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    The music stairway (no, not the Led Zeppelin song)

    The most important question for a brand is not whether they should use music, but rather how the music should be used. The four step ‘music stairway’ illustrates the most beneficial way for brands to work strategically with music.

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    Many brands find themselves on Step One. This step is characterised by the unconscious usage of music. Essentially this is an ad hoc, make-it-up-as-you-go approach, often relying on staff or employees to choose music. The end result is a schizophrenic music experience that sends mixed branding signals to customers.

    Step Two is characterised by a conscious usage of music. Brands have developed their own music identity, through a defined sound with defined values. Often they have a sound logo or theme song. On Step Two, music has evolved into a branding element and strategic tool.

    Moving up to Step Three, a brand becomes even more actively involved in music. This commitment often takes form as music-oriented marketing campaigns ( e.g. “buy and get” promotions) and/or artist partnerships. A good example of a Step Three level of music involvement is Heineken’s ‘Green Room Sessions’ - a live club concept, presenting cutting edge artists and DJs.

    The Forth and final step on the music stairway requires ‘owning’ a strategic platform in music culture. In this scenario, brands are not merely associated with music, but also actively champion music through exclusive platforms or programs that can’t be found anywhere else. The Red Bull Music Academy is a good example of this.

    So the million dollar question is…What step is your brand on?

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