Harnessing Your Consumers’ Five Senses

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Zamin Dharsi, Head Of Marcomms

What exactly is a brand?

For many people outside of the design world (and some within), a brand is more or less limited to the way your organisation identifies itself visually.

This usually translates into a logo and if you’re lucky, a corporate colour or two.

But a brand is so much more than that.

To put it simply – a brand is all the ways in which you connect with your audiences five senses. It is the way in which you assert an emotional connection and how you create a peripheral response.

So a good place to start is by showcasing all 5 senses and identifying which brand elements connect with each sense.

  1. Sight: The visual elements of your brand, what does it look like
  2. Sound: If your brand was a person, what would it sound like? What is its tone of voice?
  3. Taste: What do your products taste like? If you’re a non-food and beverage brand, what could your brand taste like?
  4. Smell: Does your brand have a signature scent?
  5. Touch: How does your brand feel?

Your objective is to appeal to as many of these five senses as possible. By doing so, your brand can deliver an emotional, sensory and more memorable experience.

You may be thinking that for some brands it may not always be possible for to hit all five senses. For example, a restaurant should have little problem creating a signature taste, while a cosmetic’s brand touch or smell forms part of the product in many cases.

But what about a corporate brand – how would they appeal to all five senses – especially smell and taste?

Although it gets more complex and abstract, it is necessary to dig deeper into each element of the brand.

Take Emirates for example. Yes they’re an airline, and while they provide food on their flights and sell duty free fragrances, these are their core offerings. They could have easily ignored some of the their consumer’s five sense, believing they don’t apply to an airline – but they didn’t.

  1. Sight: Emirates’ logo is always bright and clearly visible, whether it’s on the tail of their aircraft or staff uniforms. And ask any child which colours represent the airline and they’ll tell you red and beige without hesitation.
  2. Sound: Emirates has placed great emphasis into developing a memorable sonic logo. Any time you board one of their planes or engage with them on TV or video, you’ll be greeted by the now unmistakable tune composed by Christian Saglie.
  3. Taste: Emirates strives for consistency and the highest standards in everything it does, and despite some of the challenges of preparing and serving food at 35,000 feet+, its onboard food is no exception.
  4. Smell: Ah, this one’s my favourite. Have you ever boarded a flight and before takeoff, the cabin crew comes around with an air-freshener? From the soaps in the bathroom to the scent of the hot towels – everything on board your Emirates flights has one, consistent, scent that subconsciously reinforces that you are on an Emirates flight.
  5. Touch: This one is a bit more complex, but I would argue that the comfort of the seats and feel of the pillows, blanket and socks reinforce a certain level of quality that you’ve come to expect from the brand.

When it comes to defining your brand, you need to create a concept that stays with people – one they’ll remember. However, many merely advertise to just one sense – sight.

Think about every major, successful brand and you’ll realise that each one has identified and clearly defined how their brand fits in to the five senses.

Let me know below how your brand ensures it appeals to the five senses.


Zamin Dharsi is the Head of Marcomms for Alsayegh Media. Winner of a MEPRA Award for his campaign for Jaguar LandRover, Zamin was recently featured in Campaign Magazine as one of 30 under 30 to watch in the MENA advertising industry. In his spare time, he likes collecting materials for DIY projects he will never complete.