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The Power of Sound Design in Product Creation

Neuron Soundware (NSW) has a mammoth library of more than 1.1 billion sound recordings. Although to date the company has used this library mainly for condition monitoring of machines and control of various manufacturing processes, sound can be also used as a powerful tool in product design.

In the realm of product design, the significance of sound design is often overlooked, despite its potential to significantly enhance the user experience. Sound design, the art and practice of creating soundtracks for various needs, can create remarkable product developments. By understanding the psychology of sound and perception, designers can craft sounds that evoke emotion, trigger memories, and impact our perception of a product’s quality. There is no doubt that sound can contribute to a positive overall impression of a product’s quality.

One crucial aspect of sound design is sonic branding; this refers to the use of a special sound to promote products associated with a specific manufacturer. Emotions triggered by sound are more powerful than those triggered by visuals. This makes sound a very useful tool for brand recall. A sonic logo, which is the audible version of a visual logo, should be rightfully considered as a fully-fledged piece of brand work. Some companies NSW works with have invested heavily into sonic branding. The automotive sector in particular is engaged in this concept, and has put a lot of effort into designing exhaust sounds to reflect a particular persona and create a unique riding experience. It will be revealing to see how EV manufacturers will deal with the sonic branding that is so important to many users. For example, BMW created a sound design that mimics the sound of a gas-powered engine. The sound is played through external speakers when the car is moving at low speeds, giving pedestrians and cyclists a clear warning that a vehicle is nearby. By incorporating sound design into their electric cars, BMW has created a safer and more user-friendly product.

Good product sounds should be aligned with the expectations of a product, harmonized with its quality and function, and may also support brand value. Optimal product sounds can improve customer satisfaction and contribute to increased sales. In a competitive market, good product sounds can be a means of differentiating a product from those of competitors. Product sounds can also be used to support a brand, as seen in the example of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, where the sound is protected as a trademark in some countries. 

A product that makes a satisfying sound when you turn it on or off can create a positive association with that action. Sound can also provide crucial feedback to the user, helping them interact with the product and providing feedback for certain actions, like when a task has been completed successfully.

In summary, incorporating sound design into product creation can significantly enhance the consumer experience, create a positive association with the brand, and differentiate the product from competitors. By understanding the psychology of sound and perception, designers can craft sounds that evoke emotion, trigger memories, and impact our perception of a product’s quality, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the product.