The Five Senses Of Branding And How To Use Them

Have you ever walked into a Peter Alexander (you know, the boujee pj store) and been met with the powerful scent of a caramel-smelling candle and the bright lights shining on their luxurious pastel collections? 

How about a trip to a spa like Endota where dim lights are met with soothing melodies and the calming smell of lavender and bergamot? 

These experiences were created on purpose and it’s why regardless of the location you visit, you’re greeted with those same smells, sounds and visuals. It’s called sensory branding and it is how brands, both large and small, use the five senses; sight, touch, taste, smell and sound, to create long-lasting connections between them and their customers.

We know we sound like a broken record, but concepts like sensory branding truly prove that your brand is so much more than your logo, colours and fonts. We need to think beyond the impact of our visual identity and consider how through sensory touchpoints, we can remind customers of our business. 

Every smell, taste, sound and touch has the ability to craft a memory about our brand, to the point that every time our audience experiences something similar, our business is at the forefront of their minds.

In fact, the more you engage all five senses (aka a wider span of the human brain), the easier it is to strengthen these connections. Let’s take a look at the five senses individually and how tweaks to our branding touchpoints can ignite new feelings, emotions and memories for our customers.


It’s not uncommon that the idea of engaging visuals with branding would be the easiest, but in 2020 and beyond, capturing the attention of customers (and maintaining it) is becoming increasingly harder. 

When navigating our brand’s visual identity, we need to tell a story. Engaging our knowledge of colour and font psychology is a brilliant place to start. 

We’re able to engage the sense of sight in our customers by evoking emotions through the colours we select for our brand and its touchpoints. For instance, think about the colours you use within your salon, are they that colour ‘just because’ or do they speak to the feelings they evoke?

Walking into a day spa and seeing a bold red feature wall in the waiting room immediately withdraws feelings of relaxation and comfort. This is because the colour chosen by the brand doesn’t align with the feelings they’re hoping to evoke. Alternatively, that same space but with earthy tones like greens, blues and whites, symbolise the sanctuary a day spa is and support the customer’s journey to relaxation and calmness. 

Combining this engagement of the sight sense with a secondary one like smell, elevates the message your brand is sending to the customer. Pairing the serene space, the customer sees with a supporting smell heightens the customer’s senses and elicits emotions towards your brand within them.


Engaging the senses through touch is something all beauty therapists were born to do, so let’s take what we know about the power of touch and shift this to our retail space, waiting room and even new client onboarding and retention experiences. 

Just like brands engage sight and smell strategies for their experience, they also prioritise touch. Think about buying a new iPhone and the process that follows, not only is the phone itself curved and elegant, but the packaging totally matches its luxe statement. The smooth texture of the box, the weight of it and thickness of the material that holds it all together take this experience from ‘just a box’ to ‘you bought an iPhone’. 

Attributes like texture and weight can significantly contribute to the value we assume a product has. When something feels heavier, we generally think it’s more expensive. The same as when something has smooth, curved edges. Our brain identifies that as modern and sleek. 

In a beauty business environment, you can modify your existing brand touchpoints to support the power of touch. For example, are your treatment menus and welcome letters printed on generic paper or are they a thick, matte and even coloured stock paper? The increase in thickness and style of these essential brand touchpoints can be physically felt by the customer and automatically make them think of something more luxurious and expensive. 

The same can be said for coffee cups or glasses in your waiting room or at the chair to bring out feelings of comfort, luxury or even sustainability. In your retail space for items like candles and bottles that feel heavier, aka more luxurious and value for money.


As a beauty business, you might be wondering how taste can contribute to your brand’s experience (psst! This one could actually be the easiest!). Many beauty businesses already offer clients a welcome beverage or snack during their service but more often than not, it’s not overly considered to be part of their branding. This is where igniting the sense of taste comes in. 

Just like that signature blend makes us go back to our favourite coffee shop or the way our favourite bar makes our favourite spicy marg, brands are utilising taste to create memorable and signature experiences. In your salon, spa or clinic, this involves marrying up your beverages and snacks to match the look, smell and sound of your brand. 

For day spas and wellness retreats, this could mean selecting signature, brand-aligned tea brews that are consistently on offer and a protein ball as a snack. For our bustling and high energy salons, this could include a signature cocktail or a branded cookie or chocolate with a coffee. Just like the power of smell and sound ignite memories that we look forward to revisiting, the same can be said for taste.


The role of smell in sensory branding is without a doubt the one that can make or break a long-lasting impression. As we touched on previously, some of the country’s largest brands utilise smell as a key part of crafting brand memorability and you can too!

The sense of smell can be engaged by your brand in a multitude of ways. Whether it be a consistent essential oil blend that diffuses throughout your space or a signature candle lit in your retail space to reed diffusers carefully placed throughout your space to carry the scent from room to room. 

A note about harnessing the sense of smell in your branding is to choose something that isn’t overwhelming and takes away from the other senses. There’s nothing worse than a smell so strong, it leaves your customers sneezing or with a headache! Remember, just as much as our senses can elevate our brand, they can also drive our customers away. 

Your scent should be considered and intentional as the key to a long-lasting impression is consistency (aka don’t change your scent each week). We’re handing out extra gold stars for brands that utilise a scent that they retail such as an oil blend or candle. That way, those customers that hold the strongest scent connection can carry that experience into their own home!


How many Aussie rock songs do you now associate with a car after the surge of television commercials in the 2000’s? A particular song or jingle can become synonymous with a brand if we hear it enough. 

Whilst salons, spas and clinics likely aren’t rushing out to create their very own jingle, the music played within these spaces can absolutely evoke feelings about your brand. 

The most obvious use of sound in our industry would be day spa brands using particular sounds and melodies of nature and meditation throughout their treatment rooms and waiting room spaces. Heightening our sense of sound in this scenario (especially when paired with visual elements and scents), strengthens the message to our brain that we’re in a space of relaxation, serenity and nurturing. 

Now, the use of sound isn’t limited to relaxation spaces. The same goes for beauty brands promoting bold and energetic vibes! Think about attending a hair salon that’s visual identity has given you loud pinks and powerful blacks. They’ve engaged your excitement through sight, they may have engaged your taste through a zesty signature cocktail but all of a sudden, their music is an acoustic Ed Sheeran melody. Hmm, things haven’t quite added up and you’re feeling a little less pumped up! The salon coordinator quickly realises they’re on the wrong playlist and turns up Beyonce once again. Phew, all senses have made sense (see what we did there), of the brand experience. 

The role of sound can support what we expect to experience when we step through a brand’s doors and remind us of the other things we love about visiting.

Want to know more about how you can inject more subconscious touches into your brand?

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