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A moment is like a bookmark in our brain. A place, a time, a thought, a feeling, a sound all collide and are imprinted in our memory. As a brand, you want your audience to experience a whole pile of positive moments related to your product or services.


Passing a billboard while driving 70 mph is not a moment. Watching a TV commercial isn’t necessarily one either. Not every minute is a moment. According to The Physics of Brand, “Experiences that are emotional, social, and multisensory increase the likelihood of becoming a moment.” Using these brain-stimulating techniques, you can design a brand moment.

Emotional Moments

There’s nothing new about appealing to emotion in sales. But creating a moment isn’t about closing a deal. It’s about increasing positive brain activity toward your brand, knowing over time that will create brand advocacy, brand loyalty, and positive buying habits. These two brands created emotional moments around their quality ingredients.

Panera’s emotional moment

Panera Bread created a moment for Johnston City, Illinois, a small town that hadn’t been able to afford a summer fireworks display in a decade. To demonstrate the proper use for food preservatives like sodium benzoate, Panera paid for an elaborate firework show and, of course, catered a town-wide picnic. The residents will now associate the emotions of sentiment, nostalgia, and wonder with Panera Bread. The thousands who shared in the moment through social media will feel similar emotions and link them to the brand.

KIND’s emotional moment

KIND Snacks took a different approach to creating an emotional moment. On August 23, 2017, KIND artfully dumped 45,485 pounds of sugar in Time Square, confronting passers-by with the amount of added sugar children consume. The impactful installation should stir feelings of surprise, disgust, and resolution for change. KIND also presented their fruit bites, made with no added sugar, as a source for hope in the unhealthy world of kids’ treats. Though some of the emotions this moment triggered may be negative, we’re betting the outcome will be positive for the KIND brand.

Multisensory Moments

Ask any teacher, like myself, and they’ll tell you that multisensory engagement increases learning. That’s true whether you’re learning the alphabet by singing a song or “learning” which restaurant will be enjoyable on a Friday night. Typical multisensory advertising strategies include jingles and images of steaming cups of coffee. These brands took the senses a step further, creating multisensory moments to engage their audiences.

Chipotle’s multisensory moment

Chipotle designed a multisensory moment that brought the inner musician out of their patrons. The fast-casual chain collaborated with RZA – rapper, producer, filmmaker, and author. Through the SAVOR.WAVS website, users can create a musical composition based on their favorite Chipotle ingredients. My salad started with a soft maraca-like rhythm, chicken added a low horn melody, and vinaigrette topped it off with a whimsical thrill from the harp. The moment is capped with a buy-one/get-one offer. My personalized musical moment will run through my head the rest of the day, subtly suggesting a tasty Chipotle meal with each remembrance.

Uber’s multisensory moment

Imagine a group of strategists sitting around a conference table brainstorming what would make a cab ride a more pleasant sensory experience, when one bold young person stands up and shouts, “Ice cream!” I have no real reason to think that’s how Uber came up with its ice cream day moment, but that’s how I picture it. On August 11, 2017, residents of ten major cities had the chance to request an Uber ride and receive a limited-edition ice cream cone. That cone gets them a free ice cream from McDonald’s every Friday for the next seven weeks. There’s no obvious reason to mentally connect the cold sweetness of ice cream with a discount taxi service. But, through this multisensory moment, Uber is lighting up riders’ brains in a whole new way.

Social Moments

“Social is a reflex,” wrote brand experts Aaron Keller, Renee Marino, and Dan Wallace. “It is impossible to remove social thoughts from your brain. Social is a muscle we relax and flex and relax and flex, consciously and subconsciously, all day long.” Don’t confuse social with social media. True social moments involve face-to-face interaction with others and the flood of oxytocin that goes with it. These brands constructed social moments around their products that will lead to a lasting brand impression.

Coca-cola’s social moment

The Share a Coke campaign came out of Coca-Cola’s Sydney-based offices in 2011. Since then the summer promotion that replaces the Coke logo with first names, last names, nicknames, and song lyrics, has expanded to 80 countries. The campaign brings a deeper social element to the act of buying a soft drink. And it’s paid off. In Australia, Ogilvy estimated Coke’s share of the market increased by 4% and consumption by young adults increased by 7%. Possibly more impressive are the thousands of social moments that have spun off from the initial campaign.
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Chick-fil-A’s social moment

Chick-fil-A has made cows their biggest advocates. On Cow Appreciation Day any customer dressed like a cow receives a free meal. In 2016, more than 1.6 million people participated in the annual event. The social experience of this moment extends beyond the 20 minutes or so a customer spends in the restaurant. There’s the social activity of shopping for or making a cow costume, the photos friends and families take while dressed up, the corresponding T-shirt design contest, and more. The extensive media coverage of the event is just a bonus.
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Make your moment

Your audience will have moments with your brand whether you design them or not. They have a moment the first time they truly engage with your product or service. Their overall impression of your brand will be an amalgamation of thousands of moments, only a few of which were planned. Thus, it’s crucial that those few designed interactions really stick. Making moments that are emotional, multisensory, and social will increase the likelihood of a lasting impression.

I must’ve been hungry when I collected these examples of emotional, multisensory, and social brand moments. Have you seen examples that don’t involve food? Leave a note in the comments.

 

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