Think about someone who you know very well. Now think about what makes them special. Got it? Of course traits like their personality and sense of humour will pop into your mind. Even so, I’m sure if you stop to think about it (or perhaps, you’ve already done so) you’ll also remember their scent fresh out of the shower, their voice during that conversation on the beach or the texture of their skin during a hug.
Yet, how are we able to perceive all of these things and remember them as if we were right in front of the person? Our senses are tools which, through their organs, allow us to receive a series of stimuli from our surroundings that once processed by our brain, are turned into sensations. These sensations are memorable and help us to build our personal relationship with the world around us and form specific impressions about it.
Specific impressions. Let’s look at that in more depth. Imagine we know Marco, a person characterised by having a warm tone of voice, who acts shy and introverted, and often has a scent tending towards sweet. The sum of all this leads us to forming a very specific impression of him, but what happens if one day our friend suddenly reacts violently to an argument during a debate and pushes over the table? We could probably chalk it up to a bad day, but surely our specific impression of him will be affected.
However, what if this situation continues over time and furthermore it’s accompanied by a new fragrance that’s tougher as well as a raspy voice (like Christian Bale’s in The Dark Knight)? We might think that we were wrong (or that he has a screw loose) and our specific impression of Marco permanently changes.
This is where brands enter the picture. This is because we can clearly form impressions about them. However, the sum of the factors adds up in the same way and depends on those impressions, so the same thing that happened with Marco doesn’t happen to them. This is because in order to convey the pure essence of the brand it’s essential for it to be coherent and consistent at all times. Impressions alone aren’t useful for brands. They need to be specific.
Let me explain. Imagine Harley Davidson created an area for its community with the goal of teaching them to repair its motorcycles. Would it make sense for it to smell like jasmine or lavender? If we’re loyal to the brand then, no it wouldn’t. Harley Davidson is a brand with a smell of leather, oak and spices. Even though the smell of the place might seem like an insignificant detail, in an age where people are overwhelmed by information, brands have to take advantage of any opportunity and interaction with people to build their unique identity. Remember: as we’ve already seen, a scent is a powerful element, capable of instantly bringing back memories, people and sensations.
So, although it’s true that brands have been working for a while now on the sense of smell, this year has definitely been the year of the sense of sound thanks to the explosion of home based voice assistants. Siri (an old acquaintance of Apple that’s also moving into its users homes), Alexa (Amazon) and Cortana (Microsoft) are clear examples of this boom.
The development has opened an exciting new stage for brands. From now on each of them must have a defined voice (woman or man? sweet or low?), in addition to their own special vocabulary and way of reacting and a behaviour reflecting their personality. Since if they want to be unique and connect with their audience, it shouldn’t be the same to speak to Apple as it is to speak to Amazon.
In fact, this debate will begin to take place in the near future (if it hasn’t already) in the upper echelons for all types of brands, because despite the fact that Siri, Alexa or Cortana have led this revolution, voice assistants are a reality that is already moving into other areas. Evo is one such example, which has just launched its voice assistant to help its customers to prepare their budgets.
In all of this, the implementation of artificial intelligence has been of the utmost importance in the day to day life of the brands, leading to a new degree of brand-person relations. Over time, we’ve gone from a stage with a one-way relationship between brands and individuals to the current situation where the relationship is two-way and where the personality of the brand can already be perceived by being constructed through human behaviour. The current goal seems to be to make brands as human as possible so they can establish even deeper emotional ties with their users.
Yet this is only just beginning, the technology opens up endless questions: will we create humanoids that personify the brands governed by their values and personality? Will they have sensors acting like our senses so that they can feel, form their own opinions and react according to them? Will they accompany us at all times providing added value, interacting with us proactively? (like they tell Joaquin Phoenix in” Her”) At some point will we see TV debates with humanoid brands sharing their purposes and their different perspectives on the world?
The answers to these questions (somewhat worrying and uncertain) could only be known if we had a DeLorean, but there is something we can be sure of: regardless of how much time goes by and the technology that appears, to form a specific impression of a brand it is and will be totally necessary to stay loyal to it regardless of the circumstances in order to avoid it fading away.
Who knows, perhaps in the future (supposing new advances also let us live to be over a hundred), if you start reading an article on our blog and some guy called Adri Sanz from The Mood Project asks you to think about what makes someone who’s very well-known unique, the first thing you do is remember their scent, their voice and the texture of their skin… of your favourite brand.