Have you ever listened to a song that you’ve not heard for years, but the second it came on, it took you back to a very specific moment? I’m almost certain the answer to this question is yes. Researchers studying the human brain have found a link between the senses and memory. In short, the way our brains are wired means that, as humans, we are susceptible to recall messages through things such as smell and sound. As I’m sure you can imagine, many brands looking to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors have looked into this research and found that sensory branding can be a massive help them, too.
This is where sensory branding comes in. So, what exactly is sensory branding? If you’ve ever stepped foot inside an Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) store, you’ll have had a hit of sensory branding, perhaps without even realising it. The store is an assault on your senses, with A&F’s signature scent “Fierce” pumped through the store, as well as sprayed on all the clothing. If you know the scent, every time someone walks past you wearing it, it makes you think of their clothes. They wanted to ensure that their clientele were of a younger demographic, and after research found younger people could withstand and enjoy louder club music, they put this genre into their stores.
Many brands have realised that a multi sensory experience will help their marketing and, therefore, increase their sales. Don’t believe me, I bet you know the smell inside a “Subway” sandwich store. Whether this is a manufactured smell is the question of many conspiracy theorists, but either way, I’m sure you’ll know that smell. What about those brands that don’t have a tangible product? They use something called a “sonic brand”. Think those little microchips inside a PC made by Intel Inside – I bet you just made the sound in your head.
According to research commissioned by brand consultant Martin Lindstrom, media that appeals to more than three senses can increase brand impact and engagement by more than 70 per cent. Imagine your recall going up by this amount? So, how do you use this in your advertising and promotions? Think of the five senses and how you can engage with the customer. Visual is a given, but now think about how you could incorporate touch into your advertising and marketing? A change of paper stock, a different type of paper, a special glossy finish. The perfume and aftershave brands have this made, as they have either a sample attached or a peel-back containing their scent, which offers audio, visual and touch. Events are a great place to incorporate multi-sensory branding, and a few years ago one of the major pharmaceutical clients in our industry used this to great effect. Clearly, to build a brand takes a lot of time and effort, and if you are going to look into sensory branding, it can’t be something that is activated just the once; as with any branding, it needs repetition and consistency.
Next time you walk down the street and you smell the Subway bread scent, hopefully you’ll think of this blog post. Oh, by the way, I’m almost certain their smell is manufactured.