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Patterns of People: Sensorial Branding

Designing for the senses isn’t a revolutionary idea, but a brand guiding a consumer through an emotional journey using layers of senses is. When brands appeal to more than three senses, brand impact and engagement can be increased by more than 70%. As our environment becomes more digital and less visceral, we desire to explore our senses in places that we haven’t before. In religion we call it spirits; in science we call it energy; on the street we call it vibes. At the end of the day, we all know we trust specific feelings that go beyond data. As brands, we can guide this new journey.

How is this trend coming to life today?


From car doors slamming to opening a soda can, slight nuances become differentiators for your brand. This is something that the car industry has known for years. In the late 1990s, Daimler Chrysler established a department whose sole purpose was to improve the sound of their car doors. Across categories, how your consumer fully experience your brand then become what your brand stands for. Packaging has a surprising impact on taste. World-renowned neuroscientist, Charles Spence conducted a study to determine how much impact the experience of opening a can of soda has—the pop, hiss and whoosh instantly conotes the quality of the product to the drinker.

So what: Experience your product in different setting to fully understand what your consumer is exposed to. They are never in a board room discussing the design of the product, but instead they choose products subconsciously based on colors, shapes, sounds, textures, etc.


We are constantly inundated with over 11 million bits of data per second, but can only process 50 bits. It is physically impossible to contextualize everything we are surrounded by, but when two or more senses work together, learning and memory boost exponentially. Health and cheesy goodness seems like two opposites sides of the spectrum, but Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was able to improve their formula without anyone noticing. Consumers were so inundated with the ritual of tearing open the blue box and mixing their ingredients with the iconic orange cheese that they were not aware the taste was any different. When we understand how brain chemistry influences our sensorial connections in a meaningful way, we can use these connections in concept mapping and overall storytelling for our brands.

So what: Technology is driving communication in a new direction beyond our typical five senses. While evolving your product, strike a delicate balance between new features that draw intrigue and subtle touches that trigger favorable nostalgic memories.


When a brand is known to have multiple iconic senses such as a color, smell, taste, it can then stretch into new categories and still be credible. Carlsberg, the trusted beer company, leveraged their rich knowledge of beer’s healthy ingredients such as proteins, fibers, and vitamins to create beer beauty—products that appeals to men through Carlsberg’s familiar smell and color. Brand stretch is effective when you completely understand your consumers life as well. Patagonia is all about exploring the beautiful world around us. Branching into the buffalo jerky industry was an obvious stretch to their outdoor orientated consumers who historically have carried this protein rich snack in their packs during their journeys. The jerky brand also respects and preserves the national buffalo population. Preserving nature is a shared value among the brand and consumer, creating a bond beyond just a product.

So what: Leverage your iconic assets in new ways to branch out beyond what you’re known for, but feel instantly familiar among consumers.


To understand how to leverage this trend, contact us! We’d love to hear from you.

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