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November 14th, 2017

A Sensory Approach to Branding the Unexpected Details

“Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail.” – Leonardo da Vinci

So, your brand is in a comfortable place. You have a solid foundation, a well-thought-out purpose, and you’re moving forward with confidence. Now what? Now it’s time to tackle the unexpected details. The parts and pieces of your brand that have yet to be considered—the aha’s, the thought-provoking moments, or the “Easter eggs,” as we like to call them. Now it’s time to prove to your audience that you’re a creative thought leader who is willing to go the extra mile.

While thinking about how to incorporate more thoughtful cues into your brand experience, consider these methods of perception: sight, language, sound, and smell.

Sight

Sight is the most evident of the senses when examining a brand’s perception. While your logo, stationery, and collateral are important visual assets, a category often overlooked is signage. Available in all shapes and sizes, with a vast range of purposes from complex wayfinding systems down to the smallest consumer indicators, each element is important in communicating a part of your brand story.

When assessing the success of a restaurant or store in its totality, one thing I like to look at is the “Employees must wash their hands before returning to work” sign. Is it scribbled on a water-stained piece of paper, haphazardly taped to the wall? Is it a generic sign purchased from Staples? Or is it framed, behind glass, typeset on a sturdy substrate, and hung at a calculated height? None of these scenarios are necessarily right or wrong; it all depends on how the sign aligns with its brand experience that determines its success, so think it through.

Language

In this arena, consistency is key. A strategic venue where your brand can demonstrate verbal harmony is social media. From Facebook, to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (or whatever platforms make sense for your brand), all language should be uniform across the board.

One of the things we like to check first when executing a social media audit is that all handles are formatted consistently from one platform to the next. Meaning, do they use the same letters and words, in the same order, with the same capitalization structure? This is a simple, yet effective way to make it as easy as possible for your audience to find you. The last thing you want to do is miss out on a potential tag because you’re not set up to be consistent across platforms.

Not only are your handles important, but you should also take a look at your tagline or positioning statement as the brand description. Here at BOLTGROUP, we encourage our employees to use the same “description” in the company line on LinkedIn profiles. As Peyton mentions in his blog “Filtering Your Brand from the Inside Out”, you always want your team to project internally and externally that they understand the brand’s purpose and strategy in a cohesive manner.

Sound

What does your brand sound like? Sound has the potential to provide rich and complex reactions almost instantaneously. Radio ads, voiceovers, and in-store music are top of mind when I examine a brand’s sound. But what about when a consumer calls your business and is put on hold? Do they hear silence? Music? A sales pitch? You may not realize it, but even your hold-time recording is a part of your brand experience. Your audience will connect with—or resist—this subtle difference whether it registers as a conscious thought or not, so be sure to choose something that reinforces your brand.

Smell

One of the most underutilized senses in the realm of brand experiences is right under your nose. Literally. Smell has been long proven to evoke powerful emotions as it ties into nostalgia.  When paired correctly with a brand personality, it can have a powerful impact. Think of Cinnabon. What comes to mind? Can you smell the aroma of freshly baked goods? This positive association is not a byproduct of simply conducting business, it’s built in by design and amplified to draw you in. If scent marketing is relevant to your brand, taking advantage of such a powerful tool is advised.

Remember, details are what elevate your brand from good to great. The tricky thing about details is that they’re often overlooked. To find what your brand is lacking, audit your current standing with a fresh set of eyes (ears and noses). Better yet, give us a call and we’ll do it for you!

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