A couple of years ago we did a significant amount of work in a category of marketing known in the industry as dark marketing for a client in the tobacco industry.

Dark marketing is marketing communication which does not make use of explicit forms of communication, but instead leverages unique sounds, smells and other more subtle sensory cues to create a brand signature.

One of the most powerful and exciting avenues that we explored prodigiously was scent branding [the use of a specific smell to differentiate a brand or create a brand experience].

You obviously find a lot of hospitality brands that spend a lot of time and effort to create nice smelling fragrances to spray on linen and in their bathrooms, but what I find far more intriguing are brands that develop scents that smell just like the experience of the brand itself.

A nice example of this is a bookstore in Portland, Oregon, Powell's,  that has developed a fragrance that mimics the smell of their store - presumably it smells like musty old books.

'Like the crimson rhododendrons in Rebecca, the heady fragrance of old paper creates an atmosphere ripe with mood and possibility. Invoking a labyrinth of books; secret libraries; ancient scrolls; and cognac swilled by philosopher-kings, Powell’s by Powell’s delivers the wearer to a place of wonder, discovery, and magic heretofore only known in literature.'

Apparently people from the bookstore said they surveyed customers about what they missed while the store was temporarily closed by the pandemic. The answer was: "It’s not the books. It’s the smell."

Does your brand have a smell? Is it a unique smell? Is this not something you should pay more attention to?

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