Why You Need a Scent Logo
Guest Post by Jennifer Dublino
All marketers are familiar with the concept of a logo, a visual representation of a brand. Some, like Coca Cola, Disney, Apple and Nike are so iconic that exposure to them, even when they aren’t noticed, affects our behavior. For these large companies with their massive marketing budgets, it is fairly easy to expose large numbers of people to their logo and brand identity. As a result, their brand recall is close to 100% throughout a good part of the world.
But what about small and medium-sized companies? The average person is exposed to up to 5,000 ads a day. How can you get customers to remember your brand with all this clutter?
The surprising answer is through the sense of smell.
The sense of smell is the only one of our five senses that is directly connected to the part of the brain that processes emotion, memory and associated learning. In fact, you are 100 times more likely to remember something that you smell than something that you see, hear or touch.
Savvy marketers utilize this fact by creating an olfactory logo for their business. An olfactory logo, also called scent branding, is a custom scent that the brand creates to embody its unique brand characteristics. Much like a graphic logo, the olfactory logo is used wherever the brand is present. After repeated exposures to the olfactory logo, the smell becomes strongly associated with that brand.
In order to work, the signature scent needs to be consistent with the image and emotions of the brand. Think about the personality of your brand. Is your brand reliable and trustworthy or edgy and fun? Is your brand relaxed or power charged? Also think about your target market. Are they young, middle-aged or older? Predominantly male or female? Value or luxury buyers? These characteristics can be successfully matched with different fragrance elements to create a scent that embodies your brand characteristics.
A highly successful use of scent branding is Abercrombie & Fitch. Their signature fragrance, Fierce, is dispersed in high concentrations in all of their stores. Fierce is strong, edgy and appeals to young, upscale consumers. The result? Fierce (which is also sold as a personal fragrance) is the number one selling fragrance for men in the US and Europe and A&F’s teenage and young adult target market can easily identify authentic A&F jeans solely by their smell.
Most of the major hotel chains also use an olfactory logo. For example, the Westin uses a cool and relaxing white tea fragrance, and the St. Regis uses an elegant blend of rose, sweet pea and pipe tobacco.
Once you have created your signature scent, use it in every possible customer touchpoint, so that it can become associated closely with your brand in the customer’s mind. If you have a hotel, store, spa or other location for your business, you can use a scent diffuser to disperse the fragrance in the air. Companies producing packaged goods can incorporate the scent into their packaging. Then, to spur repeat sales, use the scent in direct mail to remind customers of their positive experience with your brand.
Before you know it, your brand will be top of mind, and the aroma you detect will be the sweet smell of success!
Interesting article in terms of highlighting this fact, nonetheless, the information is not new. When I worked at the Coca-Cola Company (about ten years ago) we produced lots of materials from event tickets to POP materials involving olfactory sense (particularily for Coke and Fanta). Again, sometimes marketing guys rediscover or start paying attention to certain facts as they are new—which sometimes open up some doors to see or to experience them from a new perspective.
Oz, you are right about some marketers having understood the power of scent marketing years ago. Surprisingly, though, many just don’t think about it – even those that have the opportunity to use scent in a product or environment. Martin Lindstrom’s Brand Sense book showed some standout firms engaged in sensory marketing, and some that missed the boat.
Jennifer, I’ve always been amazed by how certain scents can uncover long-forgotten memories and emotions — either good or bad. Your piece also reminds me of my teenage years, growing up in Brazil. While sharing dating do’s and don’ts with other teen girls in my school, I got this piece of advice: Have a signature scent. Sounds like they were on to something!
Andrea, the idea of “personal branding” was introduced just a few years ago… but the reality of a personal brand has been around forever! 🙂
Interesting that Coke has been into scent marketing for a while. It makes sense since their formula is all based on scent. Try this – put a blindfold on and close your nose up. Drink Coke and Sprite – you won’t be able to tell the difference. Most companies, however, neglect the sense of smell when it comes to using it strategically in their marketing and they are really passing up an opportunity to distinguish their brands from the competition and tap into scent-aided recall. One of the speakers at our upcoming ScentWorld conference, Dr. Maureen Morrin, will be talking about how scent plays a role in consumers’ memories of brands and product information.
As you’ve pointed out scent branding can be highly effective. From hotels and spas to automobiles and even consumers electronics scent provides huge opportunity. One reason that scent is obviously the olfactory receptors being so primal, another being that unlike with logos, vision is active. You can choose not to look at something by closing your eyes or by looking elsewhere. Scent is passive. You can’t choose not to smell something without holding your nose, and that’s not always effective.
