Brand Management

A Direct Touch – Which Makes Sense!

A Direct Touch – Which Makes Sense!
by Martin Lindstrom

Just the other day a real letter arrived in the mail. It’s been a long time since I received one of those. You know, the kind with handwriting, stamps, and a closed envelope. It felt kind of strange and mysterious, with just a smidgen of excitement, and conjured up a mixture of feelings associated with the passing of time. We’ve slipped into the digital age, with barely a thought. Sometimes to our detriment, because real letters still work. I’d go so far as to say, real letters have never been in better shape.

It’s a fact that the majority of marketers concentrate on seeking newer cost-effective methods to communicate with their mass market via email. They use all sorts of creative tricks to bypass filters, firewalls, and the screen of skepticism that consumers put up to protect themselves from the electronic barrage. So what was once a financially prudent means of communication, now faces ever increasing costs.

It makes one wonder why the good old-fashioned letter is being ignored when, after all, it still works. This, among many other questions, forms the basis for the world’s largest study ever conducted on our fives senses and brands – project BRAND sense. We wanted to know the role our five senses play in communicating and building brands. And then we investigated just how we should leverage this information.

The world is first and foremost a visual place. The average consumer will be exposed to some two million television commercials by the time they reach 65 years of age.
Two million commercials translates into viewing eight hours of advertising each day for six years! There’s no doubt about it, we are visually over-stimulated, and as the marketplace throws more at us, so the power of the visual is diminishing.

The BRAND sense study reveals that the bulk of all communication today – 83% –appeals to sight, leaving a paltry 17% to the other senses. This is hard to understand in light of the fact that the moment we lose one of our senses, our experience of the world suffers enormously. Yet, despite this, the advertising and marketing communities continue to focus almost exclusively on visuals.

Which brings me back to my letter. Apart from the more obvious visuals, a letter appeals to our sense of touch and smell.

Recently L’Oreal ran a major advertising campaign in the UK. Their ad took up two magazine pages. The first was crushed, wrinkled and rough. The second was perfectly smooth and silky. This comparison almost invited the consumer to run their palm over the surface of both pages. The texture of the paper reinforcing the L’Oreal message: L’Oreal gives you smooth skin, free of wrinkles. The visuals in this ad were almost unnecessary, the texture was the message.

The benefits of texture and touch can be leveraged in magazines, letters and brochures. The scope is enormous. Do not underestimate it. The BRAND sense study shows that most consumers around the world believe that Coke tastes better in a glass bottle than in a can. The Coke is the same. The perception is radically different. And yet Coca-Cola has continued to remove the glass bottle from the market, leaving Pepsi to pick up the slack and emerge a clear winner in establishing a tactile relationship with the consumer. So much so, that 65% of all consumers now feel a stronger connection to the Pepsi bottle in their hand than they would to a Coke can.

Which brings me back to the letter, again! Take the time to send out a letter to your clients. Make something of the fact that you’ve chosen an old-but-good way to communicate. Its shows extra care. Be mindful of the fact that the consumer will be holding your message in his or her hand. It can leave a lasting impression – unlike emails and spam in an email inbox. My business card is embossed. I can’t help but notice that 9 out of 10 people comment on it – favorably. It creates a point of difference, because not many business cards go the extra distance.

My message is simple. Leverage our senses. And consider sending out physical mail now and then. It will give you the opportunity to create a different connection with your market. Carefully select the paper quality you use. Ensure there’s a strong tactile feel that matches the format, shape and embossing. Extend it to the wrapping and be conscious of the scent. And yes, it will cost more money. But it also works, and is likely to be remembered for years.

The effects of incorporating the five senses into your marketing platform will astound you. The BRAND sense study shows that memory of your brand message can increase by an astounding 250% just by optimizing the appeal to all consumer senses. So, make your message connect with all our senses – it simply makes sense!

About Lindstrom and the BRAND sense Symposiums

Explore the fascinating world of our senses. Visit for more on the 51 BRAND sense Symposiums running across 31 countries or email [email protected].

Martin Lindstrom is recognized by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of the world’s primary branding gurus. He is an advisor to several Fortune 100 brands including Disney, Mars, Pepsi, LEGO, Mercedes-Benz, Reuters, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Yellow Pages and Microsoft. His latest bestselling book BRAND sense is published on Simon & Schuster New York.

Visit for more.

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit