Let’s face it, perception is important. Most people care about what their friends, peers or family think and feel about them.  Business professionals, movie stars and political figures all spend a ridiculous amount of money on quality control to preserve their images.

Business Image Imperative

The ones who spend the most time and money stressing over their perceived image are probably franchises, enterprises and brands.  Having the wrong or smudged brand image can be devastating to the bottom line.  The primary objective for these organizations is to portray their product/service in the right light to gain brand visibility, awareness and (hopefully) loyal advocacy.  It all starts with knowing your target audience so that you can have proper representation in your messaging.

Companies can communicate with consumers through fantasy or emotional appeal, often using the power of perception and sensation.  Perception deals with how consumers perceive the things they see, such as the personality of a brand, service or product.  Powerful words, designs and visuals can create a brand personality that will help differentiate their company or brand from others.

Marketers use the impact of sensations (vision, scent, sound, touch, taste) to give people a unique experience.  Visuals are an effective method in advertising, but tying in content is a must.  Whether a tag line, slogan or mission statement, words + content help in giving depth to sensation, sometimes bringing clarity or alluding to the unexplainable.  Once the elements are presented, the viewer’s responsibility is to perceive the sensations and interpret.  Essentially, perception is the process of exposure, attention and interpretation, and as a content marketer it is their responsibility to lead viewers to the root of their message.  If done correctly, consumers will be able to come to their own conclusion, yet still perceive the brand, product or service in the manner the organization was trying to portray.

Visuals and Sound

In this digital age of media, marketers are limited to visuals and sounds to convey their messages.

Vision –”Seeing is believing” holds completely true in the case of marketing a product to a customer. Most customers want to actually see the product before they decide to buy it. Sensory marketing uses this strategy to lure customers towards a product. Different colors can actually have an effect on your senses and make a product appealing to you. For example, red is known to be a highly stimulating color that can stimulate your appetite and increase your blood pressure. Using red in a restaurant gives greater results in encouraging customers to eat more, while the color blue in a spa setting or its product packaging creates a relaxing feeling.

Sound– Hearing is a very convincing strategy to create brand image or personality. A message in combination with sound is a very powerful way to make a customer remember a product. (How many advertising jingles can you sing right now?) Background music can create a mood for the customer to buy a particular product. Oftentimes clothing stores for younger audiences play loud rock music, but in Nordstrom’s, you’ll find a live piano player gently serenading the shoppers.

Getting Through to Consumers

Consumers are in a state of sensory overload, requiring marketers to break through the clutter noise by creating a brand or company that truly understands their target audience’s needs, fantasies, or emotional triggers.  To do this, companies are required to do just a “little” research.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” — Peter Drucker.

An example of quality control and perception can be seen with Chipotle.  Knowing their customers expect “fresh and natural” food, they recently acknowledged that they were not serving all natural food and that, in fact, 12 of their 24 food items contained GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms).  They became the first United States restaurant to explicitly label foods containing GMO on their menu.

To repair brand image and perception, Chipotle launched a new marketing campaign that hits an emotional chord, and generates awareness.


Chipotle is a perfect example of producing sensations (visuals/sound) that expose GMO in the food industry, bringing attention to change, and then leading viewers to interpret Chipotle as striving to make a difference in serving fresh, non-GMO food.  Even though they still serve GMO, Chipotle has chosen an aggressive approach to address the issue and at least signify that they are trying to change.

Driving Perception

We, as marketers, can all learn a thing or two from Chipotle’s play on perception.  Start by truly trying to understand the people you want to influence.  Once you have defined the emotional trigger or need you want to address, purpose your content in a message that can be easily accessed, draws attention and can be readily interpreted so that you can lead your target audience to a predetermined conclusion that builds a positive and favorable perception of your organization, product or service.

Join the Conversation:

  • What sensations do you prefer to incorporate into your content for leading customers through the buyer’s journey?
  • Does your target audience come to the same conclusion as you intended when viewing your content marketing media?
  • Did Chipotle’s commercial hit an emotional chord for you? Will you eat at Chipotle knowing that they serve some GMO food instead of “all natural?”