If you control the space you have opportunity. if you have no control over the space you could have problems. Part of the reason that scent branding is so effective is that it’s not very popular. If it were, we would likely be overwhelmed as a multitude of mismatched orders combine into a single noxious super stench.This isn’t the case with names, logos, colors, etc… Just as flavors don’t always go together, scents would be likely to suffer the same fate if everyone jumps on the scent branding wagon.
Jennifer – I’m curious … have you seen any of the bigger brands you mentioned (i.e. the major hotel chains) using remarketing as a branding tool?
Meaning are you – or other scent marketers – using remarketing either to reinforce a brand’s scent via multiple exposures or by rotating ads on sites that sell fragrances consistent with their scent?
Scent marketing is an intriguing concept – and one I think makes sense for a lot of brands. Thanks for going beyond the online marketing echo chamber and introducing something new.
Mark, you’re absolutely right that if everyone simultaneously used ambient scent in the same area, it would not be pleasant. However, there are a number of scent delivery technologies other than ambient scenting which allow for a much more controlled and temporary (quickly dissipating) scent experience, allowing for multiple marketers potentially using scent without encroaching on each other. Sam, great question. The ultimate in terms of effectiveness is for the brand to reinforce and consistently use the scent in multiple touch points, but most companies are not at that level in their utilization of scent marketing. It will come, as they realize what a powerful and cost effective strategy it is, though.
I’m aware of a number of techniques, although likely not all. I’m interested in learning more, as it relevant to a project we’re currently working on.
Jenifer if I may as everyone here has stated the scent marketing was there all along and it is not something new. Then how come I’ve never heard of this term until now. Although I know that marketing is unique field that see many new techniques every now and then. However, scent marketing…really!! I don’t really understand what you are trying to establish here.
I understand the great importance of logos as they are imprinted on banners, wrappers..just to name the few. As far as what I conceived through this article here is that scent marketing is limited not as wide as promoting a brand through logo. Plz enlighten me why scent marketing could be a critical factor in promoting a brand.
Hi, Alex. For many years, scent marketing has been under the radar, since companies didn’t want to let competitors know about this highly effective strategy. As I said in the post, scent has a unique ability to connect to the emotional and memory centers of the brain, and as such can be deployed strategically to help elicit strong memories of a brand and its attributes, or to help shoppers relax and have a more enjoyable and longer shopping experience in which they buy more. There are many other applications, depending on what the product or service is. If you like, you can give me an example, and I can give you very specific ways that you can use scent in marketing.
I read this article and was thinking that it doesn’t apply to my business but maybe I’m wrong. As a printer we would add a sent to our printed products and when it’s opened by our customers it would evoke some kind of emotion…like gratitude. The question then is, what is that scent? Also, does it go too far because the printing might be marketing pieces for our clients businesses?
Like Alex, the concept of “scent logo” is completely new to me. But after going through this complete post I am surprised that I was missing a lot even after being in logo and graphic design industry. Thanks for keeping us update.
As an aromatherapist and botanical perfumer of 20 years, I understand the power of smell and how it evokes past memories, uplifts our emotions, strengthens the Nervous system and more.
It never ceases to amaze me!
Working with true botanical aroma’s is so exciting! Keeping in mind that not only can smell trigger a past positive experience (or negative), the healing affects emotionally and psychologically are very real.
I will leave you with my favourite quote by Helen Keller ~ Smell is the potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived…
Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing that, Juiie!
“Smell is the potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived…” @Julie – I love that quote, it’s so applicable to our industry!
I wonder how you can tell if a scent logo is being effective? I guess you would gather feedback from you customers but you can’t ask them specifically if they like/dislike the new aroma in the store can you? I own a small to medium sized store in a shopping mall…thanks
Hi, Matt. That is a very good question. Just like any other piece of branding, it’s not so easy to measure the ROI of a scent logo. The way we evaluate it is by keeping careful track of sales and foot traffic in a period before the scent was introduced and compare it to after. You can also survey your customers before and after scent implementation by asking them questions like: How would you rate the store’s atmosphere? How would you rate the helpfulness of the salespeople? How likely are you to return to the store? How likely are you to purchase from the store? Although it’s not a conscious thing, scent impacts customer perception in many different areas that would seem to have nothing to do specifically with the way the store smells.