Thought Leadership

The secret to winning in the experience economy: brand sensuality

Publicis London’s immersive ‘Rare Minds’ event featuring artist and perfumer Paul Schütze showcased a simple truth: brand differentiation is created less by what’s said and more by how you engage the senses.

Dom Boyd, Publicis London

Chief Strategy Officer


The Publicis mantra is ‘find the rare’, a mantra that helps brands embrace new opportunities through fresh thinking. Our Rare Minds sessions set out to do exactly that by lifting the lid on things we think we know to reveal something we don’t. The topic du jour this time was brand sensuality. Or to put it differently, how brands that fulfil the senses, ‘the animal side of human nature’, are the ones that create the strongest competitive advantage.

Hosted by Australian artist, music composer and perfumer Paul Schütze, the evening itself was designed as an immersive trip, featuring art soundscapes, bespoke cocktails, and an interactive scent experiment. The range of unexpected experiences made Paul’s point more powerfully then any PowerPoint presentation ever could: when we engage the senses it’s far more memorable.

Paul went on to articulate why this is. Neuroscience shows our senses are a shortcut to our emotions, and our emotions are what encode brand memories. In fact, as he put it, “our bodies remember”. And it’s these memories which shape our behaviours. In fact, as Paul pointed out, we’re very eye-biased. Yet we’ve 21 other senses including responsiveness to sound, smell, pressure, temperature, orientation, balance, acceleration, colour and vibration. All of these have the power to encode brand memories.

This has big implications for brands in the digital economy. Firstly, our feelings are what determine our actions. So, we need to think not just about what brands say, but about what we want our brand to make people feel. It’s about creating moments, not just messages. Secondly, shift from thinking about creating functionally-driven experiences and ‘jobs to be done’, to thinking about brand environments with ‘feelings to be evoked’ using a range of sensory stimuli beyond just the visual. And thirdly, put more thought into how our brand transitions between feelings across different touchpoints and within a user journey, because it’s the moments of transition between different senses that drive emotional peaks. These moments are when we can guide people’s behaviours.

In a retail context where on and offline are radically shifting, these insights offered a fresh perspective on how brands in all kinds of category can gain competitive advantage, through applying emotionally-led brand thinking to every aspect the user journey.


Paul Schütze, artist, perfumer and multi-sensory experiential consultant

Dom Boyd, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis London

Guest Author

Dom Boyd, Publicis London

Chief Strategy Officer,


Dom is a recent APG Chair and Publicis CSO. He joined Publicis in 2017, where he oversees strategic planning for clients including Tourism Ireland, Cathay Pacific, P&O Ferries and Prior to joining Publicis he spent 10 years at adamandeveDDB developing iconic campaigns for the likes of John Lewis Partnership, Volkswagen, Aviva & Lloyds. He’s a champion of using Behavioral Science which has helped win over 5 IPA Effectiveness Awards for brands including Direct Line and Teacher Recruitment. He counts DJing and bringing up two kids as a continuous work in progress.

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Experience Event