DoubleTree Hotels, Midwest Airlines Smell Of Success


For decades, DoubleTree Hotels and Midwest Airlines have been baking cookies for their customers, and today the low-cost means of creating differentiation – particularly in down economic times – seems like branding genius.

At branchannel, we’ve always appreciated the more unconventional and avant-garde approaches to what is already a creative and inspiring industry. Sonic branding, for example, is an exciting and emerging field in the branding industry’s future. But the success at DoubleTree Hotels and Midwest Airlines hits on an equally compelling frontier in branding: smell.[more]

In 1986, Midwest Airlines stumbled onto the cookie idea when an employee was experimenting with baking snack foods that could be prepared in an airplane’s oven. When the appealing smell lured the flight crew out of the cabin, the brand knew it was on to something. The smell remains a signature experience with the brand.

Midwest’s director of advertising and branding, James Reichart, had this to say in a New York Times article:

“What I remember most of all… was people talking about the aroma. In a closed space like an aircraft cabin, to have something as unexpected as the smell of baking cookies was a real delight for everybody on board.”

Says Erich Joachimsthaler, of brand consulting firm Vivaldi Partners, in the same article:

“When consumers don’t know how to judge the benefits of the differentiation of a product – I don’t know the difference between Midwest and JetBlue and United – then a meaningless attribute like cookies can create a meaningful differentiation.”

Of course, it’s not just cookies: It’s how they smell. Right now you, dear reader, are probably conjuring memories of a cookie moment in your own life. If the word “smell” can be that powerful, then just imagine how important an actual smell can be to your brand.