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Brand experience ideas based on sensory branding insights



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From the moment we’re born, our senses make up the fabric of our experiences. They’re entwined with our emotions, anchored in our memories, and according to new research that’s challenging the tenets of Western philosophy, our experience in the physical world has an unconscious effect on how we think, feel and behave.

It’s no surprise then our senses have the power to shape our perception of brands, affecting how intuitively we connect with them, and how credible we perceive their messages to be, whether it’s at a single touchpoint or across the entire customer journey. What is surprising is that many brands quite literally take leave of their senses – and the resulting disconnect between what a brand says and how it feels can leave a bad taste in our mouths.

This eclectic, illuminating and interactive talk weaves together key strands of scientific research, from synesthesia to sensory metaphors, to reveal the three critical drivers of multisensory brand experience – and how you can harness them to create a more impactful, holistic experience that will ultimately change the way people feel – and behave – in relation to brands.

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Brand experience ideas based on sensory branding insights

  1. Hello Lewis Robbins Senior Associate Strategist
  2. of Millennials crave experiences that stimulate the senses. 76% This stat makes sense at first. But what about the other 24%? Do they loathe sunsets? Do they despise chocolate pudding?
  3. There’s a gap between the rich sensory experience of our personal lives and the alien way we approach the senses in the marketing world.
  4. We are all already experts in the senses. And if we could tap into our own expertise, what powerful, brilliant experiences we could create.
  5. Four common sense techniques you can use to elevate your brand.
  6. A coffee brand gave away its product after this billboard created a yawning epidemic.
  7. Yawns are contagious because of ‘mirror neurons’. We understand experiences we see, hear or read by simulating that experience in our brains.
  8. KICK “Green tastes like lemon ice cream, and smells like grass that’s just been cut.” Mirror neurons can be activated in a number of different ways. The Black Book of Colours helps blind people to feel colour through raised images, and evocative text.
  9. KICKReading ‘sensory’ words (‘mustard’, ‘feathers’) activates the sensory cortex. The brain treats depictions of movement, scent, and texture as the real thing. We all have a beautiful sensory palette waiting to be activated at any time. “Yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers”
  10. Glorious Soup created a context for its product, likening it to ‘strolling under a colourful tree canopy’.
  11. This Nike ad, shot entirely in the first-person perspective, creates a vicarious experience that allows the viewer to project themselves into the ad.
  12. Use mirror neurons to create extra crunch! Don’t stop with clarity and logic. Activate mirror neurons through sound, sight, and words to make something happen in another person’s mind.
  13. Synesthesia means ‘joined sensation’. It’s a neurological phenomenon where one sensory stimulus triggers another.
  14. We are all synesthetes. But this kind of cross-wiring isn’t the exception. It’s the norm.
  15. Which shape is Kiki, which is Bouba? 95% of people named the sharp, spiky shape on the left Kiki—and the soft, rounded shape on the right Bouba. We ‘map’ the sound to the shape.
  16. Aligning the senses – Cadburys changed the shape of their chocolate (you could call it Cadburys Bouba) to enhance its smooth, creamy flavour.
  17. Our surroundings also influence our perception of a product. Aligning the senses is called cross-modal design. It can make a whiskey taste sweeter, a car engine sound more powerful.
  18. Jack Morton created an experience for Nespresso Cubania that mapped the characteristics of the coffee to the rhythm of the dancers and the music.
  19. Let Kiki and Bouba be your guide! We are all synesthetes. Align the senses to make brand experiences more engaging, memorable and enjoyable.
  20. Tradeshows like Mobile World Congress can seem like anti-hospitality experiences. It’s about sales and leads, driven by who can shout the loudest.
  21. Create a warm welcome by bringing people to their senses. Don’t facilitate transactions—build relationships.
  22. Sensory cues have a powerful effect on mood. This Philips lighting system uses different wavelengths and intensities of light to complement the rhythm of activity inside the classroom.
  23. Every sensory cue affects how people feel. Birdsong isn’t just nice to listen to—it’s been used hospitals, airports, classrooms and banks to create a calming atmosphere.
  24. Selfridges created The Silence Room – a temporary space where shoppers can de-stress and recharge.
  25. Bring people to their senses Empathise with your audience to build deeper, longer-lasting relationships.
  26. Physical sensations can prime our perceptions. People use warmer language to describe an encounter if they are holding a warm cup of coffee. People who have just been socially excluded feel colder than those who haven’t.
  27. Puzzle pieces covered in sandpaper primed people to perceive an interaction as being more adversarial and difficult. (It went ‘roughly’, as opposed to everything going ‘smoothly’.)
  28. An experiment showed that two groups of people, both assessing identical CVs, will give more ‘weight’ to the CV presented on a weighted clipboard.
  29. Microsoft embodied the user experience of Windows 8, ‘fast and fluid’, by building a slide in a shopping centre.
  30. We understand abstract concepts largely through metaphor. Apple’s glass staircases embody the values of the brand.
  31. Forget sterile cosmetics environments. Aesop’s use of materials reflects a kinder attitude to personal care.
  32. The Jewish Museum is an architectural metaphor for something that words alone couldn’t convey.
  33. Grasp sensory metaphors Express your brand values through sensory metaphors to communicate with people on a deep, intuitive level.
  34. Use mirror neurons to create extra crunch Let Kiki and Bouba be your guide Bring people to their senses Grasp sensory metaphors
  35. As children, we explore and learn about the world through play and through the senses. But somewhere along the line we lose our way. So let’s remember our own expertise—and use the senses to create impactful, beautiful experiences that change how people feel—and which live long in the memory.
  36. Talk to us – Contact Peter Sun VP, Brand Marketing +1.212.401.7015 Read our blog at Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at About Jack Morton We’re a global brand experience agency. We generate breakthrough ideas, connecting brands and people through experiences that transform business. Our portfolio of award-winning work spans 75 years across event marketing, sponsorship marketing, promotion and activation, experience strategy, employee engagement, digital, social, and mobile. Ranked at the top of our field, Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). © Jack Morton Worldwide 2015

