Rooted in his innate passion for music, HOMONYM PH’s CEO, Mike Constantino, envisioned the innovative potential of sound and how it can be a powerful tool for financial success in any business.
The Financial Power of Sound
If you’ve ever considered promoting your brand through music, you might want to look into the marketing strategy called Sonic Branding or Music Marketing. It involves creating audio elements such as jingles, sound effects, or melodies that people can associate with your company, product, or service.
Brands showcasing their own sonic identity create faster and stronger connections with their consumers because music has a unique ability to engage consumers on an emotional level. Studies have also proven that auditory senses have a faster reaction time than visual senses, which can lead to better brand recall, consumer engagement, and, ultimately, higher sales and profitability.
The Evolution of a Musical Entrepreneur
One visionary who recognized the vast financial potential of sonic branding is Mike Constantino.
Even before becoming an entrepreneur, Mike Constantino grew up in an environment rich in music, where his mother was a Bayanihan dancer and his father was a music-loving crooner. Surrounded by art and artists, it was only natural that he would follow suit throughout grade school and high school. But it was during college at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) that his musical awakening truly blossomed.
Mike co-founded the Ateneo Musicians’ Pool and set the stage for his future in music. He and some friends formed a band called ReVerse and started earning money through gigs while pursuing his college degree.
After graduating college, Mike continued to pursue his music career and steadily balanced it with his day job. “So I've had an advertising, marketing, branding, sales, and digital career ever since. But I would always still have a band, or I would be DJing, playing my music on the side at night and during the weekends,” he says.
With the help of his experiences in the industry and legendary mentors, Mike gradually honed his entrepreneurial skills: “The great Gigi Garcia of Ace/Saatchi, my idols and co-directors at IMMAP (now, DMAP). Sa ABS-CBN, notable sina Meckoy Quiogue, Law Tan, Nic Gabunada, Pam Castillo, Billy Ick. Tinuruan nila kami doon about budgets and the business side of the entertainment and music industries.”
He then drew inspiration from his inherent passion for music and his experiences in the marketing and advertising industry to innovate and offer sonic branding and music marketing in the Philippines.
In 2016, he and his wife, Christel, founded HOMONYM PH.
At the heart of their creative process is sonic ideation: “Once we figure out what the soul of the brand is, we use a lot of music psychology, music theory, research and science, and then we match that with the brand essence to come up with some initial sounds that we feel the brand should sound like.”
This ideation phase serves as the groundwork for the brand's sonic identity, which includes sounds that connect with both the brand and its target market. This sound can be used in many ways, such as in advertisements or when talking to customer service.
While sonic branding is a unique venture, like many businesses, HOMONYM PH has had its own set of financial challenges.
Financial Strategies for Resilience and Growth
The year 2020 was a challenging period for businesses worldwide, and the music industry was no exception.
Mike had to make personal sacrifices to keep the company afloat. "We still don't know how we survived the pandemic," he reminisces. Being independent entrepreneurs with no external investors or multinational ties, they were on their own.
However, Mike and his wife proudly note that throughout the pandemic, they never delayed or reduced employee salaries. They showed resilience and commitment to their team and learned different financial strategies to sustain the business.
One major shift in their financial approach was restructuring their cash flow. During the pandemic, they realized the importance of allocating their funds into separate bank accounts to manage their finances, “Kasi alam namin dito papasok si personal, dito papasok si revenues for the business. Meron na kaming account for savings and for taxes. This was monumental for me, for our business.”
HOMONYM PH also had to shift to remote work to reduce their expenses. The funds for maintaining their physical office space were redirected towards sustaining and growing the business.
Despite the challenges, HOMONYM PH bounced back and reached a significant milestone through its partnership with a company in the finance industry. The company wanted to use sonic branding and a resulting song to capture their message of providing financial support as the country recovered from the pandemic.
