Music Brand Experience - Part 1

  • Melissa Svensen
Recently, The New York Times posted an article about Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has swiftly become our new experience design hero. When the unconsidered music in his favourite restaurant (Kajitsu, New York) became too much of a dampener on his experience there, the musician and composer asked if he could create a new playlist for them himself – in order to make the experience more enriching and cohesive. And so he did – and since then Mr. Sakamoto has become chief playlister for Kajitsu. 
 The story got us thinking about our local eateries, and how their music informs our experiences. While we haven’t got the carefully trained composer’s ear that he does, and certainly couldn’t walk in and demand everyone let us choose their playlists, we can dream. And we can at least consider what we think of the choices.
Abokado: Music style: Jazz General Appeal: 3/10 Appropriateness for Venue: 4/10 Our Suggestion: As Ryuichi says “Playing jazz in restaurants is too stereotypical.” It’s the wrong type of chilled out – forced chill. Especially for sushi, it needs to be actually relaxing – something instrumental, so it’s not imposing, but still adds something so it’s not completely redundant. 
Starbucks: Music style: Jazz, again. General Appeal: 5/10 Appropriateness for Venue: 6/10 Our Suggestion: I never really like Jazz, but for some reason, it worked better in Starbucks than in Abokado – it was just a bit noisy. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend anything different, it just needs to be turned down a little bit.
Nando’s: Music style: World music General Appeal: 10/10           Appropriateness for Venue: 10/10 Our Suggestion: Change absolutely nothing. Nando’s clearly put a massive effort into making music a part of their brand experience, to the point where they’ve launched a music exchange, a studio and have stages at festivals. But it all boils down to whether it works in their restaurants, and it does. It’s fun, but never intrusive – what they call ‘fiery beats’ acting as the ideal accompaniment to the food. They know what they’re doing.
Pret A Manger: Music style: ‘Depressed hipster’ General Appeal: 2/10 Appropriateness for Venue: This one was trickier to score. The music’s bad, but they may be perfectly appealing to their target market. Our Suggestions: Just cheer it up a little bit. Pret’s definitely a go-to for lunch breaks and the last thing you want halfway through a day at work is to be brought down by some miserable tunes.
Perhaps we’re overly harsh, but it seems very little thought is put into the music that plays in the eateries near us. Of course, the issue of questionable music choices isn’t exclusive to food outlets – I’m sure we’ve all stood in Topshop, struggling to think straight and damning whoever thought it was a good idea to put a DJ in the middle of the store on an already noisy Saturday afternoon.
What about our own music here at Rufus? How does the music we play in the office affect our staff and clients? Do they even take any notice of it? Like all good designers, we decided to do some research to find out. In our next post, we share what we discovered, including the two faces of EDM (controversial) and why some people really don’t like ABBA.


  • Rufus Leonard logo

    Rufus Leonard

    • Design