Editor's Notes

  • Hello and welcome.
    My name’s Lewis
    And today I’ll be talking about the science of sensory branding.
    I work for an agency called Jack Morton
    We’re a brand experience agency
    To create the ultimate experience you have to use the senses.
    Which is why we have to be experts in it.
    We’ve drilled it down to the 4 key techniques you can use to bring brands to life.

  • Yet we don’t always use the language of real life when it comes to marketing.
    What about the other 24%? Do they loathe sunsets, despise chocolate pudding? 
    Do children burst into tears at the prospect of colourful toys?
    Do non-millennials lock themselves in sensory deprivation tanks, safe from sunsets and chocolate pudding?

    Statistic that masks really a common sense truth.
  • We all have the senses in common.
    And yet there is still this gap between the richness and realness of our the experiences in our everyday lives
    And the alien way we approach the senses in a branded world.

    I am not a scientist, or a psychologist. 
    I am a strategist.
    A key part of part of my job is collapsing that gap.
    And I think that the wonderful thing about this new science of the senses it that it can close that gap.
  • And today I’m not gonna tell you anything that you don’t know.
    All I’m gonna do today is remind you
    that we are all experts in this already.
    By virtue of being human beings. 

    Let’s not just apply this expertise to our personal lives.
    Let’s apply it to our jobs as well.

    When we tap into the richness of our life experiences – what powerful, brilliant, experiences we can create.
  • 4 common senses techniques I’m gonna take you through.

    Lots of examples and inspiration.
    Mini recap.
    There’ll be a few sensory interludes.

    Reminding you of what you know already – how to use the senses to

  • So picture the scene. MAD MAX.
    Power of fiction.

    We’re engrossed. Transported. Forget everything else around you.

    We all understand that can happen.
    This section looks at one of the ingredients of this quality of immersion.
    Marketing that spans different mediums.
    Break down barriers.
    Makes stuff happen in another person’s mind.

  • One of these ingredients – seeing someone do something – we wanna do it ourselves.

    Break down barriers. Between physical and digital.
  • There’s a word this phenomenon.

    They’re called mirror neurons.
    As you’ve seen – stuff we see, we mirror it ourselves.
    Also true for stuff we hear. Or read. Or see.

    You’re not experiencing it directly.
    But as far as your brains concerned – you are.

