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Selling Brands With The Senses

July 2007

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Tropical Living Thailand, Nick Davies

From the moment we wake up we are bombarded with the sights and sounds of the world’s brands, whether it’s the colorful cockerel on the cereal box or the catchy jingle on the radio while driving to the office; they are all trying their best to penetrate our consciousness as an essential part of our existence. One of the most famous carbonated drink brands on the planet even has blueprints for a gigantic orbiting solar powered billboard that may one day light up the night sky with its instantly recognizable red and white wavy line.

We all have our favorite brands and develop loyalties to them because of the comfort we find in their consistence with our chosen lifestyle. When we throw a pack on cigarettes on the table or hug our favorite beer, it’s more of a statement as we silently shout out who we are and what we stand for.

More often than not, our loyalty to a brand is not something we can’t immediately put our finger on and it has penetrated our subconscious in a way that makes us feel good enough to put our trust and faith in it. It might be something as simple as color; have you ever noticed for example, that some of the most popular brands out there have a lot of red in their logos, especially products that are trying to project an image of power or energy. Other brands which want to project a reassuring image of class and reliability often use darker colors, which appeals to our sense of stability.

Probably one of the most important assets a brand can have is the simplicity of a clear message; one that reminds us of exactly what we are getting but these days, a simple logo often isn’t enough and this is where people like Simon Faure-Field, CEO of Equal Strategy come in, helping brands take a fresh look at themselves and see what they can add to their image by appealing to more of the sense with ‘Brand atmospherics.’

Over the years, Simon has become a much sought after brand enhancement advisor for a number of the world’s leading brands in a wide range of industries, including Microsoft, DHL, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Standard Chartered and Mercedes-Benz; helping them further define their brands with consistency that appeal to their customers, specifically through telephone and customer environment touch points which enable companies to achieve powerful competitive advantages in the context of their long-term business strategy.

When customers call a company that is using Equal Strategy’s telephone touch point technology, they will be left with an impression of a professional company that places importance on ensuring that callers have a pleasant experience with the kind of music and promotional material they are subjected to. Gone are the days of tinny reproductions of Edelweiss when Simon comes along with his extensive network of script writers and studios, which provide Equal Strategy and clients with access to over 2 million copyrighted musical works. Well known regional presenters also play a part in giving companies a local slant on their branding. “A chain of hotels for example, may all operate under the same brand but each establishment is unique in the cultural environment of their geographical location, so these localized differences should be highlighted to enhance the guest experience,” said Simon.

Believe it or not, there is actually a group of professionals who call themselves the ‘On Hold Messaging Association,’ which Simon is a member of by invitation; located where else but the United States, where the general public have become quite used to being told all about the latest special offers currently available from the company they are calling and if done correctly, customers actually come to enjoy being put on hold. He is also an active member of the Contact Centre Associations in both Singapore and Malaysia, where Equal Strategy’s offices are based.

Simon also continuously contemplates ways to enhance the guest or customer experience from their very first contact with a brand, whether it is suitable music piped through the bus’ sound system on the way to a hotel or a company’s telephone greeting recorded in the native dialect. This approach to enhancing the customer experience in something readily recognized by Western companies but Asian organization don’t always see the importance of it and need slightly more persuasion.

As well as introducing more listenable music to the masses, Simon also helps companies, especially resorts; develop their own signature fragrance, which are diffused in air.

“In the US, I find that companies are eager to distinguish themselves from each other and clearly see the benefits of establishing their own signature fragrance but there still seems to be a certain resistance to this kind of change over here in Asia,” said Simon.

Of course it’s been common practice, especially in Asia, to burn scented or essential oils in diffusers and you can easily create your own blends for a unique fragrance but as Simon pointed our, traditional methods of diffusing fragrances pose both a fire risks and the possibility of adverse reactions from people who are allergic to certain oils. “The ingredients used to develop the signature fragrances are all completely artificial and therefore non allergic.”

Simon is not only a man of ideas but he has also had to apply his practical skills to develop the technology to implement his brand enhancing concepts. Fragrances are automatically delivered into the air with computer controlled cylindrical units that hold cartridges soaked in fragrance, which is released at a set rate depending on the size of the room and the strength of the fragrance required.

For the music used in telephone touch points, on-line servers are used to store the thousands of pieces of music used for the phone lines and can be observed in real time and changes made to the minute as to which music will play when and for how long.

So when you find you want to stay longer and spend more in a supermarket or a hotel, it may well be because of Equal Strategy’s very scientific branding solutions.

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