Chapter Eight

Branding with the senses

Omni-sensory branding.

When that new car scent hits your nose, what runs through your head? What memories and emotions flood your brain?

How about when you taste bubblegum?
When you listen to birds chirping, what happens?
What about when you touch suede?
Lastly, when you look at the ocean, what’s happening inside your brain at that moment?

Omni-sensory branding is not a new concept. It’s been around for quite some time, but its usage has been underutilized.

Omni-sensory branding is a very in-depth subject, and to be honest; I am only scratching the surface right now. I am fascinated with Omni-sensory branding, and as I come across more research and information, I will update this chapter.

Disrupt behaviours.

The purpose of this chapter is to inform you of this marketing channel so that you can begin thinking about ways to incorporate the five senses into your brand experience. Disrupting assumptions behaviour to create a new memory that will forever be locked in your customer’s mind.

We have already established that memorable brands leave lasting impressions. As you look back on your life, there are plenty of lasting impressions created by your five senses. Memories, experiences, emotions get triggered when you smell, taste, touch, feel or hear something profound. Why not incorporate these types of visceral experiences into your automotive brand?

Those that do execute scent branding with precision record increased revenues, better buying experiences and increased customer happiness, to name a few.

Introducing Omni-sensory branding can also influence sales, customer interaction, the length of time a customer spends in your business, and customer satisfaction, to name a few.

It can be powerful when incorporated into your business. Done poorly, you can leave a lasting negative impression on someone. Done correctly, you will create a customer experience with your brand that leaves a lasting memory.

Here are some disruptional ideas to think about when it comes to Omni-sensory branding.

Scent branding.

Scent branding is big business, and many companies use this technique for their brands. Vegas Casinos are a big player in scent branding. Dental offices do it too.

Bakeries that smell like fresh bread all day?

Yup, they are pumping that wonderful smell at the entrance of their bakery. What does that do for you? It makes you hungry, right? Do you spend more than you usually do?

Scent Branding is a powerful tool that is underutilized in companies.
Those that do execute scent branding with precision record increased revenues, better buying experiences and increased customer happiness, to name a few.

Before you pick a scent, you need to decide what mood you want your customers to be in when they interact with your brand. Do you want them to be excited? Calm? Happy? Sombre? Nervous? Angry?

After you decide the mood, it’s time to talk scent.
There are millions of varieties of smells to choose from, and each one can determine your customer’s mood when they smell it for the first time.

You can use an existing scent or create your own.
There are pros and cons to each choice. Using an existing scent can trigger existing memories for customers, whereas a new scent can create new memories. BUT if you want to create a new memory, many other factors come into play. After a person smells your brand, what happens next? Are they greeted cheerfully? Do they have a great buying experience? Is every moment within that scent filling your customer with positive emotions?

Think of contrasting ways you can use scent in your company.
For instance, we all know the typical scent of a tire shop. Now, what if you entered a tire shop that smelled like bubble gum? What psychological experience would be created for that customer? What kind of impression do you think that would leave on them? Do you think they would remember you months from now?

Scent branding experiences can also be applied to online businesses.

Think about that moment when your customer opens their shipment. Can you bombard them with a personalized scent? How about keepsakes that are scent-based? Air fresheners with a customized scent, perhaps?

Taste branding.

This one might perplex you at first but stay with me for a moment. We all know restaurants are the epitome of taste branding. How can an automotive brand venture into taste branding?

Jesse James of West Coast Choppers just ventured into the coffee business. Gas Monkey Garage has tequila and energy drinks.

For a small business, the examples above are extreme circumstances that require a lot of capital and brand equity to attain. The purpose of mentioning these two examples is to show you that it is possible to incorporate taste branding into your automotive brand.

Executing taste branding
How do you want your brand to taste? Jesse James’s coffee represents his brand persona with accuracy. Look back at your brand persona for guidance on how to choose the right tastes for your brand. You can also reference your core values to get ideas.

You can play with taste in both directions. You can experiment with contrasting flavours that contradict your brand persona, or you can elevate your brand with flavours that compliment your brand. It’s truly up to you which way you want to go. As long as whatever you choose tastes good.

Where to get taste branding ideas
Engage with your local promotional item sales rep. They will have access to several edible products that you can personalize with your brand. Now understand that these will be generic and mass-produced. If you are looking for something customized, you may want to engage with local bakeries, restaurants, roasters, breweries or chocolatiers. Collaborating with local businesses that specialize in edibles could create a win-win scenario.

Sound branding.

Walk into your local coffee shop and listen to the music they play. What is the tempo? Did you know they use a specific beat of the music that makes people want to stay longer? When people visit longer, they buy more coffee and probably something to eat as well.

How about the on-hold music of a despised cable company? The music they play is calming for a reason. They are trying to deescalate your rage before you talk to someone.

Certain exhaust manufacturers have a distinct tone that you cannot replicate. Certain turbo/supercharger manufacturers also have sound branding in their company brand. Car audio, car alarms, and engine manufacturers also use sound branding to their advantage.

There are many types of sounds you can utilize.
Whether it’s custom music, speech or sound effects, like the examples above, you can capitalize on sound branding with a bit of creativity and planning. You will leave your customer with a lasting impression of your automotive brand.

Incorporating sound branding.
Think about your customer’s buying experience. Maybe you release social media content, interviews or promotional videos. All of these brand touchpoints can exploit sound branding.

What is the emotional state goal?
Do you want them to hang around your store for a certain amount of time? Or do you want them to leave quickly? Does your business often deal with customers in an elevated emotional state? Do you want them to be calm, excited or angry? Do you want to leave a lasting memory?

Answering these questions will help you determine what sounds you want to incorporate into your brand.

Touch branding.

There are two ways to look at touch branding. You have the emotional side and the physical side of touch branding. As you incorporate other senses into your brand, there is a valid argument that emotional (touch) branding is already created. For example, your customer’s satisfaction experience is emotional touch branding. So for this section of the Omni-sensory chapter, we will focus on physical touch branding.

Most automotive brands have tangible products, so you would think, “why should I even think about touch branding when my products fill that gap?” Well, let’s look deeper.

Can your company incorporate other touch branding opportunities beyond your goods sold? Can you create something that has contrasts your service in a way that disrupts the linear assumptions of your customers?

Contrasting the materials you sell.
Metal has a cold, stale touch. It is lifeless and often creates no emotional disruption. Unboxing rituals performed by buyers when they get new parts is a sensory explosion. It will wear off quickly. Using scent and a contrasting touch during this experience can disrupt the thought patterns of your buyer and create new, lasting memories. How can you contrast your products to create a memorable experience?

Tactile fabrics like suede, faux fur, or elastic and polymer materials are ways to experiment. Promotional items are an excellent place to start when looking at contrasting touch branding ideas. You can also look at packaging and paper for tactile experiences.

Sight branding.

Humans use sight more than any sense. In chapter twelve, I dive deep into visuals and how to create the correct perception for your automotive brand.

The compounding effects of Omni-sensory branding.

Smell, taste, sound, and tactile touch branding can have a compounding effect on your customer when added to your automotive brand. When done with thought and care, you can positively influence your audience. Approach these ideas cautiously. The realm of psychological marketing that Omni-sensory branding is situated is not to be executed with a lazy approach.

Chapter Nine

Your automotive brand touchpoints
Read Chapter Nine