This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 14, 2012

Marketing's Next Frontier: Sensory Branding

For decades now, marketers have used jingles and even aromatherapy to sell products. A few years ago, Microsoft cared so much that the sensory brand for its new operating system be appropriate, they paid King Crimson's Robert Fripp to compose the tones.

We often talk about the value of integrated marketing, making sure that all of the elements of the marketing plan are aligned and congruent with each other. Moreover, we have always talked about the necessity of internal (employer/employee) and external (product/company) brands matching.

Writing for the website BUSINESS 2 COMMUNITY, Steve McKee contends that integrated branding extends the concept beyond simple promotion to include the other Ps of marketing: pricing, place, and product expression. Few marketers have achieved this high level of brand consistency; however, some great examples are the Apple Store, Target, Starbucks, and Nike.

However, now there is a new piece of this puzzle: "Integrated Sensory Branding"---branding that touches all of the senses. McKee defines Sensory Branding as "integrating a brand across all five forms of contact consumers may have with a product or company---sight, sound, feel, taste, and smell".

Journalist Ellen Byron writing in the "Wall Street Journal" recently focused on the use of "sounds that sell". Audio is just one aspect of Sensory Branding and a number of companies are exploring branding products by sound. Whether it is the click of Clinique's $19.50 mascara tube, as it locks in place or the feel of a Mercedes Benz seat as you slide into it, sensory branding is here to stay. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. uses the "Snapple Pop" that a consumer hears when opening the top of a bottle of Snapple to reinforce the freshness of the product.

Marketers have only begun to explore the value of sensory branding. These experiential product links help to bond consumers with brands by reinforcing in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, that the marketer cares about the consumer. We may expect to see a wide variety of different types of sensory branding, including a significant foray into using the olfactory stimuli (smells). As we move into the future, more and more marketers will embrace the value of experiential bonding with consumers in all kinds of ways.

For McKee's full article, visit

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