Wall Street Journal told us this week that there is, in fact, more to a consumer brand than a product, its packaging, advertising and the emotional connection both make with people that drives sales.
News flash: "Sound is emerging as a new branding frontier," wrote reporter Ellen Byron in an article Wednesday titled "The Search for Sweet Sounds That Sell".
Ah, you’re right – that sounds a little snarky. And in truth, Ellen wrote a good story, and she’s right. "Subtle auditory cues can make a big difference to shoppers choosing between several brands, companies say," she wrote.
What she’s describing is sensory branding and neuromarketing, something that I found great affinity for after reading (and reviewing on this blog) two books by Martin Lindstrom, Buyology: The Truth Lies About What We Buy and Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Beyond the Stuff We Buy.
Brands agonize over the sounds they leverage within products to drive positive consumer association. Ellen tells the story about the time and effort Clinique put in to create just the right click for its High Impact Extreme Volume mascara. The click reassures users that the mascara won’t dry out.
Another brand Ellen referenced was Snapple and the pop its bottle makes when you open it (see above). I know that sound well; I’m a huge Diet Snapple fan and that sound literally makes my mouth water in anticipation. To me, that sounds signifies the product’s excellent taste and is like a mental set up to that experience.
But remember, there are three other senses beyond sight and sound. Those same brand associations can be made with taste, touch and smell.
Think about it. How do you feel when you’re test driving new cars and you take a deep inhale of that new car smell? Like Clinique, automakers are painstaking when it comes to developing that smell, which is specifically incorporated into a new car, according to Lindstrom. (And you thought it was happenstance? Guess again.)
Think about how effective it is for a brand when several sensory cues work together. The best example I have of that is Planters nuts; I’m a fiend for mixed nuts, especially cashews. When I buy a can of one or the other, I get the pop of the pressure-sensitive seal, the fresh smell of the nuts and of course the taste. I might even say that the size of the can, which fits in my palm, could be considered another cue. The point is, all those cues make the packaging’s graphic design and even its advertising basically window dressing to the full experience.
So yes … sound is a key part of branding, but to say it’s a new frontier is a bit misleading. There are five senses and maybe brands are getting more savvy with how they are utilizing them.
Tell me about a brand you love that uses a special sound, taste, touch and smell to drive a positive association in your mind.
(Image credit to Wall Street Journal.)