Mike and his team at HOMONYM PH developed a now iconic sonic logo, produced the song for the brand with the notable singer Moira Dela Torre and expanded the brand’s soundscape across the brand’s touchpoints. The song, alongside the singer’s unique voice, created a sense of comfort that remained stuck in people’s minds and eventually set the company’s sonic identity.
“I think the project put us back on track. It just reminded us that sonic branding, music, and audio really have a place in the market,” Mike says.
By entrusting the agency with the brand's sonic identity, it showcased that music and sound could resonate with their audiences and drive brand engagement. “In the nine years prior, even pre-pandemic, and while we're all healing from a pandemic, they experienced their strongest December ever. They also experienced their strongest first and second quarter in 2023.”
The impact of the project also set HOMONYM PH towards further growth and expansion as they began exploring opportunities in international markets.
They formed a strategic partnership with "Sound Machine," a commercial background music company based in Barcelona, Spain. This partnership has allowed them to offer digital cloud-based In-store Music solutions, expanding their service offerings.
Aside from partnerships and expansions, HOMONYM PH also invested in revamping their website, enhancing SEO, and boosting their online presence. They are actively conducting free in-person/online workshops and talks to educate others on the significance of music and audio in marketing to eventually generate brand lift and sales.
Despite the challenges HOMONYM PH faced throughout the pandemic, Mike remains hopeful for the potential of in-store music and sonic branding in the Philippines and in showcasing Filipino talent in the global market, “Kasi tayo dito may puso, may soul. May kaluluwa yung work natin, and clients from other markets and cultures actually see that and feel that.”
Mastering the Financial Strategies of Sonic Branding in the Music Industry
To summarize, Mike Constantino's journey and HOMONYM PH's strategies offer actionable financial insights for entrepreneurs and business owners:
Diversify Revenue Streams: Constantly seek opportunities to diversify your sources of income. HOMONYM PH's focus and expansion into sonic branding, audio production, and in-store music services allowed them to manage financial challenges during the pandemic. Exploring new revenue streams can enhance your financial resilience.
Cash Flow Management: Maintain tight control over your cash flow, especially during challenging times. Establish separate bank accounts for personal and business finances to allocate resources effectively. A well-organized cash flow ensures that essential expenses are covered, employees are paid on time, and your business remains stable.
Adaptability is Key: Be ready to adapt and pivot when necessary. HOMONYM PH shifted its focus to in-store music services during the pandemic. Assess market conditions and be willing to adjust your business to meet customer needs.
Invest in Online Presence: A strong online presence can be a game-changer. Invest in website optimization, SEO, social media, and content marketing to boost your brand's visibility. An active online presence not only helps generate leads but also builds credibility in the digital age.
Build Strategic Partnerships: Collaborate with strategic partners who can complement your business. For HOMONYM PH, partnering with "Sound Machine" in Barcelona enhanced their in-store music service. Assess opportunities abroad and leverage your unique strengths to tap into new markets.
Building a Financially Sound Future in Sonic Branding
Mike’s journey as a musician and entrepreneur shows an impactful lesson to aspiring entrepreneurs in the music industry: “May pera sa musika.”
His journey proves that entrepreneurs can harness their passions, interests, and hobbies to explore the nooks and crannies of various industries and create innovative, impactful products or services.
In today's competitive market, where consumers are bombarded with visual advertisements and branding messages, sonic branding offers a way to cut through the noise. “We're making the experiences of the brands and the experiences of the customers better with sound. Music makes everything better.”
Brands themselves can also consider exploring how in-store music and sonic branding can serve as powerful tools to engage with consumers on a deeper level and ultimately lead to business growth.
For more insights, solutions, and resources for business owners, check out Sun Life PH’s SMEs Rising articles.
Shelton, J., & Kumar, G. P. (2010, January 1). Comparison between Auditory and Visual Simple Reaction Times. Neuroscience and Medicine. https://doi.org/10.4236/nm.2010.11004