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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Martin Lindstrom on Brands at FMI

We saw Martin Lindstrom author of the book BrandSense speak at FMI. Have read this book, but this is the first time I had heard him speak. He is quite dynamic, moving through the audience and up and down from the stage. That can be fun, but also a bit distracting, making you swivel your neck just a few times too often. He uses lots of slides, but fairly few words on them. Lindstrom also has a useful site. which has videos on brand building and you can sign up for a newsletter.

Lindstrom's pitch is all about how all the senses are important to brands. I have been exposed to lots of research about using all the senses in retail environments, so I very much like his proposition. All senses are important, but some are harder to control than others. Sight, for example is something we use often, and we can readily manipulate brand images using vision. Many of Lindstrom's examples use aspects of color and form.

He also suggests that we often have 'Proustian' episodes where the smell of environments profoundly influences us, modified by age and perhaps when and where we grew up. I have seen where the smells of environments have been used to establish convincing contexts. Still, this kind of control is very different, the way broad emotional state is different from making calculated decisions. I would suggest it's often barely controllable at all. While we have learned how to control sounds in three dimensions, smell is often at the mercy of air conditioning systems.

Lindstrom shows many brand examples, and how aspects of smell, taste, sound and vision (but not often touch) are increasingly being used to define a brand. And also how the most successful brands are defined by multiple senses. Lindstrom has also developed a simple graphical means to show the contribution of each of the senses. In some of his site videos he mentions some of the neuromarketing analysis being done with fmri brain scans, but that was not mentioned in the talk. He did not include any background about the statistics he references, such as how .. smell effects us up to 75% more than any other sense ... .

I think there is much to be done in utilizing all the senses in the definition of brands, and also in how brands are linked to marketing and merchandising. Lindstrom show lots of examples, and constructs a means to broadly analyze the influence of the senses. I did not come away with much understanding of what to really do to fully utilize all the senses. There is still much to do to get that place, it does not appear the problem has been solved beyond finding intriguing examples.

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