Sensory Branding: Definition, Pros, Cons and Examples
Sensory Branding is marketing that appeals to all the senses in relation to a brand. Acting similarly to brand personality, sensory branding will forge emotional connections in consumers minds by lending appeal to their senses.
Written by RamotionOct 5, 202213 min read
Last updated: Sep 26, 2023
Defining Sensory Branding
Deploying a sensory approach will go a long way toward boosting your branding efforts. Appealing to consumers on an emotional level is a surefire way to create an attractive brand that resonates with your audience.
What is Sensory Branding?
Defining sensory branding is easy enough—it is a form of marketing designed to connect with customers through an appeal to the five senses humans possess—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
Ramotion is a branding design agency that understands the importance of providing customers with a sensory experience, and how the power of emotional branding forms deeper connections with customers.
Effective sensory branding can go deeper than appealing to simply our common senses. An example could be the controlling of in-store temperatures, or hitting our common senses harder with the use of specific sounds or songs surrounding a brand.
Memories are made through sensory perception, and effective sensory branding will evoke the same emotions in consumers.
The Pros and Cons of Sensory Branding
Sometimes we pick a product up and understand the effects of sensory branding simply from the way it feels in our hand. Companies leverage this form of marketing in varying ways. Whether it’s the contour of a Coca-Cola bottle, the scratch and sniff packaging of Glade or Tide, or the unmistakable robin’s egg blue of Tiffany & Co, there are examples of sensory branding everywhere. Statistics on sensory branding have shown its effect on driving sales, but what specifically does this form of marketing bring to the table?
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the positives surrounding sensory branding.
Adds a unique element to companies.
Just like the examples above, effective sensory marketing can provide a unique element for different companies. For example, the trademark brown of UPS will ensure the company stands out and will make it easily recognizable against competitors.
Strikes the emotions of customers.
If you’ve ever noticed a scent in the air, or felt something in your hand that brings you back to a certain memory, you already understand the impact sensory branding can have. Companies are able to use the same method to increase your desire towards specific products or brands.
Sensory branding can put customers “in the mood”.
Companies are able to use sensory branding to alter the moods of their customers. Certain scents, visuals, feelings, or tastes will result in the production of dopamine in the brains of customers, leading them to feel more positive towards certain products or brands.
It can give companies a broader reach.
Some companies rely entirely on the obvious–visual stimulation, to draw customers to their products. Companies that are able to effectively communicate with the other senses are likely going to be able to appeal to a wider audience.
It can turn your customers into ambassadors.
Certain companies employ the use of sensory branding so effectively that they are able to turn their customers into ambassadors for their brand. This can lead to enhanced (and free) marketing efforts, improved engagement of customers, and a more reputable brand reputation.
Sensory branding results have clearly been shown to make a positive difference in effectively marketing a product or brand, but can focusing too heavily on sensory experiences for customers have negative effects as well?
Let’s take a look at some potential negatives that arise with sensory branding.
Sensory branding is not a one size fits all marketing method.
Certain sincere brands such as Coca-Cola, Hallmark, and Ford are able to use sensory branding to forge an emotional connection with their customers. However, smaller businesses or subsidiaries may find it difficult to pull customers away from already established brands with a strong grasp of sensory branding. While sensory branding can still be effective, these companies may find the same improvement in sales through the use of other forms of marketing.
Customers may experience sensory overload.
Too much of a good thing can often lead to a negative effect. While sensory branding is great as it’s able to appeal to each of the human senses, overloading one particular sense or trying to hit them all at the same time could lead to over stimulation and in turn, the opposite effect a company is looking for.
An over focus on sensory branding efforts can lead to a loss of image.
Companies or brands that have been established for a long time may find it difficult to make the switch to different forms of sensory branding. This is because customers have long been able to identify with the brand in a certain way and making an adjustment may serve as a “rebranding” that deters current customers rather than bringing in new ones.
The effectiveness of sensory branding is highly dependent on a brand’s personality
And can’t always be used across all products. Sensory branding research suggests that companies who use uniform positions on sensory marketing across various product lines can often lose their appeal. Instead, companies may have to consider each product individually and choose marketing that will help boost the appeal of that individual product.
Sensory Branding in the World Today
Sales pitches over emails and countless ad-filled social media posts are very suffocating in today's digitally-driven world. Sensory branding offers an alternative and wider appealing approach to customers looking for a little more peace and quiet.
Sensory branding trends are always evolving, but it is extremely common in today’s competitive market. Multi-sensory branding examples are definitely leading the way to more meaningful connections between brands, and appealing to multiple senses is enabling companies to go beyond traditional digital marketing trends
There are many sensory brands in the world today. Let’s take a look at a few of the best to discover how they use the power of sensory branding to rise above the competition.
Since its founding in 1976, Apple has consistently wowed the tech world with its “ahead of the times” technology and consumer-friendly approach to marketing.
Apple products often speak for themselves when it comes to making sales, but the company goes far beyond simply creating world-beating products. Sensory branding is an important part of the company, and they are able to deliver a multi-sensory brand experience. So how does the company effectively use sensory stimuli to wow its customers into opening their wallets?
They refuse to sell their products exclusively online.
Despite being a brand that’s completely centered around the digital and technological world, Apple refuses to solely keep its transactions online. Instead, the company has created giant retail stores that attract millions of customers every day. Each store usually features a plethora of sensory stimulation. There are TV’s all over the walls, the constant chatter of sales professionals assisting companies, and of course, Apple's most important reason for maintaining storefronts—the opportunity for customers to be hands-on and feel the products before they make a purchase.
Their online space and retail stores are very visually appealing.
