly information-saturated attention economy, the transmission of emotion is an essential driver for capturing a fickle audience. As audio takes on a growing role in branded content, how can we differentiate and personalize an impactful, high-tech and sensitive sonic experience?

Reaching out to people through sound

When we come into contact with a product or an object, we are not able to grasp every facet. Beyond any material link, certain aspects of the sensory realm allow us to define an identity and become more attached to it. The added value of a brand is based on the sensory experience.

While images are important, sound is unequivocally the universal language of sensation. As a result, brands are increasingly turning to the sonic experience to communicate their values and convey their messages. From the earliest age, sound is a vector of emotion, as shown by the work on the emotional and semiotic content of music carried out by Leonard B. Meyer, the eminent 20th century musicologist (Emotion and Meaning in Music, 1956).

To create a sonic experience, the process of creation goes beyond the framework of musical composition. Developed under the supervision of the Perception and Sound Design staff (UMR9912 STMS Research Lab – IRCAM, CNRS, Sorbonne University, the French Ministry of Culture), SpeaK is a collaborative tool that helps the client to co-construct a project in the best conditions, using a vocabulary of non-technical terms. This participatory method allows the sound designer to transform words into sounds in order to create a sound design that is in perfect harmony with the initial idea.

For this content to be relevant, the playback will have to be tailored to an individual experience. And for the audio experience to be meaningful, it will have to be technological.

A technological and innovative experience

Enriching the audio dimension within a project is an essential technological component for a unique experience. Whether the project is multi-sensory, interactive, immersive, or at the intersection of these areas: focus on the main types of sonic experiences with concrete applications.

At a time when physical sales outlets are being replaced by digital ones, transmitting and selling the emotion of a product such as perfume is a new challenge. The sound of Viktor & Rolf Infrared perfume from L’Oréal conveys the same sensations as smelling perfume: it raises the temperature. An innovative experience that invites you to discover a perfume through a sound sample.

At a time when young people are visually over-solicited, the Children’s Philharmonic wanted to reach them with a low-tech installation. Maestra, Maestro! allows children to play the role of a conductor in a playful way. With the movements of his arms, the child is able to conduct a symphony orchestra and change the way it plays. This musical experience makes the most of Ircam’s long-standing research into musical expression.

Immersive sound can only enrich the perception of these sonic experiences. By creating a sound bubble as in the Krug sonic tasting room, where the sound is multidirectional, the brain is more capable of perceiving the feelings you want to convey. Without having to artificially reconstruct a sound scene from a stereophonic broadcast, spatialization delivers the most natural listening experience possible.

These are all technological devices whose emotional impact must be assessed before they are deployed outside the laboratory, in order to evaluate their effectiveness.

Scientific evaluation of the impact of a sonic experience

To ensure that the sonic experience meets the client’s expectation, a rigorous scientific protocol must be followed. Despite the intimate and intangible nature of feelings, the impact must be measured from both a qualitative and quantitative point of view.

Certain brain areas are particularly involved in the decoding of auditory emotions. Emotion sits at the confluence of cognitive subprocesses, which act on specific emotional components. Following an auditory stimulus, a neurological examination can therefore explain an emotional state, but also propose predictors.

The results are optimized by conducting a survey of a representative sample group. Relevance is defined according to evaluation criteria related to the semantic fields initially identified. Statistical data from these studies are used to solve the formulated assumptions.

Treating the sonic experience in a holistic way is a complex operation that Ircam Amplify masters and supports at every stage of the project, across the entire sonic value chain: from sound design, to its enrichment by technology, to the measurement of its impact. A fascinating vantage point on the future of sonic experiences.