Scents for Experiential Marketing: How Does Your Brand Smell?

Using scents for experiential marketing

As experiential marketers, we’re not ones to turn our noses up at a new way to improve the experience of a trade show exhibit. Of our five senses, our visual and audio faculties get the most play in our media-saturated world — unless you happened into a screening of John Waters’ film “Polyester” in the early 80s and got your nose on an “Odorama” scratch-and-sniff card. Is there any sense in using scents for experiential marketing?  

The Sense of Scents for Experiential Marketing

Yes, according to the American Marketing Association. Studies indicate up to a 40 percent improvement in mood when one is exposed to a pleasant fragrance. People are naturally inclined to spend more time in places when they feel good, which is why scented environments have been shown to cause an increase in “linger time.”

This is old news to Aroma 360, a scent marketing and branding company that practices “The Art of Scenting.”

“By creating a scent that can be tied to a memorable time, a brand can make a customer connect its scent to a positive experience. This way, each time the scent is detected it will evoke enjoyable memories tied to that scent and associate that brand with these good feelings,” explains Meghan McMahon, chief marketing officer of the Florida-based company.

Naturally, the creative process for developing a unique scent is as nuanced and complex a process as any exercise in branding — in some ways even more so.

“Developing a Signature Scent is an intricate and in-depth creative process that involves comprehensive research and a thorough examination of a brand so that our clients can succeed with their customer experience management,” says McMahon. “Everything from the brand architecture: personality, character, strategy, guidelines, experience, imagery, as well as the history, geographical footprint, target demographic, products and services, values, inspiration, customer reflection, desired emotional response, and more, are studied and translated into a one-of-a-kind scent that is the embodiment of the brand.”

Branding an Aroma

After such an investment, the question looms — can a branded scent be protected the way a logo or sound mark can be?

“Getting a scent trademarked is a very difficult process to get approved as well as to enforce,” says McMahon, who points to only 13 scents currently achieving trademark status in the US with the latest inductee “being everybody’s favorite and most recognizable childhood scent — Play-Doh!” McMahon is quick to add, however, that just because a scent isn’t “trademarkable” doesn’t mean that it isn’t “brandable.”

Indeed, adding a scent to your trade show exhibit could enhance some of your brand’s existing equity.

“The connection between our sense of smell and our emotions is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to heighten brand image and strengthen loyalty,” says McMahon.

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