  • Why words and fiction is so powerful a tool.
    Our brain doesn’t make much of a distinction between what we read – and things that happen to us in real life.

    Reading sensory words like lavender – or perfume, or coffee – activate the part of your brain that porcesses smell.
    Reading metaphors like – the singer has a velvety voice – leathery hands – rouse the sensory cortex.
    Why words and stories are so powerful at conveying things.

    Black Book of Colours.
    Describes colour for blind people, by activating different sensations.
    Green tastes like lemon ice cream, and smells like grass that’s just been cut.
    Describing something has the same effect as the experience itself.

    That clarity and logic of product benefits just can’t match.

    – they make something happen in another person’s mind


    However, most brands fall far short. Lindstrom explains that currently, 83% of commercial communications appeal only to the eye, leaving a paltry 17% to satisfy the other four senses.

  • Takes you somewhere else.
    Builds a little world.
    Smooth butternut squash soup with a hint of warming cumin and strolling under a colourful tree canopy.
    Activates imagination.
  • And that’s wjhat this ad by Nike.

    YoutTube ad. 5 seconds to make an impression.
    A vicarious experience that alllows the viewer to project yourself into the ad.
    Literally puts you inside these different situations, from the mind of the character.
    Makes something happen in another person’s mind.
    Empathy, because they collapse the distance between the self and others.
  • Don’t just appeal to the eye.
    Not about clarity and logic.
    Activate the imagination
    Build another world
    Make stuff happen in person’s mind.

  • When I was little one
    Me and my family would go the local seaside town
    Buy a big bag of fish and chips and eat them at the seafront.
    And ti was brilliant.
    Crinkly brown paper bag, fresh wind, salty air,
    Fending off the seagulls.
    The most delicious fish and chips I’ve ever tasted.

    How do we make a product or a brand feel as good as that?
    More engaging, more memorable, more enjoyable.

    Explore strange quirk of Synesthesia.
  • Synesthesia means joined sensation.
    Neurological phenomenon whereby
    Where one sensory stimulus triggers another.
    Remi has it. He eats food and sees colour, hears sound.
  • This kind of cross-wiring is not the exception – it’s the norm.
    We are all synesthetes.

  • And if we align senses in this way, stuff is more enjoyable.
    This is what C did when they changed their barsz from Cadburys Kiki to Cadburys Bouba.
    Intensifying flavour to enhance melt in mouth flavour.

    Not just visual support.
    Synesthesia can be used across all senses.

    Martin Lyndstrom -
    Sound on home pages increases return by 76%
    Brands with music that 'fits' have 96% greater recall.

  • Our surroundings also influence of perception of a product.
    Aligning different is called cross-modal design.

    Three immersive sensory worlds highlight three notes of a Singletons whiskey. Sweet, grassy, smokey.
    This is the sweet room, where the sweetness of the whiskey was enhanced through red lighting, curved surfaces, tinkly music. 

    This is why those fish and chips tasted so good.

    Increased enjoyment by 20%.
    The more senses you engage, the more memorable something is.


  • For example, we created an experience for Nespreso Cubania.
    Took you into the sights , sounds, smells of a Cuban street scene.
    Coffee was brought to life in lots of different ways
    Which included the characteristics of the coffee of the rhythm of the dancers and the music.

    The visceral roar of ignition in a powerful car.
    The glide of a razor blade.
    The Sound of Porsche.
    Zoning. Online, instore, wherever it may be. 


  • Going round a friend’s house for dinner.
    Set of sensory cues – even before you’ve entered the house
    Theirs is this set of sensory cues that makes you feel good
    And makes you anticipate a good experience.
    Frames our mindset for what’s to come.

    How we can use the connection between the emotions and the senses to shape mindsets of people who are interacting with your brand.
  • Anti-hospitality experience.

    On the defensive, overwhelmed. Helpless. Vulnerable.
    Being locked in a windowless room with a bunch of narcissists, fighting for your attention.

    Leads and sales –orientated experience about who can shout the loudest.

  • But 1 brand stoodf out.
    Brought me to my senses.
    Japenses brand.
    Hospitable. Understand. Treating people as guests. Not prospects or targets.
    Welcomeing people into home.
    Another concept that collapses that gap.

