In today’s highly competitive global environment, companies, on a constant basis, have to find new ways to position their brands in consumers’ mind. No amount of advertising and sales promotions can do any good if a brand does not confer a distinctive benefit. Brands need to be geared up to provide a complete package of functional, sensory and emotional experiences. Touching and triggering all the five senses of the consumers—touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste – creates a compelling brand experience. The more multi-sensory appeal that a brand has, the higher is the number of sensory triggers activated and resultantly, higher the bonding between the brand and the consumer.
Sensory branding attempts to foster a lasting emotional connect between the brand and the consumer, using a deliberate design and deployment of interaction with the senses. In brand communication, all the five senses need to be evoked to create optimum impact on the consumer.
Sensory branding was pioneered by the automobile industry. The industry made effective use of sound and smell at appropriate touch points to make an impact on prospective buyers. By the late 1990s, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler had departments that researched on the right kind of sound that the doors of the car should make, when potential buyers slam them hard. The prospect slams the door hard and the sound, thus, resulting gives him/her cues on the durability and solid engineering of the car. The sound enhances values, such as sturdiness, safety and trust of the brand. The car, thus, becomes a total concept from a form, touch and sound viewpoint. Smell is something that is not left to chance too. Rolls Royce has long recognizes the scent of new car as one of the most potent tools for cementing a love affair between the car and the new owner and takes utmost care to ensure that the smell emanating from a car is appropriate for a luxury car.
Several telecom companies have adopted signature music to help their target audience identify and connect with the company and its offerings. Airtel, has shared a long relation with A R Rahman, who composed the signature tune for it, which has become almost synonymous with the brand. The tune is one of the world’s most downloaded piece of mobile music, with over 60 million downloads.
Kellogg’s stand for crunchiness. If it is Kellogg’s, it has to be crunchy; otherwise it is considered unfit for consumption even if the taste is perfect. It is the sound of the crunch which we hear that is strongly behind the success of the brand. The crunch that we hear when the product is crushed between the teeth is more important than any other aspect of the commercial.
Procter & Gamble’s Tide detergent ad highlights the ‘mountain fresh’ feeling of: ‘the new spring Tide brings you the wild, refreshing fragrance’. Company to create a fresh sense of doing all aspects of efforts and achieved very good results, Tide laundry detergent sales in the United States has been among the best.
The coca-cola bottle exemplifies tactile branding. The shape of the bottle is so unique that it can be identified by merely holding it, even in the dark. “We need a bottle—a distinctive package that will help us fight substitutions…… we need a bottle, which a person will recognize as a Coca-Cola bottle even when he feels it in the dark. The bottle should be so shaped that, even if broken, a person can tell what it was….” . Wrote the company’s legal counsel. The bottle was nicknamed “the Hobble Skirt”. (Hobble skirt was long skirts tied together at the ankles). The bottle was a commercial success, so much so that it received a place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 1990, Singapore Airlines commissioned an aroma – Stefan Floridian Waters—to boost its corporate identity. The aroma becomes an integral element of branding at Singapore Airlines. The new branding tool was surprisingly an aroma comforting the olfactory senses of the passengers. The fragrance of Stefan Floridian Waters formed an important part of the total experience of the passengers and become a distinct trademark of Singapore Airlines.
In the context of retailing, the ambiance of the store, including background music, lighting and smell, are all ingredients of sensory branding. The ladies floor of Shoppers’ Stop or “W” has a special smell that attracts women, inducing them to spend more time and, hence, more money.
It is true that a brand cannot impart aroma via TV set or a newspaper. Nevertheless, there is nothing stopping an aroma from being fully integrated with the brand in other ways. The idea is to engage customers on a wide range of touch points to create an impactful brand.
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