Haptic feedback gives brand stories an extra dimension.

Haptics Give Brand Stories an Extra Dimension

Every marketing campaign can benefit from engaging storytelling – but with every brand trying to craft just that, it can be hard to identify that ever-crucial differentiating factor. Most stories rely on visual and auditory media (for pretty intuitive reasons), but there’s a way to make them even more immersive. Haptic marketing — that is any marketing tool related to the sensation of touch — is underrated, underused, and wide open for experience-oriented, detail-obsessed brands to leverage.


From analog to digital

The tech savvy among us will probably recognize the phrase “haptic feedback” in the context of touchscreens; in lieu of physical buttons that give a click-clack, a tap or keystroke usually yields a light rumble in response. It’s not a new innovation by any means, but it’s one with a lot of potential. Apple intends to push haptic technology even further – and as we’ve mentioned before, they have a firm grasp on the holism that’s required to create an impactful brand experience. Their proprietary Taptic Engine, which also put a primacy on pressure-sensitive gestures, was promoted for the iPhone 6s, and it does look like a technology they’ll continue to refine in forthcoming models.


It’s good timing too: a handful of consumer brands have taken small steps toward haptic advertising, playing around with more specific and nuanced responses. Spirits producer Stolichnaya and automotive marque Lexus each integrated this technology with videos for a more engaging experience. It hasn’t ramped up in popularity as quickly as augmented or virtual reality, but it’s a fair guess that it’ll play a greater role in the near future as experiential innovation matches technological availability.



It’s an applied science

For brands that don’t have extensive digital resources, leveraging haptics is deceptively simple. Case in point, the tactile experience has a demonstrable effect on how print advertisements are perceived. In a 2013 study published in Advances in Advertising Research, researchers from Bergische University Wuppertal in Germany found that paper texture affected participants’ perceived value of an advertised running shoe. Researchers found that when it was presented on rough paper, participants responded that they perceived the shoe as stronger and more “suitable for running in heavy terrain” than when the advertisement was printed on smooth paper.

It’s also notable that the researchers tested paper weight; and contrary to their hypothesis, they found it had no significant effect on perceived value. But as with any experiment, there are a number of factors to consider, like the specific product advertised, the variety of paper textures used, and even the context in which it’s presented. In any case, it’s just the sort of thing that lends itself to further investigation. And your brand could be the one that tests these out. After all, what’s an A/B test but an agile experiment?


Your brand is multidimensional, so your story should be multidimensional too. Leveraging haptics is just one way to do that. Looking for more ideas to develop your brand story? Check out our blog for the latest news, trends and strategies in marketing and branding.

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