I have synesthesia, a wonderful neurological quirk that, in my case, allows me to taste colors. I physically experience the taste of colors, salivating over hues and tones. It’s not in my head – it’s on my tongue. Crayon yellow tastes like black pepper. PMS Rubine Red is almost sickly sweet. Most greens are a complex mix of salty and sweet. And blue violet is rich and creamy.
I am one of the lucky 3.7 percent of the population born with synesthesia, a crossover or mixing of senses where a stimulus in one sense modality causes an automatic and involuntary sense experience in one or more other modalities.
Specific colors always taste the same and have for my entire life. I used to think that everyone in the world experienced sea-foam green, aubergine, and yellow ochre the same way I do. And even now, I think it’s a little weird that you don’t taste the color of the sky.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could let everyone see the sound, or feel the scent, or taste the color we have in mind? That is our job as brand expressionists: to make brands a synesthetic experience for everyone – an experience where the messages and touchpoints are so integrated and so vivid that a sound invokes a taste, a touch invokes a color, a smell invokes a picture. Where the smell of fresh-cut lumber looks like orange aprons. The taste of a HoneyBaked Ham feels like a hug from a friend. The sound of Tom Bodett’s voice feels like change jingling in your pocket. And the word Chick-fil-A is always red, friendly, and dipped in honey mustard sauce.
When all the senses work together, memorable brands are forged.
We create these highly memorable synesthetic experiences when we mix things up, combine them in a new way, and are mindful of the synergies of the full range of brand sensory experiences. Multisensory stimulation creates stronger memory impressions, because when you can activate more than one sense, you activate more than one area in the brain.
So, we need to be asking new questions. What is the scent of your tone of voice? What is the texture of your name? What does your brand’s logo sound like? What texture is your TV commercial? What temperature is your website? When all the senses work together, memorable brands are forged.
Here’s a simple online test to see if you have synesthesia.