When it comes to defining your brand, you want to create something that sticks. Yet many products and services seek only to advertise visually.
According to Martin Lindstrom, author of "Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind The Stuff We Buy," businesses can deliver the ultimate branding message by touching on as many senses as possible.
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“Brands have to be powered up to deliver a full sensory and emotional experience,” says Lindstrom. “It is not enough to present a product or service visually in an ad.”
Make an Emotional Appeal
Lindstrom believes that over the next decade, there will be major shifts in the way we perceive brands. As we’re seeing more with current mainstream brands, companies will need to start appealing to the emotions of customers.
Consider Wrigley 5 Gum brand, whose slogan is “Stimulate Your Senses.” Its commercials depict the pleasurable effects of chewing the gum. Even its website promotes interactivity with the consumer, taking them through a series of James Bond-esque webpages.
Lindstrom discusses how big brands are incorporating different senses into their branding techniques. Small businesses should also begin to re-think their own strategies to not only boost sales, but to prepare the company for success in the future world of advertising.
The sense of smell is a powerful tool, and can trigger emotions that aren’t exactly defined, but have a distinctive attachment to an object or place. Retailers like Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch are known for the scent that’s pumped throughout the store. Even the “new car” fragrance is sprayed into a vehicle using an aerosol can in the factory.
“Mitsubishi’s ad agency placed a fragrance ad in two major newspapers that stimulated that leathery ‘new car’ smell,” Lindstrom says. “The result: the company’s Lancer Evo X sold out in two weeks and the car company’s sales increased by 16 percent, even during a recession.”
Smell can also evoke memories. “Test results have shown a 40 percent improvement in our mood when we’re exposed to a pleasant fragrance—particularly if the fragrance taps into a joyful memory,” Lindstrom says.
The sense of sound is more easily conveyed, but can just as easily be done wrong in an advertising campaign. A sound can be a jingle, a unique voice, slogan, or familiar noise. But it isn’t enough to have a catchy tune associated with your business.
“Brands with music that ‘fit’ their brand identity are 96 percent likelier to prompt memory recall,” says Lindstrom. “Victoria’s Secret, for example, plays classical music in their stores, which creates an exclusive atmosphere and lends an air of prestige to the merchandise.”
The sense of taste is most easily conveyed in the food and beverage industry, but not every business takes advantage of it. According to Lindstrom, nearly 18 percent of the Fortune 1,000 companies could incorporate taste into their brands but have yet to explore this option.
The crunching noise made by Kellogg’s cereal isn’t one that comes naturally. The sound it makes was actually created in a laboratory.
“Kellogg’s considers the crunchiness of the grain as having everything to do with the triumph of the brand, which is why their TV ads emphasize the crunch we hear and feel in our mouths,” Lindstrom says.
This is the area where businesses selling products, especially household items, can really let the quality speak for itself. According to Lindstrom, 82 percent of all brands on the Fortune 1,000 list would be able to take advantage of texture if they were made aware of it.
One example of the power of touch is from the Asda supermarket chain in Britain, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart, which cut out a portion of the plastic wrap on toilet paper brands to allow shoppers to touch the tissue and compare textures.
“This has resulted in soaring sales for its home brand, and the decision by management to allot an additional 50 percent of shelf space to their product,” Lindstrom says.
In a study on the cell phone industry conducted by Lindstrom, he found that 35 percent of consumers stated that the way their cell phone feels is more important than the way it looks.
According to Geoff Crook, the head of sensory design research lab at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, “83 percent of the information people retain is received visually.”
For obvious reasons, sight is the most powerful tool. Before Coca-Cola began promoting Santa Claus in its signature color, red, he traditionally wore green.
Other ways to take advantage of sight is by shape. Consider perfume bottles. “Statistics show that 40 percent of all perfume purchase decisions are based on the design of the bottle,” Lindstrom says.
“Jean Paul-Gaultier has taken this notion all the way with Fragile, his perfume for women. Fragile comes in a brown cardboard box with the word ‘Fragile’ stamped on it in red. Inside the intriguing package is a magical snowball. Shake it up and a thousand golden flakes dance around a Fragile woman.”
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