• Transform magazine
  • January 20, 2019

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Chocolate and audio branding

  • British Museum of Food (credit Ann Charlott Ommedal).jpg
  • Chocolate factory.jpg
  • cocoa beand.jpg

While there is a general awareness of the potential for brands to better engage with the public’s senses in order to optimise engagement, there is still a lack of understanding among organisations with regards to harnessing that potential, and measuring its impact.

While many brands already have sophisticated audio brands, which help to improve recall and contribute to the brand’s overall identity, a current study by global communications consultancy, Space Doctors, is looking at the ways in which non-musical audio can be used to change or alter a person’s experience.   

An exhibit at a temporary, London pop-up, Choco-Phonica uses sound to change the way that participants experience taste. Choco-Phonica invites the public to try chocolate in four separate sound booths. Each booth plays a different combination of sounds on repeat.

One of the booths plays sounds which are specifically designed to evoke nostalgia, and the idea is that this will improve the taste experience for the participant. The person taking part records how creamy or bitter each piece of chocolate tastes, apparently favouring some pieces over others when, in fact, the chocolate in all of the booths is identical.

The results of the study, conducted in collaboration with Professor Charles Spence and Qian (Janice) Wang from the University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology Department, are due to be revealed in the new year. The findings should help to inform companies who are looking to create more meaningful and memorable brand experiences.

Cato Hunt, director of innovation at Space Doctors, says, “We know that the senses have a powerful role to play in shaping brand perception, but it’s a new area of exploration. We’ve needed to develop our own hypotheses and methodologies in order to stay ahead of emerging client demand, by drawing on many inter-related fields – from semiotics, cognitive science, design theory, anthropology and experience design.”

Sound experts Nathanael Williams and Dom James helped to create the four themed soundscapes at Choco-Phonica, an exhibit at the British Museum of Food (BMoF) by food experimentalists, Bompas & Parr.