The Rise of Sensory Branding Is Music to Our Ears (and Noses and Tongues)
What does your brand sound like? Smell like? Taste like? Breaking traditional boundaries, brands are now incorporating signature smells, tastes, textures, and sounds.
When Mastercard’s Chief Marketing Officer Raja Rajamannar recently reflected on the current state of branding and marketing, he provided our industry with this gem of a perspective:
“We’re in marketing 5.0, it’s the era of sense and sensibility. The next phase for marketers is bringing the human back into human interactions and understanding the sensibilities of human beings – not just interests and desires, but the finer subtle elements of individuals. Moving your brand and its boundaries is the only way to connect with consumers in a compelling and impactful way.”
That is exactly what Rajamannar and his teams have been doing recently. The momentum started with sound.
In February 2014, Harvard Business Review asked: What does your brand sound like? They wrote that “to gain advantage on this leveled playing field, there’s one powerful branding tool that has been generally overlooked – or perhaps undervalued – by most marketers: sound.” This sonic identity may be as important as a visual brand identity, especially as consumers shift habits away from traditional search engines and toward virtual assistants and voice searches.
Driven by new thought leadership, programs such as The International Sound Awards, funky buzzwords like earcons and identitones, the phenomenal rise of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), and the mass adoption of audio assistants, a new sonic branding industry has boomed.
New Take on Mixtapes
Beyond just their identity, brands are focusing on how they design sound across their customer experiences.
On the consumer front, Bacardi’s “Sound of Rum” campaign went around the world to capture clinking bottles, shaking ice, and cocktails being poured. The resulting ASMR-inspired soundtrack was mixed by global superstar artist Swizz Beatz.
In early 2019, HSBC worked with composer Jean-Michel Jarre to develop “a bespoke piece of music that will help people instantly recognize the bank.” The result was seven tracks that ranged from the uplifting Orchestral to the pumped-up Stadium to the electronic and soothing Mindfulness, which would be used as hold music to calm frustrated customers.
Not to be left behind, Mastercard is working with artists from around the world to launch its first album in March 2020.
The Next Branding Frontiers
While sound has the momentum, brands are focused on our other senses as well. Scent branding is receiving recent buzz and experimentation. Companies including cruise lines, grocery stores, and even gas stations use scent to encourage customers to buy more, and the Hyatt Place hotel chain employs a signature scent as part of their brand standards that is designed to enhance brand perceptions.
But why stop at scent? In September 2019, Mastercard continued to capture the marketing world’s attention when it released its new “brand taste,” custard apple and Japanese yuzu.
Across all of these examples, the businesses have placed heavy emphasis on the brilliance of branding metaphors. Mastercard’s yellow macaron is meant to signify optimism, and the red macaron represents passion – analogies for the company’s efforts to make the world a better place and for its commitment to help people get closer to what they love.
For us, as event professionals and experiential marketers, we’re excited about these relatively unexplored avenues for branding. And we’re looking forward to seeing how using sensory branding to create an experience will extend into the event industry and beyond.
Read more about what’s hot in the experiential and event industry in Brent’s recent posts.
More Like This, Delivered to You
As our agency continues to explore the future of experiences, you can join us and leaders from Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and many more of our clients to stay ahead of what’s next by subscribing to XO. Each month, you’ll receive our latest insights and perspectives, plus carefully curated links worthy of your next new tab.
Emerging Engagement Trends in November 2023
Engagement Trends November 2023
Emerging Engagement Trends in November 2023
Fortifying Event Contingency Plans to Catalyze Innovation
Modern Contingency Planning
Opus Agency’s Guide to Modern Contingency Planning
XO is a newsletter with a mission to be loved by marketing executives and event professionals.
Through careful curation and purposeful prose, XO serves thousands of leaders who want to stay on top of what’s new and what’s next in the world of experiences.
To join in, see past issues or subscribe below.