Apr 3, 2015

Building a Multi-Sensory Brand


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Today’s consumers are exposed to monumental amounts of media, messaging, and advertising. Words and visuals have their limits. Brands that build a multi-sensory experience can cut through the clutter and communicate more meaning.

1. Look under the hood. Before investing in multi-sensory, take stock. What traditional assets are really working for you? Conduct an audit across everything—media library, visual identity system, product photography, videos, music, and collateral. Do your assets work as standard communication? We hope so. Now, ask—could they work even better layered with sound, touch, or scent?

2. Compose a hit. Sound is a powerful way to win hearts and minds. Deeply personal and universal. Resonant—both literally and figuratively. Even a few unique notes can be a brand asset worth billions—think of the Intel chime. Let’s look closer at the retail environment. Music and sound can increase comfort and willingness to linger. And it can improve the overall customer experience. But don’t force it. Pay attention to volume, it matters. ‘Very loud’ physical environments with decibel levels above 85 can be agitating and cue a hectic and disorganized experience. Overly quiet environments can be off putting, too. For instance, a large warehouse with less than 30 dBs can feel stifling and overly intimate. Find a happy medium. And play your brand like an instrument.

3. Speak the language of scent. In our always on world, sensory overload happens. Sometimes you need to tap other senses to be “heard.” Scent can reduce cognitive load—priming and refreshing for receptivity. Some notable brands develop their own unique scent language, giving them a unique communication vehicle. The ‘warm towel’ scent from Singapore or Thompson hotel’s ‘upscale leather’ are synonymous with their brands. Scent is directly linked to ‘air quality’. This means scent can improve the perception of air quality and, thus, enjoyment of an experience. This doesn’t mean dowse a room with scent. No two people smell odor the same way. So using light-to-neutral and natural scents (like lavender and cotton), used sparingly and strategically, can convey a clean and fresh character that calms and recharges.

Brands that master all forms of communication—including multi-sensory—have more meaningful ways to reach consumers.

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