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Branding Sense

February 1, 2010

NAOMI HUI, Creative Director

Name recognition used to be the biggest objective of branding. But, branding is not just a logo, tagline, or color palette. Not anymore. A strong brand now includes all fives senses. Sounds, smells, and even tastes are a part of a company’s branding essence.

Think about the last time you saw a McDonald’s sign. Did you also smell or taste the fries in your mind? What about Southwest Airlines’ commercials? Do you hear the “ding” of the announcer over the loudspeaker? How about the refreshing taste and bubbly sound of a Coca-Cola being poured in their ads?

All these things contribute to a strong and lasting message in the minds of consumers. The mental images that are associated with the brands should be positive and easily understood. Additionally, the company’s message should reverberate throughout all their marketing materials and corresponding web/print media. We also have to add social media venues to the mix. The brand of the company should be easily recognizable from the language of tweets and posts on Facebook.

Smell of Success

"Mmm... the sweet smell of success... with a hint of hazelnut."

An example of a strong brand is Starbucks. The smell of their coffee (and pastries), their earthy colors, their quality and fair trade messages—all of these tie together cohesively into their branding campaign. Every item they sell, and the advertising that accompanies it, is permeated with their brand. In return, they earn a devoted following.

On the other hand is Walmart, a larger company. Walmart’s brand, though, is nonexistent—the blue letters and yellow starburst do not evoke any positive mental image of the company, employees, or shopping experience.

The flavors of a company’s brand should be discernible from others out there. The visuals should be unique and stimulate the senses, but simultaneously not water down the message. If this is successfully achieved, the audience is left with a satisfying aftertaste that keeps them coming back for more.

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