    Banks, car dealerships, retail spaces used to be very transactional spaces – to these immersive, innovative settings that emphasise service and building relationships.
    Again his is something we already know.

  • Bringing people to their senses.
    Making them feel at home.
    We all know that birdsong is quite nice to listen to.
    And that its been used in hospitals, airport lounges, and banks.
    Hosts in home.
  • Selfridges Quiet Room.
    Builds space into customer journey.
    Shopping can be draining. Needs to recharge.
    Empathises with peoples needs.

    Shift transactional spaces – into spaces of empathy and Omotenashi.
    That set the foundation for longer-term relationships.

    Retail is a fascinating space that’s gone being very transactional - orderly arrays of clothing, grouped by size, arranged by age and gender - 
    to this dynamic, innovative setting that puts products in a much more emotive and experiential contexts that engage the senses.

    Building space into customer journey.
    Empathy. Self-awareness.

    Transition spaces. Cleanse the palette.
  • Empathy – like philips lighting system.
    Sensory environments that are people-centric. That understand that attention and energy are finite. Caters to needs.

    Banks, car dealerships, retail.
    Build relationships. Shift from transactions to service – a warm welcome. Make people feel at home.

    Be authentic.

    One of the kindest, most effective ways to create a real experience is to bring people to their senses.
    To bring them to themselves.
    Empathy. Authenticity. Happiness. Emotion.

    Create our own environments in way that’s incredibly nuanced.

    Moderate our emotions and mindset throughout the day.
    Glass of wine.
    High-tempo music when you’re going out. Music crucial.

    In a world of information, clutter, infinite distraction
    One of the kindest and most effective ways of connecting with people is to bring them to their senses.

  • Imagine you’re at a party.

    Hi, my name’s Clive.
    And my three personality pillars are honesty, integrity, and respect.
    You would run as fast as you can in the opposite direction from this strange automaton.
    It would be weird for a person to communicate this way.

    Yet some brands still behave like that.
    Describe what their values are, what their philosophy.

    Communcating your brand values to people on an intuitive level.

    Great way for brands to communicate abstract values is through sensory metaphors.
    That is, we understand abstract concepts by mapping them to physical experiences.

  • Big findings of cognitive science –
    Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

  • Physical structures so good at expressing brand qualities.
    Need to make something tanglble of these metaphors.

    Need physical embodiments to grasp them.
    Why we need so much investment.
    These qualities and values – so hard to grasp – we need to make them more tangible.
    McLaren. Apple.
    Jewis museum – allows us to grasp something that can’t be grasped through words.

  • We don’t just think with our brains, we think with our bodies.

    Physical sensations prime emotional warmth.

    That is, we understand abstract concepts by mapping them to physical experiences.
    Whip through some research now that demonstrates this.

    People holding a warm cup of coffee will use warmer language to describe their interaction with a stranger than those who aren’t.
    The physical sensation of warmth - triggers an emotional warmth.
  • 2
    Handling rough puzzle pieces can make people perceive something to be more difficult.
    Think of a rough day, versus day
    Variation of this is _____
  • Cognitive Science.

    An experiment showed that two groups of people
    Assessing identical CVs
    Gave more weight
    To the CV on the weighted clipboard.
    Perceived that person to be more competent.

    We think with our bodies. Not just our brains.
    Physical sensations change how we think.
  • Abstract properties of mateirals.

  • Jewish Museum
    The Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Liebeskind. 
    The museum itself is made of reinforced concrete, full of complex internal spaces, void spaces, and dead ends.
  • Don’t be Clive

    Explicit description

    Implicit understanding

    Picture is worth a thousand words.
    Move away from systems, language, etc.
    Human, organic repsonsive.
    Embodied cognition is buildings blocks of how we construct meaning.
  • And so – a final recap – these are the four key ways you can use the senses to breathe renewed life into a brand.
    Lift things from flat world.

    We do all of these things already in our private lives.
  • SLIDE CHANGE – Per Peter, drop “Thanks” and add URL for getting in touch. Keep Matt contact info if it fits.

    We would love to hear from you – both about things you are doing to tackle the gap or your thoughts on what we presented today. Please get in touch – we would like to keep the conversation going about how we can all do more.

    Clipboards going around.

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