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Too many brand companies place all their bets on the visual and auditory senses and risk being lost in the roar of the market. Examples like Ikea, Singapore Airlines, and Lush show us why multi-sensual brand management is better. Image source: ©ulkas - fotolia.com Fotolia Fotolia

Brands need the power of all five senses


Too many brand companies place all their bets on the visual and auditory senses and risk being lost in the roar of the market. Examples like Ikea, Singapore Airlines, and Lush show us why multi-sensual brand management is better.

Foregoing multi-sensual brand management is a mistake, because according to studies, 75% of all brands that communicate via multiple senses are strong, they are “Power Brands”.


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International competition, interchangeable products and services – these are great challenges companies face in displacement markets. To be noticed at all and to convince, however, most only use few senses, primary the visual or auditory. It follows that there is a large risk of these brands drowning in the flood of information, that their differentiation from the competition fails, or that they are not recognizable, which in turn impacts sales and long-term business success.

Successful brand perception through visual presentation of peak performances remains the exception – for example, we recognize Ikea instantly by the way the furniture is displayed. With Darbo, it is the backgrounds in natural colors and the actors' unusual costumes – you know right away who is addressing you.

The lion's share of brands, however, fails at this. Why? Because their communication concentrates on the visual approach with campaigns, catalogues, posters, and other print media. In the excess of visual messages, consumers hardly notice these brands at all. Their messages are lost in this chaos of visual and auditory stimulation. Customers just filter them out.

This is what usually goes wrong:

  • Companies create a superficial perception – rather than a profound and differentiating one.
  • They create only a short-term "disturbance" – not a lasting memory.
  • The brand is perceived visually and perhaps acoustically – but not with all the senses.
  • The plentiful options for stimulating the senses are not used, which makes the brand messages interchangeable and they get lost in the flood of information.

Multi-sensuality – an advantage in the battle for attention
More and more marketers and top managers are turning their branding and advertising concepts upside down and are looking for answers to the question: How can we make our brand unmistakable beyond visual or auditory stimuli, and at the same achieve more attraction and differentiation by better presenting our peak performances?
Do you know Lush? Or Singapore Airlines? Or the world's first bank with a multi-sensual branch concept, the Helm Bank in Columbia? It has developed the world's first concept for branch offices that appeals to all five senses. In 18 months, this increased its brand awareness by 100%, the number of customers by 25%, and customer satisfaction went from 92% to 98%.
Singapore Airlines also activates all the senses, and the stimuli are uniform and harmonize well with one another. Starting with the famous Singapore Girl – the flight attendants with very similar figures, identical clothing worldwide, and identical make-up – to coordinated fragrance and aroma elements like the crew's perfume, the scent of the hot towels, or the aroma in the cabin ventilation.
These companies successfully make their brands peak performances perceptible with all the senses at all touchpoints, offering a more intense experience that sets them apart and remains locked in the consumer's memory.

Strong brands play the value game, not the price game
Such brands are pioneers, not copy cats. They know their own peak performances and present their values multi-sensually, to gain appreciation and thus create more added value.
Those brands who successfully strengthen their positive preconceptions by addressing several senses draw the attention of customers amid the overabundance. They attract and remain in their memory.
This positive differentiation through the product or the service alone, however, is wishful thinking in most markets. The chain Lush, for instance, presents its products before you can see them, hear, them, or feel them: Their scent alone lures customers into the shop, where they have further multi-sensual brand experiences and ultimately pay 8.00 € for one bath ball. The customer feels this brand experience is worth the extra money (price premium) over the individual product. Strong brands, then, play the value game – not the price game. They generate the essential appreciation by addressing all the senses with their messages.
Another power brand that knows how to thrill all the senses is Red Bull. The Red Bull restaurant Ikarus in Hangar 7 is a meeting point for connoisseurs and lets all gourmets experience the brand. For those who want to experience Red Bull acoustically, there is the "Air Race" on Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. And if you can't make it there, you can get the Red Bull drink instead – because it gives you wings, as we know from the TV spots. The brand addresses several senses with its values and thereby attracts the right customers.

Swarovski, Nivea, and Ikea show us how it's done

Swarovski, Nivea, Ikea – these brands offer a multi-sensual experience at their most important touchpoints, one that shows the customer their peak performances. Think about what Ikea tastes like – like "Köttbullar", the Swedish national dish. Ikea stimulates all the senses in its furniture stores and creates a lasting brand experience that attracts and differentiates. It is how Ikea gets its brand message across particularly clearly. This contributes to the brand and ultimately leads to increased brand attractiveness, which in turn positively impacts willingness to buy and pay a price premium.

But to date, few brands impart their value through several senses – less than 3% of Fortune 1,000 companies deal with the sense of smell in their brand communication.

Foregoing multi-sensual brand management is a mistake, because according to studies, 75% of all brands that communicate via multiple senses are strong, they are "Power Brands". Brand loyalty reaches 60% then the customer perceives four to five different sensual stimuli, because simultaneous stimuli are processed up to ten times more intensely by the brain. This significantly increases memory and recognition – and with it differentiation from the competition.

What other advantages does multi-sensual brand management bring?

  • Empty playing field: You offer a largely unknown kind of holistic brand perception, which sets you apart from the competition.
  • More attention: You gain attention more quickly, because your brand penetrates customers' perception through several senses.
  • Stronger identification: You evoke more intense emotions and stir memories that make the customer identify more strongly with your brand.
  • Efficient interplay: You need less communicative conviction and at the same time achieve stronger perception.
  • Diversity of presentation: You don't depend on one visual or auditory presentation, but can chose among several measures.
  • Added value: You complement the common user benefit with a high immaterial value, which increases your brand's desirability and attractiveness.

Turn your key touchpoints into multi-sensual "Points of Experience"; offer consumers a place full of unmistakable, memorable brand experiences. That way, consumers will remember you vividly despite acute overstimulation. This perception is the perfect basis for the necessary success stages of your brand: value creation, value presentation, appreciation, and finally added value.


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