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Bombarding my senses

Multi Sensory Branding is a huge winner for Brand Recognition’

Branding is becoming more sophisticated - it’s not just about sexy colours and shapes any more, or about smiling nicely, watching your social networks and building a meaningful connection with your customers, it’s not even about using big data to map out trends and be one step ahead of the game. All of this has to be engrained in your brand and organisational culture. It’s ubiquitous... The latest trend to make the mainstream in branding in called Multi-Sensory Branding... what on earth is that I hear you ask?.. well it’s just about everything that traditional branding isn’t.

For years now, we have known that the power of a scent can be an incredible recall - the smell of a particular food for example can even take this hardened Brand guy right back to his child-hood, the smell of a particular perfume can remind you of your first girlfriend, a holiday or a special occasion. Add to that touch - how many times have you said that feels like... or that sounds like... and you have a potent experiential tool that brand builders are using to ensure their brands are top of mind - always.

Research has shown that the olfactory nerve which is located very close to the amygdala, the area of the brain is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. The actual ability to smell is highly linked to memory. In order to identify a scent, you must remember when you have smelled it before and then connect it to visual information that occurred at the same time. According to some research, studying information in the presence of an odor actually increases the vividness and intensity of that remembered information when you smell that odor again.

Brand builders are using this to trigger powerful re-call and recognition - This is multi-sensory branding... and companies in the region are waking up to the power of using sense to create brand awareness. Emaar, the mega developer who are headquartered in Dubai, have recently introduced a brand scent in their buildings - it is distinctive and although I could not describe it to you now, I would know it if I smelt it. What a wonderful way of creating brand recall?

Hollister, the super cool clothing retailer do a similar thing, enter their temple to consumerism in the malls here and you are greeted to a sensory overload, the smell, the sound of the ocean, the creak of a floorboard, all of which are designed to make your experience of the Hollister brand multi-dimensional - Carrefour it is not!

In 2006, the California Milk Board used scent in its Got Milk? advertising campaign, incorporating a cookie scent into five bus shelter installations in San Francisco. The theory was that consumers would smell the scent of cookies, associate the scent with milk, and crave a glass of dairy.

Companies choose music congruent with their brand identity. Abercrombie and Fitch uses loud upbeat music with a heavy bass and eliminates gaps between tracks, creating a youthful nightclub-like atmosphere in its teen-focused clothing shops. Victoria’s Secret, on the other hand, plays classical music to evoke a sense of upscale exclusivity for its brand.

Stop and imagine for a moment the sound of a McDonald’s... and, now the sound of a Starbucks. We have distinct sound expectations for these environments.

Starbucks has made a careful study of its sound; its cafes combine a carefully selected playlist with the quiet whoosh of steaming milk, bean grinders and clicking dishes to create the ‘Sound of Starbucks.’

Now consider a McDonalds.

In Martin Lindstrom’s Brand Sense study, a quarter of those affected by noise in restaurants said McDonald’s gave them a negative feeling, associating the fast food behemoth with the sound of screaming kids and the pinging of the fry oil timer.

Perhaps McDonald’s is trying to combat that impression by offering large glass-walled (sound muffling) play rooms with plenty of dining space for patrons with children. By segregating the noise of playing children, McDonald’s can enhance its brand and appeal to a wider, older demographic.

Now, imagine what would happen to the ambience if Starbucks chose to change any of its delivery methods—paper plates and plastic forks for the bakery, for example, or automatic coffee machines that eliminated the need for steam-frothed milk. Customers would not only see and feel the changes, they would hear them. The ambience would be perceptively changed and incongruent with the brand’s upscale image.

Companies who create mulit-sensory brand experiences spend time and effort selecting the right note, the right tone and the right feel to match their brand values - it is skilled work, but it has a profound impact on business.

Multi-sensory branding goes one step beyond purely creating a sound, a smell or a feel for a brand, scent and sound can be used to control the mood in an environment - for example, create a note that is strong in lavender and it will create a calming environment, use citrus and it will create a more active fast paced mood. Companies are using the power of the senses to in crowded environments like banks and airports to control the flow of customers - without them even realising it. Brilliant!.. and what’s more great business.

Companies who reach their clients on an emotional level are most likely to succeed, and mulit-sensory branding helps them to stand out from the competition. It is a way to relate to your customer in a more personal way than with traditional techniques.

Martin Lindstrom found that when customers are engaged by two or more senses, brand impact increases by 30% and by a whopping 70% when three senses are integrated into the brand message. This helps explain why brand builders should pay attention to sight, sound and smell in order to maximise their brand impact and success.

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