Multi-sensory brand experiences

The first task in any kind of marketing is to engage the senses. Even the crudest mass-marketing techniques must first attract the eyes or ears in order to deliver their message. This first contact with a consumer resonates in all their interactions - like they say, first impressions really do count. 

The media at our disposal dictates the way we communicate; such that mass marketing is largely confined to visual and audio content. We’re now at the point of sensory overload in our daily lives and in one day the eyes and ears of the average Londoner are likely to encounter around 5,000 marketing messages.

You’ve most likely spent time, money and a great deal of consideration developing the logo that speaks of your brand, encapsulating just the right message for your target audience. You’ll have taken into account what the colours say about your offering and considered the way in which certain images conjure the right associations. If you advertise via TV, online or radio a similar amount of resource will have been devoted to composing just the right soundscape. A number of big brands have taken the obvious next step, extending their ownable elements to include a recognisable ‘scent logo’.

The Sense of Smell Institute found that while visual recall of images is about 50% after three months, smells are remembered with 65% accuracy, even after a year.

Smell is our most powerful direct line to memory. The olfactory bulb – the part of your brain responsible for the process of smell - is embedded in the brain’s limbic system: the seat of emotional processing. Memories from as far back as childhood are often experienced with startling proximity if triggered by smell. Big brands know that scent is a powerful ally when crafting a memorable interaction. Abercrombie use their scent ‘Fierce’ in store to inspire purchase and Nike, taking the practice one step further use scent to direct customers to the more expensive lines. The attendants on Singapore airlines wear the brand’s signature scent to further reinforce the atmosphere of calm efficiency wafting around its aisles.

When you’re selling an experience, scent profile is a big deal.  In 2008, Starbucks announced it would stop selling breakfast sandwiches, because the smell of cooking was interfering with its trademark high quality coffee aroma, which was linked to a dip in sales. (They brought back the toasty, but not before its cooking methods and recipe had been refined to produce fewer odours.)

It’s the same principle that drives multi-sensory marketing – a highly impactful experiential technique that’s been gaining momentum in recent years. We’re not just talking about product sampling. Allowing consumers to touch and taste your product is the very least of it – and cold comfort if you’re e.g. a car brand. Micro-marketing scenarios allow brands to extend their sensorial reach much further; intensifying the experience for a smaller number of targeted consumers and solidifying that all-important link to memory.

Some of our favourite examples...

Over 12 million fans have experienced Diageo’s Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. After learning to pull the perfect pint of Guinness, and the art of beer-based cookery, visitors to the Tasting Rooms inhale vapours with key elements of the beer’s formula, to awaken the sense of smell before tasting commences. It’s the brainchild of food architects Bompas and Parr, known for their extraordinary environmental enhancements to taste perception. For the launch of Heinz Flavoured Beanz, the studio designed bowls with colours and textures appropriate to each new flavour. Musical spoons (yes really) played specially selected music on contact with the mouth.

At iD we’re all about the originality, imagination and skill it takes to create a truly unforgettable multi-sensory experience. Look no further than our own Comfort Intense Garden project. Get in touch to find out how we can help your brand captivate the senses, and connect with your audience on another level.