Extra Brand Perception

2.4.09 :: When was the last time a brand engaged all 5 of your senses (short of buying the product)? Probably not recently. Up until now, brands have been very adept at engaging people with interactive social media (Facebook) and entertainment (HBO’s voyeur project). These utilize sight and, sometimes, sound. However, some brands have added touch and smell to the experience. In 2006, Levi’s created an Intellifit computer that evaluates a customer’s body to find their perfect pair of jeans while also recommending additional clothing items– almost like an expert jeans tailor.

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And, just this past holiday season, Stove Top Stuffing installed heat lamps into Chicago bus stops with ads to remind you of the warmth it brings during the holidays. The California Milk Board (read: got milk?) even went so far as to pipe in the smell of milk and cookies into bus stops. All of these examples use technology to create a memorable, physical and, I would argue, more active brand experience.

This can even be done without a marketing budget equal to the GDP of Monaco. In the below example, a design firm has physically engaged their audience using a business card that they simply put some thought into. While this does not engage more than 2 senses, the experience is definitely more physical and interactive. What’s even better is that it pays off their concept: get stretchy.

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This is similar to a project we completed for a local printer. Using a direct mail, we asked print buyers to show their offices how important they were by sending them an unique office door hanger.

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So, will we ever use more than 3 senses to communicate our messages? Well, as technology develops and allows people and brands to engage each other on a more personal level, I think touch and smell will meld with sight and hearing to tell us the full brand story. Just imagine a computer that can simulate the smell of an online recipe or honest to goodness electronic paper that feels like the shirt you are going to buy. I leave you with a preview of Apple’s touch screen MacBook that demonstrates how our physical senses might be combined with our more cerebral ones.