Like fonts, lighting, colors, and scent, music helps to tell a brand’s story. Moreover, this story appears more attractive and vital when all of these modes of narration merge to create a unified experience for the consumer. As Ashley Poulter notes in a post for CEO Blog Nation, “The story behind the brand is as unique and creative as the entrepreneur creating it.” During initial client consultations, Music Designers take this into account by asking probing questions that reveal a brand’s origins, core values, historical trajectory, future plans, and changing demographics. The descriptive adjectives given in the answers (for example, “edgy,” “flirty,” “authentic,” and “energetic”) are particularly helpful guides for finding music that provides the appropriate feel.

A strong entrance into these conversations is to ask for elaboration on an aspect of the brand that stands out from marketing materials or intake information, one that distinguishes it as a true original. For example, I recently acquired a client that needed music for their NYC hotel restaurant and bar, called “Supernova.” I was intrigued by the name and inquired into why it was chosen, what it means to the marketing and management teams, and how it reflects the sound that the space should have. They told me that the name is based on the color-shifting geometrical patterns of the Times Square Ball dropped on New Year’s Eve and the new beginnings and time shifts that it represents. A supernova—the explosion of a massive star—is also a colorful and rare occurrence, like a sensory-overloaded tourist experiencing the hubbub, spectacle, vanguard, and cultural hybrids of NYC for the first time. This narrative of “Supernova” led to the use of component genres for their Custom style (which could also be a grouping of Core styles) that are upbeat, vibrant, and distinct from one another but quintessentially “New York,” such as Broadway Hits, NYC Jazz, Salsa, and New Wave.

An effective music design concept also connects a brand narrative to the features and content of its spaces, creating a feedback loop of identity reinforcement.


Supernova’s floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terrace seating place the patron squarely within the dazzling lights of Times Square. This experience is enhanced by indoor décor that uses neon and metallic surfaces, low overhead lighting paired with generous backlighting, and supernova-inspired artwork. The aural correlate to Supernova’s visual and tangible design is the cool yet playful innovation imparted by NYC Electro, Lounge, Funk, and New Wave songs and remixes.


When chosen well, music provides continuity between the verbal communication of a brand ideal and its physical realization. It mediates mind and body, giving ideas a fluid materiality and products/architecture a felt significance. In this way, it adds a layer of emotional resonance to the brand experience that increases the likelihood of customer allegiance: the stronger the reinforcement of brand identity, or personality, the more confident a brand appears. This leads to more cases of successfully convincing clientele that its offerings are “must-haves” that will improve their lives, and fewer cases of “one-off” suggestions based on the subjective individual taste distracting from the moral of the story.

– Submitted by Amy Frishkey, Music Design

*Photos by Shalonn Hilburn