Free Sensory Branding for Hospitality Seminar, London 8th November 6.15pm

Exploring Super-additivity

Using multiple senses to enhance the customer experience and drive brand loyalty is something that the hotel and hospitality sector has started actively exploring.

This is a special invitation to hear an expert in this field, Simon Harrop, CEO of BRANDsense and founder of The Aroma Company, talk about how we can create a special type of interior atmosphere using aroma, and experience for yourself the power of the senses through a unique Sensagram exercise.

If you would like to attend, please click here to register

Hope to see you there.

Sensory Branding Masterclass at the Museum of Brands 6 Feb 2017

Join me as I host a Sensory Branding Masterclass at The Museum of Brands in London after work at The Museum of Brands in London after work at 6.30pm on Monday the 6th February 2017.

What you will learn
•Learn what makes a brand and how consumer experiences are built across multiple senses
•Discover the over-reliance on visual brand equity and why, for the senses, 1+1=3
•Use a framework for analysing the sensory impact of your brand (against your competition) and identifying opportunities
•Learn techniques, using sensory stimuli, to develop sensory-emotional brand drivers
•Be introduced to development tools to consider sensory brand staging, brand authenticity and brand dramatization
•Consider research methodologies which give real insight into emotional response to sensory brand attributes
•Experience ways to use your sensory brand equities in the total customer experience
•Explore a framework to measure the ROI on your sensory brand activity

Throughout this inter-active evening we will make reference to museum exhibits to help us discuss activation ideas, consider industry best practice and be inspired by great case studies.

Places are filling fast but tickets at just £48 can be booked via:

The Museum of Brands is a fantastic venue 2 minutes walk from Ladbroke Grove Tube Station.

Hope to see you there!

Wow! The world’s first truly multi-sensory, 5 dimensional media !!

Aroma Halo2chanelhalo4Simon

Now here’s a real world first!

We have partnered with a US-based manufacture to develop and build the world’s first truly multi-sensory, five dimensional media opportunity.

AromaHalo is a self-contained, ceiling suspended advertising system which projects a brand’s fragrance and imagery downwards in high-footfall public spaces creating a truly immersive brand experience. As shoppers, or leisure venue guests, pass through the space, they are stopped in their tracks by the subtle but distinctive aroma of the brand which is linked to visuals projected onto the floor and on the back-lit AromaHalo lantern. Directional sound which also ‘speaks’ the message will be incorporated soon.

We supply the AromaHalo to supermarkets, shopping centres, airports, train stations, cinemas, leisure centres – in fact just about any public space. We work with the brand to agree the appropriate period and rate-card, installing the graphics and fragrance. The space owner benefits from a totally new revenue stream from space that would otherwise generate no revenue at all. The brand benefits from a totally immersive brand experience which engages sight, smell (and sound), driving awareness, trial, increased sales and brand loyalty.

Early tests have proved overwhelmingly positive and we are working with a few innovative retailers and shopping centres to conduct early trials, collecting data and analysing the impact. I’ll be sure to post the results when we have them.

In the meantime, if you represent the owners of high-footfall public spaces, are a brand for whom the scent, aroma or taste are a significant part of the brand equity, or are you a potential media partner or investor, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

At last the term ‘New Media’ actually means something, rather than just the migration of 2 dimensional visual advertising from TV to the internet!



A stinky beard to get kids reading

I’ll never forget the day Roald Dhal came to speak at my school prize day.

The school was in Amersham, near to where he lived and wrote most of his wonderful books. He was enigmatic, characterful and engaging and he had 600 or so boys in rapt hysterics for nearly an hour. He was telling us about the benefits of having a beard, one of which was as a place to catch and store little bits of food, in case he ever got hungry between meals.

Nearly 40 years later, things have come full circle.

After leaving school and studying business and marketing at University, it wasn’t long before my maverick and creative personality, inspired perhaps in part by Roald Dahl, led me to start my first business, The Aroma Company, of which I am hugely proud.

The Aroma Company is one of the world leaders in engaging consumers of branded products through the immensely emotional and evocative sense of smell. We’ve quietly been getting on with this work for over 25 years, working behind the scenes with some of the world’s leading brands.

Once in a while we get involved in some slightly more unusual projects. When Penguin Books approached us to help with the creation of a smelly version of Roald Dahl’s the twits, naturally we were delighted to help!

I hope that this project might inspire and encourage a few more young children to discover the pleasures and benefits of reading, just like Roald Dahl inspired me all those years ago.

sensory branding in China?

Sensory Branding in China?

Next week I am in Shanghai, the powerhouse of the vibrant new Chinese economy. I have visited Bejing several times but this is my first time to Shanghai. I am speaking and acting as Chair at the Chinese Food and Beverage Industry Forum.

