The Olympics will always be a big deal for brand visibility. What can the recent branding flops during the Sochi Olympics teach us about branding?

A massive fifty-one billion dollars were spent on promoting the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics, and, as expected, the local tourist industry spends everything it can to guarantee that it is remembered for years to come.  Local hotels, restaurants and other tourist resorts have only a few short weeks of exhaustive international media attention to shine. With a fortune spent on Sochi, why the flop? The ads looked great; the message was on spot, but the reports from the consumers have been dower. Reports of undrinkable water, incompetent booking service, toilets side by side and numerous other mishaps have left a bad rep for these new hotels and the future of the Sochi tourism industry. Branding is a holistic and a sensual experience and all the visibility and promotion in the world cannot save a brand that does not take into account the holistic experiences of their customers.

Let’s take the Surf Lounge for contrast, a brand that allocates all its resources into holistic branding. When you step into the Surf Lounge, a holiday resort in Montauk, you can smell a salty ocean breeze, warm sand, sun-screened skin and the distant scent of seafood. Of all our senses the sense of smell is aligned most closely to emotion and memory.  The scents of Surf Lounge not only calm the nerves, they create strong feelings of nostalgia for the visitors. Return visits are common. The pleasant mixture of scents found at the Surf Lounge are not actually natural emanations, but fragrances created via the new scent branding agency 12.29. Holistic branding companies such as 12.29 understand that building a brand is about creating memories that people hold onto. Branding is more than simply grabbing a consumer’s attention. A sensuous experience is the primary ingredient of a pleasant memory, and holistic branders, new and old, create engaging memories and experiences for their customers. In this Drive Branding article, we will break holistic branding down into several building blocks, and see how progressive brand companies view branding as a multi-sensory enterprise.

 

Follow Your Nose


Scent branding just makes sense. And the studies prove it. For example, in 1990 Doctor Alan Hirsch, a neurologist, studied the effects a floral scent has on consumers as they shop for shoes. The results showed that consumers were 84% more likely to desire the same shoes in a scented environment. Not only were they more enticed by the product, they also supposed the shoes were of a higher and more expensive quality when they browsed the sweet smelling environment.

Scent branding has been gaining more and more traction since Hirsch’s study two decades ago. 12.29 and ScentAir are two branding agencies specializing in scent, and independent branding agencies are becoming increasingly enamoured by what an aroma can achieve for brand awareness. The tight connections between nostalgia, emotion and the sense of smell assures that a scent can be an indispensable tool in inspiring consumers to a powerful brand loyalty.

 

Good Taste


IFF is responsible for the manufacturing of everything from the scent used in deodorant and laundry detergent to the buttery taste of popcorn or McDonald fries. Fragrance and flavour go hand-in-hand, as taste is virtually dependent on scent. This is why many innovative restaurant brands assure that their place of business is marked by an enticing scent. A mouth-watering scent of baking vanilla cookies springs from the toll-house baking house on Main Street, New York. Yet the scent is manufactured and artificial, an aroma shot out of the pipes but unconnected to the actual baking. This is an interesting form of branding, in which a potential consumer is enticed by a certain taste, before even purchasing anything.

 

A Sound Choice


Many of us are reminded of a particular brand of cellphone simply by hearing their ring-tone in public. And how many of us hum commercial jingles? The sounds and songs of branding surround us, and plenty of studies show that positive sounds lead to positive sales. Take American Apparel for example, which features an in-store radio station that plays particular music to entice customers into long, memorable shopping trips.

 We all know the right tune can be a mood changer, and holistic brand thinkers keeps ambience in mind. Websites, cellphone aps, online ads and in-store locations can always benefit from fitting sounds and songs; recent developments in the branding world ensures that these are more available than ever.

Take the recently launched Cuesongs for example.  Much like a commercial image repository Cuesongs offers thousands of licensed tracks for the exclusive use of branding. The discerning brand developer has yet another tool to create an exclusive brand identity, but like the selector of a successful film soundtrack the perfect choice must be made for the perfect mood.

 

Simply Touching


Feel the familiar keys on your keyboard. Or the distinctive shape of a soft-drink bottle in your hand. It’s easy to forget how accustomed we become to the touch and feel of our favorite products. Yet if a product doesn’t feel right, or familiar, it risks losing an important but overlooked part of its core brand identity.

The feel of a brand can become more important than its packaging or brand name. A recent 2013 consumer report has shown that the most recognizable toilet paper brand names have begun to lose to up-and-coming brands such as Wal-Mart’s in-house White Cloud brand. One explanation for the emergence of this new trend is based upon the fact that Walmart locations have begun to let their customers “feel the difference” Sample toilet paper rolls allow shoppers to judge a brand by its texture; as we have seen before, a good sensory experience can make a brand.

 

Transformative Branding: More than Meets the Eye


As we can see, branding is more than the visual identity or packaging of a product. A holistic branding campaign is able to think of branding in terms of a customer’s overall experience with a product or service and guarantees that the experience is memorable and loyalty-building. An example of a holistic branding approach can be found in the transformation of Celebration Health, a Floridian medical centre. Taking a multi-sensory approach to their campaign, the hospital is scented with an oceanic-coconut fragrance. A sound-management system assures that the usual cacophony of a clinic is reduced to a calming, ambient lull. The shape and feel of the furniture is not the usual hard plastic, wooden rocking chairs and lounge chairs convey to customers a sense of relaxation and recreation. The visuals within the hospital are peaceful: beachside murals, vividly colored sea-themed video games inside the children’s room, wide open-spaces full of plants and natural light, a sandcastle MRI machine- all these offer the eyes a pleasing view wherever one looks. It is this sort of expansive creativity and attention to detail that can benefit any branding campaign, from small to large.

At Drive Branding we like to keep in mind every aspect of the customer’s experience when creating a branding campaign. A successful branding campaign does not end in the office, it starts in the positive experiences of the consumers.