Build deep brand connections with feeling, through touch

The word connect, or connection, is a bit of a buzz word in the era of social media, despite technology designed to help us stay in touch and up-to-date sometimes making us feel more isolated than ever. So, what does it really mean to connect? And why is it so powerful?

Connection is all about engaging the senses. The senses — smell, sight, taste, sound, and touch – act as our interface with the world and help us make sense of it all, so we naturally feel more connected when we’re engaging them.

Of all the senses, touch yields some of the greatest power when it comes to communication and connection. It’s something every human being craves and its reciprocal nature means you can’t touch without being touched back — it transcends language and ability and is a two-way dialogue before the words even begin!

According to renowned neuroscientist Dr David Eagleman, the science of haptics — how the things we touch shape the way we feel — has profound implications for brands. Paper company Sappi’s insightful book A Communicator’s Guide to the Neuroscience of Touch, written by Dr Eagleman, exposes the “haptic trail” in memory that lingers beyond the moment of touch, like the glitter stream a child with a sparkler leaves in the dark.

In the same vein, paper can resonate with readers in ways that screens simply can’t. Countless sources tell us paper’s ability to connect through touch offers far more cogitative benefits than digital alternatives, such as greater retention and readability. According to Two Sides North America, 88 percent of people self-reported that they remember information better if they read it on print.

A Communicator’s Guide to the Neuroscience of Touch highlights some interesting findings from research firm Olson Zaltman, commissioned by media group Condé Nast to investigate how people interact with magazines, and how their responses to TV and magazine ads are different.

The study revealed that, “…Because paper is ‘lighter in its assertion of control,’ it draws readers in. [Readers] engage with the content—not just ads but all content—more fully.”

According to Dr Eagleman, New York Times discovered something similar when it explored the current revival in printed catalogues.

“Retailers shifting to online catalogues found sales plummeting, as people missed the haptic qualities of the catalogues they were used to. Now mailings of paper catalogues have rebounded—but the form is changing dramatically as companies find exciting new ways to make catalogues relevant.”

When determining how you want to be perceived by your customers or audience, it’s all in the detail, so have some fun with it and make it yours.

A recent study performed by the Eagleman Lab, and shared by Sappi, found even paper quality makes a difference. In this case, participants were reportedly more likely to recall information printed on heavy, high-quality paper than on low-quality paper.

While according to Canon Europe, Aktion Deutschland, a charity for homeless people in Germany, used the effect of touch by sending a DM piece that was printed on rough paper. By doing this, the recipients associated the haptics of the paper with rough living conditions, resulting in an increase in donations of over 20 per cent.

First impressions are powerful, and touch goes a long way to sending a clear message that resonates from the get-go.

Harness the power of touch as a tool to express your brand and you’ll have a far greater chance of developing deeper, lasting connections with your customers or audience.


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