I am very much looking forward to the trip on two levels. Firstly, my grandparents lived in Shanghai for 20 years in the 1920’s and 1930’s, escaping with their lives during the Japanese invasion in 1937. Chinese culture was very much a part of visiting my grandparents as a child.

Secondly, there is sometimes a perception – a false one I believe – that the Chinese have things to learn from ‘the West’ about marketing and branding. There may be things – new approaches, new ideas – that we can share with them but I suspect that, with humility and an open mind, there is plenty that we can learn from their deeply rooted culture and the ways in which it impacts upon how they do business.

I shall be talking about the innovative field of sensory branding – linking a brand’s promise to what the customer experiences, across all five senses – and because I am a pioneer in this field, I hope it is something new that I am sharing with them.

But you never know, I may find that they have been working this way intuitively for years but have never seen fit to come up with a label for it.

I’ll let you know how I am received and what I learn.

Sensory Innovation in Print

Just back from a speaking engagement at a print industry conference. Apart from being a great bunch of people, The Independent Print Industry Association are looking to the future.

Far from the doom and gloom that those blindly wedded to a single-channel, digital brand strategy might expect, the print industry is positively buzzing with confidence and ideas. And so they should be.

The best brand communications and marketing strategies are integrated. i.e. they benefit from the efficiencies AND effectiveness of multiple media and channels. (see a previous post on the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness, don’t confuse them). Not only this, research we carried out for the Royal Mail some years ago – using fMRI brain scanning to look inside the human brain and observe emotions – revealed that an identical brand messages was far more emotionally impactful and memorable on a piece of printed paper than on a digital screen.

And for brand communications 1+1 really does equal 3, what psychologists call super-additivity. As you add senses, you add emotions.

The print industry are canny enough to know this. There are some amazing innovations on paper that you can smell, paper that lights up and carries printed batteries and even printed video. And why not the first lickable print you might ask? Well yes, there’s that too!

As usual it’s the smaller, challenger brands that are likely to have the creativity and imagination to adopt some of these ideas first. But if you are interested, give me a call or send me an in-mail and I’ll gladly point you in the right direction.

Is Sensory Branding moving mainstream? Yes, according the BBC’s Watchdog!

Ok I admit it. For the last 8 years or so, while we have languished in one of the deepest recessions in living memory, my passion, my driving force and my commercial raison-d’etre, has been bogged down left-field.

For over 20 years I have been quietly practicing and innovating, in the once arcane world of engaging consumers with brands by using multiple senses. Without wishing to sound immodest, I am a world-leader in this field. In truth this is an easy claim to make because not only was the sensory branding and marketing field over to the left (left-field), it was also rather a small field. I sometimes felt like a proverbial lone voice in the dessert, extoling the virtues of creating branded experiences which appeal to the emotionally driven senses like sound, smell and touch.

Don’t get me wrong, we have worked on some amazing projects, delivering real client value (doubling revenue and share value in one example) but the brands we have been working with were very much the early adopters.

But, like every innovator, our time will come. Every dog has it’s day. I think mine is on the way!

Two things are coming together to make me feel like an excited surfer about to pick up the biggest of waves and enjoy an amazing ride.

During the recession, there can be no doubt that marketing budgets were slashed. In April 2012 P&G alone announced a cut of $10 billion in its’ marketing spend over 5 years. Yes that’s ten Billion! This was mirrored by one consumer facing brand after another. But consumers kept buying. Especially for essentials like foods and personal care products. The result? Most brands have underinvested in recent years and are sitting on significant cash reserves. And as we come out of the recession there is a very real sense that they are starting to invest again. But where to focus this renewed investment? Where will they get the most bang for their buck?

The second positive factor in this resurgence of interest in sensory branding is the increased acceptance that the old “talk-at”, mass-market communication, TV advertising model no longer works. True, most of this budget has migrated into digital communications (which incidentally remains largely visually based and contributes to yet more visual overload) but there is a growing realisation that the brands that will succeed and grow the most in the new economy will find new and different ways to connect with and engage their customers.

And consumers are wising up.

See  – starting from 17 minutes into the program.

In this new world economy consumers want peer recommendation not corporate advocacy. They expect experiences not features and reasons. They act on emotions not rational.

A sensory approach to brand planning and product or service development leads to emotional brand experiences that everyone wants to share. Join the early adopters, don’t become a laggard.


Building bridges between Brand and R&D

I’m a bit of a fraud!

You see I’m a member of Brand Professional, R&D and Sensory Linked in groups. But I’m not a brand professional, an R&D practitioner or a sensory specialist either. As a sensory branding consultant I sit between all three!

