he best sound design is the sound design that goes unnoticed.
I know, sounds backwards doesn’t it? It’s not. Sound design is the most important aspect of any visual media project. Let me tell you why.
What is Sound Design?
Sound design (in terms of visual media) encompasses sound effects, music, additional vocals, or even the complete absence of sound.
It’s the term we use for any additional audio we add to a video to accompany and enhance the visuals. The powerful ballad you hear behind a tearjerking charity film, the sounds of birds added to an outdoor promo, additional voices used to convey a live audience, or the dramatic absence of sound all together in a suspenseful thriller.
Have you ever tried watching a sitcom like Friends without the canned laughter or seen one of those tearjerker videos of soldiers coming home to their dogs but without the music?
There is a reason the music is added in after the fact. It frames your emotions to be aligned to the response the creator desires. This is exactly why sound design is the key to immersing audiences and encouraging emotional responses.
Life is Loud!
Take a second to stop reading this article and just listen… seriously just stop and listen for 20 seconds… now
Welcome back…I missed you.
Now what did you hear? Cars? the wind? Your colleagues chatting? I’ll confidently make the assumption that you heard ‘something’. Life makes noise and life is loud.
So what if life didn’t make noise? Imagine cars driving past and feeling the wind on your face but hearing nothing… just silence. It would be jarring, peculiar and give you the sense that something is amiss.
Life needs sounds, and video as a visual representation of life needs to convey the sounds they portray or else they can’t immerse an audience.
If the audio content doesn’t match the visuals it pulls the viewer out of the experience and sets them on edge. They likely won’t know why they feel that way, as it’s a subconscious process but the disconnect will remain and your media won’t be effective.
Hit them in the feels
Emotion is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a marketing professional. Don’t get me wrong its a very manipulative tool, but I’d argue it’s one of the most effective tactics for getting audiences to engage with a brand and part with their money.
Using music to illicit an emotional response isn’t just about making people cry, it’s about getting them to engage, be that laughter, inspiration, empowerment, or just making them want to dance.
An emotional response is the holy grail for marketers, if your media can engage a consumer on an emotional level they’ve already aligned themselves with your brand. Which we all know translates to a much easier conversion when it comes to sales.
It’s the reason why wedding videographers use romantic music on their videos, to hit those brides right in the feels…
Bride: “John we loved the video, it was amazing, we all cried. I’ve shown Gina and Tina who are getting married next year, they definitely want you”
…. Similarly it’s why charitable organisations play such somber and emotional music in their adverts, it strikes a chord with the viewer, they feel engaged with the media, look favourably on the brand and their wallets open.
With great power comes great responsibility
Combining immersion and emotion is a powerful concoction that drives visual interactions.
The right choices can ensure a brand’s message reaches their audience in a way that not just engages them, but aligns their values with that of the brands, bonding them to it.
Whether you are a marketing professional or a fellow visual media creator, sound design should always be at the forefront of your creative process to ensure your media connects, delivers and inspires.