Smell is alleged to be our strongest sense and will often anchor a strong connection to an emotion, place or person. Some strong ones for me are freshly made toast, a perfume of a person and the smell of a farmyard!
Sheep use their sense of smell to identify their own lambs when, let’s face it, they all look very alike in the early days. The identity in the first few hours is critically important. The ewe makes sure that she is familiar with all the surrounding smells so she can notice all the sensory changes that happen when she gives birth to her lambs.
For the lamb its instinct is to feed as soon as possible after being born. The smell of the ewe’s udder in all the wool drives it to find the teat and get the food to keep it going though the first few hours of its life. The smell is confirmed every time the lambs feed on the ewe and soon they will recognise each other’s bleat and looks.
In the business world, we recognise a company, product or service visually by its logo or appearance or audibly by a jingle or sound – think Intel or Avon. Its smell, however, would over-ride all of this.
Common aromas are related to foods of course eg the smell of freshly made coffee or bread. Either of these can not only lure us into purchasing by tantalising our taste-buds but also prompt an emotion of homeliness or warmth. Some estate agents recommend grilling a coffee bean before showing a house to a prospective buyer!
Indeed we will remember how an environment or experience makes us feel long after the visual/physical impact has worn off. And smell can instantly bring back that feeling.
So the clear identity of a company is imperative not only for the obvious visual recognition but also through all our other senses, especially smell where relevant.
It’s a well-known adage that first impressions count and most often we think about sight and sound. What if we were to think about smell too? If olfactory is our strongest sense, evoking long-lasting memories, doesn’t it make sense (ahem) to be recognised – in a good way – by an aroma associated with our brand, be that as an individual or offering?
Our brands can now easily engage people through sight, sound, words and touch. What next – “smellyvision”?
What smells do you link with which memories – and I wonder if any of them are business-related?