Ever wonder why fragrance ads are so rare?
We all know the formula: a beautiful woman or a handsome man, brilliant visuals, and no real plot to speak.
At first glance, the format may be difficult to understand, but there is a reason for the perfume industry's emphasis on oversized visuals and extra-sensory stimulation in its ads.
Fragrances cannot be smelled through a billboard or television screen, so brands must create a sensation through sound and sight.
However, can you remember a specific fragrance ad? Maybe one or two, but the rest freeze to one.
They don't work because they don't appeal to the meaning they need most.
Compare the experience of television advertising to going to a perfumery, seeing a beautifully designed bottle, touching it, spraying it yourself - the whole experience.
This is where events have an advantage over other forms of marketing and branding.
Events are unique because they enhance (or can enhance) the five human senses.
Our memories are scattered throughout the sensory centers of the brain. That is the beauty of our memory system.
Imagine a good day at the beach. The smell of the sunscreen, the friends he was with, the beer he drank; any of these could spark memories of the whole thing.
And that's what we remember: being there, experiencing a moment.
Digital or television commercials cannot replicate that feeling.
Events can, and if you want a memorable event, you have five great opportunities.
Sight is the dominant human sense and works in parallel with memory. Do you remember how bright fireworks were when you were a kid? Or the height of the first roller coaster you saw?
The eyes and the brain process visuals together, working back and forth to find meaning.
The role of sight in consumer decisions is well established: clear, visually striking product images are known to have a powerful effect on people's willingness to try a new product.
For event planners, the right images can add meaning to a room décor, space design, or the feel of a network area.
Images can thrill, engage and entertain. They can make a space feel familiar or professional, fun or serious, warm or cold.
Think about the social media feed from your last event. If you were full of photos of people networking, that's great, but you also want the event to captivate people.
Visually striking installations, vibrant displays, and engaging visual stimuli can make all the difference, both in how the event is remembered and how it is shared and documented.
Color also plays a factor.
It works as a powerful information channel for the human cognitive system and has been found to play an important role in memory enhancement.
Color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%, which has surprising implications for the venue.
The entrance, the main room, the stages for the keynote speakers - how is the use of color related to your brand identity and is it attractive to the memory faculties of your attendees?
There has long been a debate about colors that make people more receptive to messages.
Colors are, of course, built into personal preferences, but it is still possible to use colorful images to improve memory.
Red, for example , is the most effective in enhancing our attention to detail.
Touch is the first sense that humans develop.
And it is made up of some elements like pressure, temperature, light touch, vibration, and pain.
It's also closely tied to our memories - specific parts of the brain deal with haptic (or tactile) memory, and touch has also been shown to stimulate the hippocampus (a central brain area for memory).
So for event organizers, the different facets of the human touch offer numerous routes to creating a memorable experience.
This can be more conventional, such as the textures and literal feel of event furniture or eating and drinking implements.
Textures affect the way we remember an occasion - different types of paper, for example , are infused with tradition and social significance, triggering associated memories.
Or it can be a specialized facility that appeals to the touch.
As an anecdote, auditory memory is perhaps the easiest part to relate to sensory memory.
We can all remember the power of movement of a movie or TV soundtrack, and how it makes a visual scene more epic or sad.
Chef Heston Blumenthal is known for mixing sound with his gourmet dishes. His plate 'The sound of the sea', for example, is accompanied by an iPod, which plays sounds of the ocean in the ears of the diners.
Sound has an incredible ability to enhance experiences.
The noises that diners hear can unlock emotional memory, deepening their experience of the dish.
But the sound also literally affects the taste: with the presence of loud music, the sweet and salty flavors become less intense.
Similarly, sound can unlock deeper levels of experience at an event, making it memorable.
It turns out that we can remember not only the sounds, but also the personal experience of the sound at a given moment.
That's why an installation like " Porsche Sound " by Porsche is so clever.
The installation combined upbeat music, moving images, and projection mapping to mimic the experience of a high-speed drive.
Create a powerful sensory memory cocktail that makes the event truly memorable.
While now a starting point for the film industry, Smell-o-vision was a serious attempt to incorporate scent into the movie experience.
When the popularity of television exploded in the 1950s, movie studios were quick to draw audiences to the theater.
That's where Smell-o-Vision came in : the innovation would release odors from the vents under the seats.
It didn't work, but it's indicative of how long we've tried to define the role of smell in creating memorable experiences.
Thanks to our anatomy, smell is a particularly powerful memory agent.
Incoming odors reach the olfactory bulb first, a biological equipment directly linked to the hippocampus (which, as we mentioned earlier, is the seat of memory) .
This explains why smell is so successful in triggering memories.
Smell can help the memory event to literally stop.
For scented gifts, or maybe use diffusers to spray different scents at your event at intermittent intervals to evoke an association with the day.
You may not have heard of Lizzie Ostrom, also known as Odette Toilette, but she is a consultant who specializes in using scents to drive interesting events and conversations.
As part of the Museums at Night series, for example , she helped create smells true to the art period that attendees were viewing.
The audience could breathe in the scent of violets while looking at works of art from the Belle Epoque, for example.
Virgin Atlantic has taken things a step further, releasing its own signature scent . While your event doesn't need to go that far, you can be a lot more creative with scent than you might think.
Adults have between 2,000 and 8,000 taste buds.
This set of nerve endings helps us experience all of life's many tasty delights.
Most events will have a food and beverage component.
It's one of the biggest expenses, if not the biggest, for your events.
But more than just a livelihood, it is a key part of creating a memorable event.
As John Allen points out in his book The Omnivorous Mind : "Evolution has seen to it that food in general can be a privileged target of memory in the brain . "
Tastes and experiences with food are often some of our most powerful memories.
So the food you serve at an event should be more than fuel. See it as a vehicle to improve memory.
Why not, for example, serve regional or local food as a nod to local taste preference and local culture?
Why does all this matter?
Ultimately, you want your event to be memorable.
And in the midst of a packed calendar of events, that can be difficult to do.
But by exploring the many sensory avenues of the human brain, you can build a truly memorable experience.
Our senses play a crucial role in the way we retain information.
They act as a buffer for stimuli. And leaving a lasting impression means stepping past these guardians.