What’s That Smell? Branding!
If we get to spend enough time with a client, we invariably help them build their brand. Often seen as a dirty word in retail, branding means nothing more than sticking out, of having an identity (good or bad). If you stick out versus the competition, if you’re known for something, you eventually get to cash in on the strength of your brand and spend less money on marketing. You will have, as they say, arrived.
Your brand will have both visual and audible identity. The visual will come from a consistent (representative) color scheme, a logo, and a tagline. Audibly, you’ll be using a consistent voice, a unique identifying sound (maybe something like the “bing” that Southwest Airlines uses before it tells me I’m free to move about the country). And certainly a jingle.
We’ve paid off two of the five senses so far to establish a brand, hitting the eyes and the ears with a consistent message. What about smell? Should your brand have a smell? In a great article written by Jennifer Dublino, on one of my favorite, wonky marketing websites, she reminds us that many companies are successfully tying a smell to their brand as well. If you’ve been to a mall, you’ve likely been assaulted by the youthful smell wafting out of Abercrombie and Fitch. Hotels have been adopting smells as well, evoking feelings of relaxation or tranquility. Smell is, in many ways, the King of the Senses Jungle. It triggers memory and emotion at a rate exponentially higher than sight and sound.
If you’re an automotive retailer, should you have a smell attached to your brand? Some not-so-serious suggestions follow.
You’re a Ford store in deer hunting country: Cedar and bourbon?
You’re a Scion store in a bustling metro: A bunch of the Abercrombie scent? Weed?
You’re an aging Chevy store in a run-down part of town: I’m thinking lunch pail?
You’re a Land Rover Store in the suburbs: Gotta be tanned leather and Veuve Clicquot?
You’re a Mitsubishi store on the wrong side of town: Gunpowder?
You’re a Suzuki store, um, anywhere: Does silence have a smell?
Before we’d suggest a client add a smell to their brand, we’d probably want to be sure the branding basics were fully covered first. Still, it would be fun.