The Subtle Seductions of Scent Branding

The Subtle Seductions of Scent Branding

Imagine, after that stressful day at work you’re finally ready for a relaxing bath with your new favorite cup of herbal tea. The bath salt has colored the water in a purple hue, the temperature of the water feels just right, the tea tastes great and the subtle sound of the burning candle is very soothing. Ever since you came back from your last holiday you’ve made this into a ritual on those exceptionally stressful days as it instantly takes you back to a calming place.

But how is that? To answer this questions we‘re allowed to be a bit nosy. There’s something essential missing in this scenario of course; the smells of the lavender scented bath salt, the ginger tea aroma and the lemongrass scented candle. Of the five senses, the sense of smell is quite unique in the way that it directly links to the part of the brain that processes emotions and memories. You smell something and in an instant you are right back at that special time and place.

The hotel that sold you these products from its exclusive spa collection is of course fully aware of this effect. If you’re being exposed to their scents on your rewardingly relaxing holiday you will likely associate this sensory experience with something positive and peaceful. In turn, the products you bring home with you from the hotel will reinforce and remind you of this feeling. As such, next time you need to get away from the hustle and bustle, one specific hotel is fresh in memory…

Now imagine the same scents being diffused across the premises of a two-star moulded, rundown city basement hotel. Obviously, you wouldn’t get the same positive associations next time you were exposed to the same smells. In other words, scent branding can only positively reinforce and elevate the brand experience where the rest is right.

Choosing a scent for your brand is a science in itself. The scent needs to be pleasant and relevant, subtle not overpowering, unique yet somehow familiar and simply put – fit to the surroundings (you wouldn’t have a sweet candy-floss scent at a car dealer’s, would you?) Finding this balance is key, because if done right, scent branding – creating a olfactory logo for your brand – is an extremely impactful element of a holistic brand experience.

So next time you walk into Dubai Mall, a 5 star hotel or on your next flight, be aware of  those subtle scents seducing you to swipe and spend again and again…



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