Psycho-Sensory Ways to Create a Memorable Brand Experience

Applying Psychological Principles and Sensory Science to Branding

What Comes First and What Comes Last Matters Most

Leverage the primacy and recency effects by creating a positive initial experience (primacy) and by always concluding a customer interaction with a strong finish (recency). People tend to remember what happens at the beginning and at the end of an experience instead of what happens in the middle.

Provide Small Surprises

Surprise and delight your customers with simple, unexpected perks or gifts that don’t cost too much to provide. These stand out from the category script – the mental expectations that customers form about a particular brand’s category, such as hotel stays, bank transactions, plane trips, etc.

Make It Tempting and Alluring

There is a reason why aesthetic beauty and sexiness sells. People have a cognitive bias that causes more attractive things (both products and people) to be automatically imbued with more positive assessments. In other words, beautiful and sexy things receive “extra credit.” Remember how the pretty people in high school were given more accolades as well as greater leniency? Sorry, but it’s true not only in high school, but also throughout life and all over the world. Another reason for making your brand experience more tempting is that people have been proved to be less resistant to temptation than they think they actually are. Ever wonder why there’s so much online clickbait? Because it works.

Make It Consistent With the Brand

The brand experiences you offer must conform to your brand’s DNA. Just as Disney wouldn’t release a film intended for an adult audience under the Disney brand, your brand experience must make sense and feel comfortable to those who know and love your brand.

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Make It Rhyme, Make It Chime

Subconsciously, people perceive messages that rhyme or flow especially well, or are delivered with a pleasing cadence, as more accurate and truthful than other messages.

Always Frame Your Messages Positively

We have an innate bias to process positive information and avoid processing negative information. That’s the reason for “whole” milk as opposed to “full-fat” milk, or “85 percent lean” ground chuck versus “15 percent fat” ground chuck. Couch your message in a positive frame and avoid a negative frame. Psychological research shows that positive framing is three times more effective than negative framing.

Make It Multisensory

People are sensory creatures, and while vision dominates the other senses in human beings, smells strongly affect our moods and emotions, and appropriate sounds and music have the ability to amplify our experiences significantly. People best recall experiences that are multisensory.

Consider Timing of Brand Experiences Carefully

The closer people get to achieving a goal or reward, the more involved, interested and receptive they become. Psychologists call this the goal-gradient effect. Whenever possible, coordinate brand experiences with brand goal-reward milestones as the brand experiences will be perceived and remembered more vividly.

Make It Detailed, Specific and Personal

People believe that specific information is more truthful, accurate and authentic than general and less precise information. So, either make your brand experiences more detailed or share personal brand stories of specific individuals (e.g., testimonials). People are most likely to remember something they can relate to, so the more you can personalize the brand experience the better.

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Frank Schab
An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.

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