UnCommon Sense: The Sensory Branding Economy

CB Barthlow, Director of Development – Shop Marketing & Creative Group

If you’ve ever walked into a high-end hotel, perhaps you’ve noticed a distinct smell. That’s not an accident, it’s an intentional effort by the hotel to get your attention.

There is a famous hotel in Dallas whose lobby is well scented with a signature smell. Most people probably don’t even notice it, I never did, until my wife, as it turns out, is completely allergic. Within seconds, she was sneezing and wheezing and we realized that something had shifted in our environment. We asked the front desk about the smell and whether it was just in the lobby and the clerk told us, “no, that’s our signature smell, everything has that scent.” Needless to say, we couldn’t stay in that hotel anymore. It got me thinking about the ways in which brands activate our senses to further advance their identity.

Many brands the world over are experimenting with something called sensory branding. That is developing a unique portfolio of sense specific brand identities, so consumers can recognize the brand subconsciously. I’d like to show you three ways brands are doing this:

Olfactive Branding: Much like the hotel I mentioned above, many other brands are finding that creating and then owning a unique smell helps them to further their brand identity. Olfactive branding company 12.29 helps brands develop their unique scent and deploy it in retail and event settings. Learn more about their clients and their scents here.

Audio Branding: You know about brand and commercial jingles, but you may not know that some brands work with companies like France based Sixieme Son. They work with their clients to not only create a signature song or sound, but an entire palette of auditory branding pieces that capture consumer attention and help the brand standout. Hear the work they did for Huggies here.

Color Branding: We all know that visual branding is powerful. Logos and typography can evoke strong emotions in consumers for both new and established brands. But Color, some would argue, is an even more powerful driving emotional force and one many brands have become aware of. Consider the almost two year effort of Cheerios to patent the yellow color used on their boxes. They’ve recently lost this case again, but other brands have been very successful in owning a color altogether. Here are 15 companies who have patented their own brand colors.

The Sensory Revolution is upon us  and savvy brands are exploring more ways to reach the consumer brain through their sense than ever before. It may be time, your brand did the same.