What I HAVE learnt after 25 years experience as a sensory branding consultant, however, is just how different the worlds of R&D and Brand can be. Different departments, usually different buildings, sometimes different countries or continents! Different language and different kinds of people (thank heavens). Often I run workshops and find myself introducing Brand and R&D people from the same company who have never met before.

Some of you may be thinking, “That’s OK. Who wants to listen to the Pepe Jeans and Prada Shoe brigade anyway? All they are interested in is the latest flashy TV ad.”

Those who feel this way may have a point. But believe me, it does matter. We MUST build more bridges between R&D and brand. Truly successful products have to appeal to consumers at a functional or hedonic level AND an emotional or conceptual level. The promise must be aligned to the total customer experience in product, pack and communications.

I know that most of you know this, but it amazes me how often this key area breaks down like a dysfunctional family….. “I don’t care what your sensory panel are saying, it’s not on brand!” “You may have spent a million on your new fat-free brand positioning but it’s not possible to make ice cream without cream!” (It may be, but you get my point).

So whilst I am neither an R&D specialist or a branding expert, I have become very, very good at helping organisations to build bridges between the two, running co-creation workshops and providing simple exercises and frameworks that you can use to work together.

I post and blog on this subject and hope you find some of this thinking helpful in your endeavours build bridges and to create truly successful products/brands.

Digital this. Mobile that. Blah, blah, blah and blah again!

Not since the days of the original dot com bubble, or perhaps the European tulip bulb frenzy of the mid 1600’s, has there been such a headlong rush to one type of commodity, one market or one type of business practice.

Realising that the days of mass market, TV-based, “talk at” advertising were numbered, so may of the big agencies have simply stuck to what they are comfortable with – even thought they couldn’t prove it really worked – and replicated the same old talk-at model. But via digital and mobile media instead.

The result? So much noise, so many bits and bytes, visual overload, information meltdown, brand bland. Blah, blah, blah!

Daily branded visual messages increased by 400% between 1971 and 1997. Imagine that exponential number now! It makes my blood boil when marketers dress up yet another digital or mobile campaign – which nobody cares about – as innovative consumer “engagement”. Really?!

Sure, some might be efficient at getting a share of the “audience” but so often it’s pure vanity to think that a pop up banner or a click through to a website is going to actually be given consideration time, change people’s emotional response to a brand or, more importantly, influence their buying behaviour. Pfaff!

When looking at what drives emotional response to a brand, my colleague, Martin Lindstrom, discovered that the senses were equally important to consumers in the relationship to brands (blue) but that marketing budgets were overspent on visual communications alone (green).

However, this becomes even more significant with a basic appreciation of how we process sensory stimuli in the brain.

The sense of vision is largely processed by the rational part of the brain called the cortex. With so much information bombarding our lives every day, the brain is superbly efficient at totally ignoring the vast majority of the visual stimuli it receives. If it didn’t, our brains would explode. Well, not literally but you get my point. In one ear and out the other.

Touch, sound and particularly smell and taste stimuli are processed by the brain differently. They bypass our cortex, bypass rational thought and lead to a direct instinctual response which affects our feelings and emotions and sticks in our memory.

And in the wider scheme of things, for most brands, a multi-sensory approach to real consumer engagement, through branded sensory experiences, represents free space. Brand unique. Customer love. Advocacy to friends. “Share with” not talk at.

So why is there still this blind belief in all things digital and mobile? Well you can search me. I just don’t get it. Is it fashion? Is it laziness? Or is it the huge vested interest that the big marketing agencies have in feeding their vast operational overheads and which are still firmly stuck in the past?

One thing is for sure, those marketers that have the courage to divert just a small part of their digital, TV and visual marketing budget into branded sensory experiences, which really engage consumers at a deeply emotional level, are seeing staggering results. This is where the real marketing innovators are lurking.

I hope that this post opens up a can of worms ……and that they gobble up the outdated tulip bulbs!

Simon speaks with Dr Paul Baines, professor of Marketing at Cranfield University

This video was published by Oxford University Press as a case study accompaniment to the seminal book, Marketing, by Dr Paul Baines, professor of Marketing at Cranfield University.

I hope you find this snippet enlightening as an overview of some of the basic concepts around Sensory Brand Marketing.

This book can be found on Amazon and covers just about everything the marketing student (and practitioner) needs to know about the subject of marketing. Highly recommended.

  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 3 edition (27 Feb. 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0199659532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199659531
About Simon Harrop
Simon is a sensory branding expert, such an expert in fact that you will often find him popping up on television and radio.

After building an internationally renowned agency focusing on communication through fragrance, he has now gone beyond just the smelly stuff and utilises his extensive sensory branding experience to guide and inspire brands and business owners.
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Contact Simon
If you have any questions about sensory branding then please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

Simon Harrop
Hillard House
Lester Way
Oxon. OX10 9TA

Tel: +44 (0)7899 916331