Apple's website is very sleek and creates an open feeling that provides the customer with a stress-free shopping experience. Apple's stores are decorated in their trademark white color and well lit with an emphasis on open space and a sleek modernized appeal—much like the products themselves. These aspects align beautifully with the personality of the company.
Since its founding in 1971 the company has created a monopoly across the world, and you’re never too far from a store.
The company has managed to rise to the top in a very competitive industry, but how has sensory marketing added to the success of the company?
It uses visual consistency in all its stores.
Yes, you can find a Starbucks in every corner of the world, but you’ll always be greeted with the same finishings, color schemes, and coffee cups wherever you go.
Each store gives off the same aroma.
Starbucks is able to transport its product to all four corners of the globe, and each store you find yourself in will greet you with the same sweet aroma, helping customers to identify with the brand.
You’ll always be greeted with the same style of music.
Each store will have a similar style of music playing, which enables customers to “feel at home” no matter where they are. It is these sensory branding efforts that help to give Starbucks its welcoming appeal, and attract millions of customers every day.
Since its creation in 1950, Dunkin Donuts has used sensory branding to propel its way to the top of the market.
How does the company use sensory branding efforts to drive its success?
Let’s have a look.
It uses strong colors unique to the brand.
The traditional orange and pink colors create a striking image that is easily identifiable.
The packaging always has the same look and feel.
Dunkin Donuts products will always be in the same consistent and smooth packaging, meaning customers always know where their delicious treats have come from.
Each store always puts its products on display the same way.
The company always has its products organized and displayed the same way, creating a unique aesthetic.
The company uses unique sensory marketing campaigns.
In one particular marketing campaign in South Korea, the company installed machines on commuter buses around the city to emit the aroma of fresh coffee as the Dunkin Donuts jingle was played simultaneously. This powerful sensory branding example meant the company was able to appeal to two senses at the same time. Through sensory branding statistics, it was shown that this particular campaign led to an impressive 29% increase in brand sales.
Let’s learn how you can do the same to drive the success of your own business.
Using Sensory Branding for your own Business
Sensory branding is an extremely powerful tool in establishing brand identity, and building rapport with customers. We know how the big companies do it, but how can you use sensory branding effectively?
The use of visuals in marketing has been around for hundreds of years. Through unique design, your business can truly stand out against the competition.
Let’s see how appealing to sight can grow your business.
Different colors evoke different feelings in people. Pick colors to match your brand identity.
Including photographs in your marketing appeals to the natural human interest we have in others. Striking images or pictures of others doing things we enjoy is a surefire way to garner the attention of customers.
Choosing a striking font and accompanying it with unique colors and images adds to the list of sensory stimuli that will undoubtedly have an impact on your customers.
The inclusion of illustrations, diagrams, and computer-generated images is also highly effective in marketing.
Video marketing became hugely popular with the development of social media. If you want to truly grab the interest of your customers, make sure your social media platforms are modern and refined.
Remember how Apple uses its trademark white to liven up its retail stores? You can do the same. Bright and vibrant light denotes sleekness and a modern feel, but alternatively softer, warmer lighting may give you that traditional feel you’re after. Figure out what works best for your brand and run with it.
Many successful businesses today use sound as a powerful tool in the advertisement of their products and brand.
Let’s see how you can use the power of sound to drive your business forward.
Voice overs are a great way to give a human appeal to your brand. explaining a product or brand can create empathy, and give you that down-to-earth feeling you’re looking for.
Dunkin Donuts used an appeal to both sound and scent to entice. You can do the same. If you have a particular “jingle” or sound unique to your brand, don’t be shy in putting it out there.
Be mindful of copyrights, but if you have a particular song or segment of a song that is relatable to your brand, use it to lure in customers.
Providing customers with specific scents can yield a psycho-sensory branding experience, and quickly lure them to your brand.
Let’s look at how you can utilize the appeal to the human sense of smell.
If your brand is centered around the outdoors or anything to do with nature, using scents associated with environments such as the ocean or mountains, can create a humbling feeling within customers.
If fields of roses or lavender is more your thing, fragrant scents can instantly guide customers in your direction.
Using food scents to appeal to customers can even make them hungry, or lead to a cravings of what you’re offering.
Being able to physically touch or interact with something is an important part of any buying process. Purchasing phones, cars, or pretty much anything tangible is unlikely to happen without being able to physically experience what you’re purchasing.
Let’s have a look at how this can help drive your business.
If your industry is clothing, furniture, or anything that relies upon feeling comfortable, giving customers the chance to feel just how amazing your products are is essential to driving sales.
Giving something a quality finishing touch will make a difference in how customers feel about your products. Sometimes light and flexible can be the feel you want, but other times it might be a little more weight that makes the difference. Using printed materials as opposed to digital can also lead customers into making purchases.
If having a storefront is appropriate to your business, giving customers the chance to be hands on with your products will undoubtedly see an increase in sales.
Much like the appeal of scents, allowing customers to physically taste what they are purchasing can entice them into wanting more. Successful businesses like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts often provide samples of their products to customers with the goal of creating cravings.
Let’s see how you might be able to do the same to help your own business.
Providing your customers with samples of your products will help entice them into wanting more.
Demonstrating new flavors
Regularly providing samples of new products is a great way to learn about likes and dislikes of customers. This is also a great way to stay current with an ever-changing market.
Sensory Branding for the Win
So there you have it, you should now have a clear understanding of sensory branding definition. Sensory branding has provided results that have proven the success of this powerful marketing tool in the world today. It’s a sensory branding world out there and through learning about what works and doesn’t work for the major corporations in the market today, you too can appeal to the senses of customers to create a business that not only thrives, but continues to develop in a world more competitive than the Superbowl.