Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

I don’t think so. Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. And sometimes you just need to lay off the Kool-Aid!

Increasingly, advertisers are fixated on visual media when communicating their brand’s message. In fact, according to Martin Lindstrom (author of Buyology) we are now more visually over-stimulated than any other period in human history. At the outset, this might not seem so counterintuitive. After all, we can see our TV spots, magazine insertions and display ads. And, if everyone is doing it, something must be working – right?

We can do better than this.

Fundamentally, brands jockey for space in a consumer’s consideration set. This is not the same as competing for visual space. Given the amount of clutter in visual environments, the logical way forward for brands is to be heard, felt, and yes – even smelt and tasted. Making a bigger impression sometimes requires challenging conventional wisdom.

A 2003 Millward Brown study that surveyed men and women aged 25-40 across 13 countries found that multiple senses interact to drive brand choice and that multi-sensory approaches are more memorable than those focusing largely on images and text. Brands with sensory depth are strong brands.

Interestingly, the study also found that touch, taste, smell and sound are primary drivers of loyalty and purchase consideration; with sight playing a supporting role. If consumers have multiple learning styles, brands should have multiple sensory approaches too.

At Media Experts, we factor in sensory allocations when planning media. Depending on a campaign’s objective and timing, managing GRPs helps us determine a recommended weight level across OOH, Radio and TV media. It would be useful however to have a comparable tool for managing share of sight in print media to help brands avoid burnout and become eyesores.

I would even argue that word-of-mouth is so powerful – not just because the referrer is usually an influence, but because it engages multiple senses simultaneously. Incidentally, this is also why there are real limitations to digital social media – true ‘social’ behaviour always involves rich human level interaction.

Smart marketers are thinking beyond visual means to put their brands forward and have been doing so for a while now. BMW is the Ultimate Driving Experience – everything from the way the steering wheel feels to how the engine roars is deliberately designed. Car manufacturers also use sound dampeners to engineer the sound of a door closing, making the vehicle appear secure and luxurious. Research shared by Jeff Vidler at Vision Critical confirms the power of sound as a branding tool. Of those introduced to the sound (ba-rum-pa-pa-pa) 68% were able to correctly identify it as the McDonald’s chime.

Brand managers are thinking beyond the logo –everything from sound identities to scented retail stores – the Holy Grail being a consistent experience across all customer touch points. Media should follow suit, after all – it only makes sense!