Smell is just as important as all our other senses. So why is it often overlooked when branding a product? Because we can’t pick it up, turn it over in our hands and have a good look at it? Yet, whilst it is overlooked, smell is the most powerful sense we have, argues Christopher Pratt, MD of scent marketing provider ScentAir

How many times have you caught a whiff of a fellow commuter’s perfume, and, in an instant, been taken right back to a time in your life that you hadn’t thought about for years? We all have a favourite smell, or a favourite perfume that we stick to for years. It fits with our personality, our lifestyle and our image – that particular smell evokes something within us that is very personal.

Creating a brand scent is no different. When a hotel manager asks for a scent that reflects the personality of their hotel, or a retailer seeks the perfect aroma for their store, there are many factors to consider – it isn’t a case of adding just any scent. Is the venue elegant, modern or edgy? Does the smell fit with the brand identity?

Where will the scent work best? 

A hotel in particular will want to create a complete experience from the very moment a guest steps over the threshold. ScentAir engages its customers in a deep brand and business imaging process in order to understand their needs and then translate those needs into a fragrance – the process is very collaborative and creative. Naturally, it also ends up being a lot of fun!

It is not uncommon for a hotel to change their scent throughout the course of a year to reflect the seasons or any events that may be happening. It seems obvious that some fragrances work better depending on the season. For example, a cinnamon-based fragrance will work better in the winter, to create a festive, cosy feel in a room. A floral fragrance will work better in the spring to evoke bright, sunny, carefree days and leaving those long harsh winter nights behind.

Adding that extra dimension makes a huge difference to an overall experience. The Sanctum Soho Hotel in London believes that “the introduction of a sophisticated yet fresh fragrance has enhanced the overall guest experience, making it a truly unforgettable experience for all guests. Furthermore, recent feedback has shown that our customers feel scent is a crucial part of their guest experience“.

“A cinnamon-based fragrance will work better in the winter, to create a festive, cosy feel in a room. A floral fragrance will work better in the spring to evoke bright, sunny, carefree days and leaving those long harsh winter nights behind”

For many businesses, especially for those leaders that are looking to take advantage of the downturn in order to own the upswing, scent has become a pivotal component to their strategy in the recession and moving forward. Environmental scent is an alternative way for a brand to differentiate their message in a unique and cost-effective way. When compared to the other sensory elements of a retail experience an environmental fragrance programme is a very cost-effective way to connect with customers.

As well as a brand fragrance, scent can be used in zones or areas. For example, Homes & Gardens Magazine used a fresh cut-grass fragrance at a recent promotional exhibition to break up their stand into areas and encourage people to view the outside area as part of the inside. 

This also works for department stores. The Conran Shop, London, has started to use a leather woods fragrance in the entrance to their store to create a warm and inviting nostalgic feel, and are using a coffee scent in the kitchen display area. This helps customers to imagine themselves in these scenarios and encourages them to relax and take their time browsing, whilst deepening their connection to the brand.

ScentAir has a talent for innovating new technologies to deliver fragrance into the environment, and is always introducing new developments as such. In the fragrance world, trends for popular notes/compositions are very common. Right now, green fig is a note that we see in many high-end personal fragrance brands, and also in the environmental fragrance blends of some of our recent key implementations. Very similar to fashion, the larger players in the fragrance industry innovate and plan using cycles.

Christopher Pratt is the MD of ScentAir, a leading UK provider of scent marketing solutions. The company has installed thousands of scent delivery systems around the world, and its systems blend into existing displays or fixtures, complementing decor while providing the greatest coverage. This article was originally published in Furniture News, issue 274.