Sensory Branding : The New Mantra of Marketing

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on February 16, 2015

They say you recognise your brand through their pictures or logos, but is that what branding is all about? As Led Zeppelin tries to give the message through his very famous song “Senses taking over, thought to set me free... I tried to get up but it kept pouring on me “. Quite apt lines I believe if we seek to acknowledge the impact that senses have on our mind. And rightly so many of the companies have recognised that the impetus they can give to their businesses as well as overall growth of the company per se. This brings into picture a holistic way of marketing wherein the companies try to employ various stimuli such as creative pictures, sounds etc. to build emotional connections with the customers.


Branding as such is a broad concept itself, the strategies being multifarious. You have product umbrella branding, corporate umbrella branding, co-branding etc. Sensory branding is something which has emerged as a new and altogether different strategy over the past few years and is still evolving. Sensory Branding comprises of branding by targeting any of the five senses i.e, touch, taste, smell, sound and sight to create an association of the product with the customer.

So what has led companies to think on this tangent? Quite obviously if one will analyse the reasons, companies are facing saturation after a period of time in the market while other competitors come up with superior or advanced features and utilities. This somehow creates a pressure on the existing players to survive. And in such a situation this is one way they can put a tap on their diminishing returns which they face as they try to sell product or service features alone. As people have nowadays become more brand conscious the companies should always be looking forward to always create a good brand image rather than just coming up with a product or service alone. As down the line all that matters whether the product or service has any distinction or differential advantage over the competitor’s product or service. Also studies over the years have proved it that there is a strong tie between non-visual sensory stimuli and human behaviour. That’s why the companies are trying to bank upon sensory branding in such a way that it directly influences the consumer’s mind and creates a better connect with them. This also makes brand recall easy. A befitting example would be the unique ringtones that is used by the mobile phone companies like Nokia, Samsung etc. so that the customer instantly recognises the tune and connects with the brand.


Nowadays, companies are using multi-sensory branding where they target more than one senses through their promotions. A good example of this would be Vodafone ZooZoo ads which had everything in its campaign right from ZooZoo t-shirts, ZooZoo wallpapers to ZooZoo ringtones and videos. So this helped customers to better connect with Vodafone as a brand thereby increasing the brand loyalty and sales of the company.


The real big task for companies is to how to go about sensory branding. It needs a huge effort to assess all the elements involved which will best suit an ad campaign or a promotion. All the options are weighed down and the best combination is chosen which will suit an overall branding initiative and should not be overlooking all the critical touch points. This involves a tremendous amount of customization as a minute error may cause a huge damage to the reputation of the company.


The big question now is where lies the problem? The common mistake that may happen is if the message conveyed is not effective enough. This happens generally when there incongruity between the targeted sensory organs. For example is light and sound is used for communication, it may happen so that the sensory branding is not properly used and thus can create a huge confusion in the minds of the customers. This may hamper the growth of the company in terms of sales. So this branding technique should be carefully and mindfully used rather than just aiming to seek benefits out of it. An emotional connection has to be there if at all the promotion has to be turned into an effective one.


There are pros and cons to every branding strategy. The paramount importance that sensory branding is given in today’s times is all because of the flexibility it brings to the table. As you can intermix any sense organs and create an effective promotional campaign out of it. The onus though lies on the brand managers as to how effectively they design such promotional activity so that the results are resounding and far-fetching. Also how they learn from their past mistakes, as the saying goes “the learning from failures is much more than from successes”.

This article has been authored by Ramesh Pradhan from SIMS Pune 


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