Sensory Branding Is the Next Big Thing

Woman immersed in a sensory brand experience

By Nine Blaess | 9 min

In this article
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    Most people only think of branding as a visual representation of a company. We experience the world around us with all our senses. So why not brands, too? Sensory branding allows companies to create more immersive and memorable brand experiences for their target audiences.

    What is sensory branding?

    Sensory branding means using different sensory stimuli to increase brand recognition and differentiation.

    Our five senses work together to create sensory-rich experiences. Each sense plays a role in our perception of the world. By engaging multiple senses at once, brands can create more memorable experiences that help build a stronger emotional connection between the brand and the customer. It also allows them to better differentiate themselves from their competitors.

    Brands can appeal to our five senses in the following ways: 

    • Sound: The ability to perceive sounds, including music and speech.
    • Smell: The ability to perceive odours and scents.
    • Taste: The ability to perceive different flavours.
    • Touch: The ability to feel pressure, temperature, weight and texture.
    • Sight: The ability to perceive light, colour, form and movement.

    The science behind sensory branding

    Our brain processes sensory information in different areas, including the thalamus, the cerebral cortex and the amygdala.

    When we experience a sensory input, it travels from the receptor towards the thalamus, which receives it as a sensation. This sensation gets then relayed to the cerebral cortex for interpretation.[1] From there it travels to the amygdala, which processes our feelings and memories.

    How can brands appeal to different senses?

    Sonic branding

    With the boom of podcasts and video content, sonic branding has become an increasingly important tool for brands to stand out from the crowd.

    There are many ways for brands to use sound, including:

    • jingles ( like the famous Nokia ringtone)
    • sound effects ( such as when starting a MacBook)
    • slogans (e.g. Because You’re Worth It by L’Oreal)
    • the use of a specific voice (Jake Wood’s voice in Geico commercials)
    • the sound of the product itself (e.g. the sound of opening a Coca-Cola bottle)

    Scent branding

    Scent branding is often used in retail spaces. Department stores, hotels or restaurants diffuse brand-specific scents to create a special atmosphere that over time becomes increasingly associated with the brand.

    These are a few ways brands can use scent:

    • scented environments (e. g. Ritz Carlton’s signature scent of lavender and rosemary)
    • scented products (like the characteristic smell of Play-Doh)
    • scented marketing materials (catalogues, etc.)

    Tactile branding

    Post-pandemic, people crave tactile experiences more than ever. Here’s how brands can stimulate the sense of touch:

    • Packaging design and other printed marketing materials (through the use of distinctive textures, shapes materials or print techniques)
    • Product materials (e. g. Apple’s use of Aluminium in their products)
    • Retail environments (tactile materials used in the interior design)

    Visual branding

    Visual branding refers to everything that goes into a visual identity, such as a logo, typography, colour schemes or photography. Since visual branding is quite common nowadays, I will not go into it further here.

    The future of sensory branding

    As more brands begin to incorporate sensory experiences into their marketing, sensory branding will become more sophisticated. Furthermore, the future of sensory branding is likely to be significantly shaped by new technologies and sustainability efforts.

    Virtual reality

    The development of virtual reality technology will enable brands to create more immersive and interactive sensory experiences, allowing them to engage with their customers on a deeper level.

    AI and machine learning

    AI and machine learning will enable brands to capture and analyse even more data about customer behaviour and preferences. This will allow them to create more personalised sensory experiences.


    Companies are increasingly expected to reduce the impact of their activities on the environment. This may mean using more environmentally friendly materials and processes in the future and sourcing their raw materials from more ethical suppliers.

    By creating consistent sensory experiences, brands can evoke strong associations in the minds of consumers and thus build a deeper connection with their audience. In such a saturated market, we will certainly see more brands orchestrating holistic sensory experiences in the future.

    If you’re interested in the topic, I can recommend Martin Lindstrom’s book Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy.


    [1] News-Medical.Net, What does the Thalamus do?

    Title image by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels 


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