In branding and marketing, we often focus on the visual aspects of a product, service or organization. Does it look professional? Is it consistent? Does it convey the qualities of the brand? As it turns out, there is much more going on in our heads when we make buying decisions, and simply having a great logo or packaging is not enough.
There’s good reason for focusing on the visual aspects of a brand. We are surrounded by and consumed with visual media. An article in the Wall Street Journal highlights studies in which people made snap judgments about whether or not they liked a piece of artwork (based on visuals alone) in 200-330 milliseconds—as quick as a photoflash. According to other studies, Americans spend 45% of their waking time in front of a screen (TV, smart phone, tablet or computer), yet we can recall only 8% of the messages we see.
Studies have shown that more than any other sense, smell is the one that most connects with consumers. There is a reason why grocery stores put bakeries near the front of the store and Walt Disney pumps cinnamon into the ventilation system as you wait in line … it increases your appetite so you buy more. The smell of money, particularly the U.S. Dollar, is so emotionally powerful that perfume makers have been trying to replicate it for years—with one German perfume expert coming very close to achieving this goal. Smell is so powerful because it is connected to our memories: Do you remember that “new car smell” when you first bought your car? The smell of your significant other’s shampooed hair? The way your house smells (and believe me, it does)?
While visuals are important to marketing your brand (and shouldn’t be neglected), appealing to other senses should be considered. Taking into account the more powerful senses of smell and taste, as well as touch and sound, can form stronger emotional connections with your customers. There truly is more to marketing than meets the eye.