“Is that a dryer sheet I smell?”

That’s what I asked myself as I sat on a rental car shuttle bus, going from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to a massive off-site car rental depot. Very interesting, I thought. Fragrance branding. And it worked on me. It made my ride much more pleasant than, say, the odor of gas fumes and sweaty tourists.

Sensory appeal is human appeal. And it attracts people to your brand. A nice fragrance on the shuttle bus was unexpected. And I’ll remember it—because smell is one of our strongest senses, processed by the most reptilian part of our brain. A certain smell can bring back a flood of memories. Maybe it’s the fragrance of lilacs in the spring. Apples in the fall. Or Juicy Fruit gum after school.

Ever walk through the casinos in Vegas? Some smell good. Some smell, um, like casinos. But open the doors at the Venetian, and you’re flooded with a signature fragrance. Your reaction is immediate and visceral. Most of the casinos use fragrancing systems, but the Venetian really stands out.

Obviously, smell plays a critical roll in perfumes, colognes, health and beauty products, and food and beverage brands. Retailers and car manufacturers have discovered the power of fragrance branding, too. (That new car smell? Yep, it’s bottled.) But it’s where you don’t expect it that it can have the biggest impact. Your office for example. Why shouldn’t the whole building smell like the C-Suite? Or what about the computer you’re reading this blog on? Why couldn’t it have a cool, techy smell infused in the plastic? And what’s the deal with wall paint? Couldn’t it have a nice lingering fragrance after the paint smell goes away? Fragrances could be matched to colors. Mocha really would smell like Mocha!

When you’re developing your brands, don’t miss out on what could be a key differentiating factor. It’s right under your nose.

Michael Friend

Author Michael Friend

Michael is the founder and Chief Branding Officer of Experra Branding Group, LLC, a brand consultancy that works exclusively with printing, imaging, product identification, converting and substrate technology companies to deliver short-term results and long-term value. He’s a brand strategist, business consultant and creative director with a passion for helping his global enterprise clients leverage the power of branding to crystallize corporate positioning, launch differentiated products, improve business processes and increase sales.

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